Since you will usually flop either a set or an underpair to the board, playing Pocket Twos is usually pretty easy.
However, there are still some things you should consider when playing the Deuces. In this article, I’ll cover:
- How to Play Pocket Twos Preflop
- 3 Tips for Playing Deuces as the Preflop Raiser (Single Raised Pots)
- 3 Tips for Playing Deuces in as the Preflop Caller (Single Raised Pots)
How to Play Pocket Twos in Common Preflop Situations
Let’s run through every common preflop spot one by one. Here are the table positions for your reference:
If you’re seated anywhere between the Hijack and the Small Blind, go ahead and open-raise with Pocket Twos. If you’re playing from the Lojack or early position, simply let this one go.
Limping should be avoided in most games, no matter how tempting it might be to set mine with it. Put simply, you will win less money over time by limping.
That said, if you’re in an extremely soft live game in which your opponents are rarely raising/3-betting preflop, you can consider a very exploitative open-limp with Twos in spots you would otherwise fold it.
Against a Raise
When it comes to playing against a raise, your position is a crucial factor.
From the Big Blind: You should always just call. The pot odds you are given due to your default investment in the pot make it very appealing to call, despite having to play out of position with a high stack-to-pot ratio.
From the Small Blind: Cold-calling from the Small Blind in cash games is generally a losing play (especially in a high-rake environment). Since Pocket Twos are too weak to 3-bet, they should be folded whenever you are in the Small Blind and face a raise.
From the Button: The Button is a special position because you are guaranteed to be the last player to act postflop, which increases your ability to realize equity. With this in mind, you are highly encouraged to have a calling range against the other positions. Despite this, Pocket Twos are too weak to cold-call or 3-bet, so they should be folded in all but the softest of games.
From the Rest: When you are in any other position, Pocket Twos should always be folded when facing a raise.
Against a 3-Bet
When faced with a 3-bet after opening, you should almost always call with Pocket Twos. It’s simply a great hand to have since you have a 12% chance of hitting a set on the flop, and you will have a good chance of stacking your opponent if they have an overpair or top pair.
(I say almost always because, if we look at simulations made by computers, Pocket Twos are folded some percentage of the time from the Cutoff and always from Middle Position.)
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3 Tips for Pocket Deuces as the Preflop Raiser (Single Raised Pots, Heads-Up)
I will be talking about playing from the Button against the Big Blind, specifically, since that is the most frequent spot you will find yourself in.
Tip #1: If you have an underpair to the flop, check back*
*The exception to this is covered in tip #3.
This is the easiest way to play this hand. You have showdown value, so checking behind will never be too bad of an option regardless of the board texture. There are some exceptions, of course, because on some boards it’s better to c-bet with this hand, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
Related article: When To Turn Your Low Pocket Pairs Into Bluffs
Tip #2: Always fast-play when you hit a set
Regardless of how dry or wet the board is, your flopped bottom set is the set with the highest expected value (EV) because it unblocks the most bluff-catchers in your opponent’s range. Start building the pot right away to put yourself in the best position to win your opponent’s stack.
Tip #3: If the board is paired, always fire a c-bet
Paired boards are great for the player who is in position. You can c-bet at a very high frequency and force a lot of two overcard hands to fold their equity. Pocket Twos have the best efficiency of all the pocket pairs because almost every hand has two overcards against it.
Definitely never check back on a paired board with Twos.
3 Tips for Pocket Twos as the Preflop Caller (Single Raised Pots, Heads-Up)
Again, the focus of these tips will be on the common Button vs Big Blind matchups.
Tip #1: When you flop an underpair out of position, pay close attention to the board texture when deciding whether or not to call a c-bet
An underpair is a very weak hand out of position, so you will need some extra help to profitably continue against a continuation bet (c-bet).
You will need a combination of the following factors:
- Less connected flop
- Smaller c-bet size
- Backdoor flush draw
For example, you should call against a 33% pot-sized c-bet with 2♥ 2♣ on a K♥ 8♥ 5♠ board. But you should fold if your opponent c-bets for 75% pot. If you didn’t have a heart and your opponent bet 50% pot, then you should fold as well, but still call with a heart.
Tip #2: Check-raise sometimes on medium/low paired flops check-raise
I’m talking about flops such as 773, 884, and 553. On these boards, o your opponent has a lot of non-made hands, and your Pocket Deuces are the most vulnerable made hand that you can have.
You must protect your hand’s equity, which means that it’s best to make a small-ish raise designed to make the opponent fold a lot of those two overcard types of hands (such as JT). At the same time, such a raise will extract value from your opponent’s non-made hands that actually are strong enough to call (such as two overcards + a backdoor flush draw or a strong Ace-high hand).
Tip #3: You should only call one bet
After calling the c-bet on the flop, either in position or out of position, you should fold if faced with any more aggression on the turn. Your hand simply is not strong enough to call any more bets. The exceptions are few and far between and mainly revolve around turning something like an open-ended straight draw.
You may even have the raw equity to call once more on the turn, but you will simply not realize that equity enough of the time because you will only be able to call a final bet on the river if you hit your set.
You should now have a pretty clear picture of how to play Pocket Twos in common preflop and postflop scenarios. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below!
Ready to learn how to play another hand? Check out How to Play King-Queen Suited in Cash Games (Preflop and Postflop).
Til’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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