Owner and Lead Pro
Professional Cash game trainer Bart Hanson has been producing strategy content for over fifteen years. He first started on Live at the Bike! back in 2005, then moved on to host "Cash Plays" on Poker Road, then "Deuce Plays" on Deuces Cracked and then to CrushLivePoker in 2012.
In his career as a professional poker player, Bart Hanson has:
-6 WSOP Final Tables
-Over 15 years of experience at the table
-Over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings
-Multiple appearances on ESPN and Poker Night in America
-4th place finish in 2019 WSOP Monster Stack
Against early position limpers you can play for big pots with a flopped 2 pair out of the blind on disconnected boards @CrushLivePoker
Against early position limpers you can play for big pots with a flopped 2 pair out of the blind on disconnected boards
One of the most commonly misplayed hands in No Limit Holdem is flopping two pair out of the blinds. A lot of players get lost in these situations and will commonly put themselves in way ahead/way behind spots through their action or get scared when draws complete and do not properly maximize their value. In general, I am not a huge fan of check raising two pair out of the blind unless the top card is a high card like a king or an ace that will most likely continue to be top pair throughout the hand. You do not want to check raise a hand like T2 out of the blinds on a 2♣ T♥ 6♦ board as it gives a player that might bet a hand like T9 a very easy way out. Rather if you lead, often times a ten will call you on multiple streets. And there is nothing like winning a large pot when the action has been limped.
But what about when we lead out with two pair and get raised? I think people get overly cautious with a hand like bottom two and try to follow the adage of not wanting to go broke in a limped pot. Now of course not all boards are alike. For example if we lead out with 34 on a 3♣ 4♣ 5♥ board we lose to many different hands all of which are in a limpers range. Two combinations of straights, two two-pair hands and of course all of the sets. Also if someone has a flush draw with a deuce or a six in it, an ace or a seven or a pair plus straight draw or flush draw we really are not that far ahead. However there are certain situations where we can deduce that we are almost always ahead with two-pair.
Let us take a look at a hand that I played last week at the Commerce Casino’ $5-$10 game. The pot got limped around five ways and I looked down at 7♣ 3♦ from the big blind and checked. The board came out Q♣ 7♦ 3♣ giving me bottom two pair. Going with my contention that I did not want to blow someone off of a weak queen I decided to lead out at the pot for $40 into $50 expecting all queens and club draws to call. The under the gun player, who was a gentleman in his late thirties who started the hand with about $1100, raised to $170 and it got folded around back to me. This is where positional hand reading and combinatorics becomes really important. First of all I was not concerned about him having a set of sevens or a set of threes because of the blockers that I had in my own hand. And I've also found through my experience that if someone limps in with a big pocket pair intending to limp reraise and they do not get the opportunity to they vary rarely will raise top set on the flop. However, if they limp in with a big pocket pair that ends up being an overpair to the board they certainly will drive flops, especially draw heavy ones. So a hand like AA or KK definitely made sense. Also he easily could be overplaying something like AQ, which he is protecting so that he will not get drawn out on.
But even though I was not super familiar with this player it is not too much of a jump to assume that he was not limping in with Q7s or Q3s from under the gun especially when I block a lot of those hands. The other type of holding he could have would be the nut flush draw or a pair and a flush draw. Some people certainly will play those hands fast. But I specifically looked back at my cards to find that I had the 7♣ in my hand so pair plus flush draw was impossible. I took in all of this information and determined that against this particular player in this position with the action and texture of the hand I had the near nuts. The only question now was how to extract the most value.
To be honest, of all the hands that I mentioned I did not think that he would fold any of them. So I thought a reraise was definitely in order so that an action-killing card would not come on the turn. The stacks were a little awkward so I decided to actually put the hammer down and made it $600 looking like I was committing myself. The UTG did not take to long and shoved all-in and I ended up scooping a huge pot vs AA.
The lesson that you should learn here is that when you flop two pair out of the blinds and get heat from an earlier position limper and the board is disconnected, making two pair impossible for an upfront limper than you almost always have the best hand and often times the early position player will have "top top" or a limped in big pocket pair.
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