The Power of a Small Pocket Pair

Mighty Mouse was only tiny, but he could defeat some of the bigger superheroes in cartoon world. Big is not always best. The same rings true for the small pocket pairs in a game of No Limit Hold’em (NLHE). 

It is true that, the vast majority of the time, the big pairs will win most of the battles. But when the small pocket pairs bite, they can cause far more havoc than the big pairs can.

If you are involved in a three-bet pot in a WSOP event, holding pocket treys, then you are not going to lose too much money if you do not flop the third trey. So, should your opponent be holding the mighty pocket aces, then they are going to be going home without much profit. 

But imagine that you do hit your third trey on a low unconnected board. Now who’s the Daddy? It’s safe to say the player holding the pocket aces is going to go broke and fast.

But how often are you going to hit that third trey? The odds on it happening are 8 to 1, but when you factor in the likelihood that your opponent with pocket aces also has an 8% chance of hitting a third ace, your chances decrease to 9 to 1. 

The act of playing your small pocket pairs with the intention of hitting a three-of-a-kind hand is known as ‘set mining’ in online poker strategy forums.

If you are holding a pair and you flop the third card, then that hand is known as a set. The fact that it is so well disguised, and that your opponent is probably about to lose all their chips, lends the analogy of ‘mining’ quite perfectly.