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Pocket Jacks

By: Ov3rsight @ 11:42 (EST) / 57 / Comment ( 0 )
I was watching a few episodes of The Big Game V the other day, and Dusty Schmidt and Jesse May were commentating. At one point, they were talking on how pocket Jacks were very high on the least favorite hands list of a lot of players. After my evening session at the ring games today, it's positively at the top of my list. I can't recall a hand I've lost so many big pots with than the pocket Jacks. And not to suckouts, all of them by getting coolered by the deck. Three times I ran into pocket Queens. Twice I ran into pocket Kings, all in a 2 hour timespan. Sometimes the flop comes all below the Jack, sometimes the Ace hits and I don't think he has one. I'm right, but still has me beat.

It made me ponder - what does one have to do to win with pocket Jacks? For me, it's simple. Winning with the Jacks will be achieved by losing less money with it. As they say, a penny not lost is a penny won. And that means learning to throw them away. But how can you throw away Jacks when they're the overpair to the board at these limits? People will call you down with middle pair all the way to the river. You bet preflop, and on the flop, and you get called both times. Then the turn hits and then what? Check it and hope they check back, but what if they bet? Or bet, have them call, and play the same guessing game on the river?

And as said - they'll call you down with middle pair, or the gutshot draw. Checking down the overpair seems like losing so much value. But how much value is there when they keep flipping over the higher pocket pair? Is betting every street still +EV then? When I check-raise the flop holding the AJ for top two pair, I get called in two spots: QJ for top pair, KQ for a gutshot. When I shove the turn all-in, they both still make the call. How can you fold pocket Jacks when you keep running into situations like that...

The Jacks are one of the top 10 hands, but when does a top 10 hand become a hand you just fold preflop without even thinking about it? Probably never. At least not as long as I'm playing the 2NL games. I suppose I will just have to accept losing big pots with them over and over when the flop comes as good as it gets. There's too much value lost if I don't bet them. Or so I keep telling myself.
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