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Middle Pair Is not Top Pair

When it comes to Texas Hold’em, yet another thing that is important to keep stored in your arsenal of poker knowledge is the following bit of wisdom: Middle Pair is not Top Pair. Now, it may seem a fairly obvious statement, but it is important enough to bear consideration, especially when your money or your tournament life is on the line and you have either one. In Hold’em, when the flop hits and you have top pair the time is ripe to strike; doubly so if you have a great kicker. For example, if you started the hand with Ace Jack and the flop comes Jack Five Eight, you are ready to take the pot down right then. You have a bit of extra power because if an Ace comes you will pair it, but if a King or Queen hits and your opponent is holding one of those, you could be sunk; so strike! Odds are pretty good even if called your luck will hold. These odds shrink if your top pair is, say, Fives, and then the next card comes Ten; you might be in trouble, which is why you want to take the pot down in a hurry.

However, if you are holding King Jack, for example, and the flop comes Ace Jack Two, you are not sitting as pretty as you may think. A pair of Jacks is great, even better with such a great kicker as a King, but trying to hammer the pot down right away may get you in hot water if one of your opponents is holding a bullet (Ace) in his hands.

So what do you do with Middle Pair? The first thing is to repeat this phrase right away: “Middle Pair is not Top Pair.” The second thing is to approach it as a middle pair hand; call, check, or bet based on your chip lead (or lack thereof) and knowledge of how the table is playing, but be very wary of trying to push everyone out of the pot.

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