As the saying goes, there are 3 ways to play pocket jacks. And they’re all wrong. They look so powerful. Paint. Pair. But they are very beatable. Your best bet to win with J-J will be when a third Jack comes on the board. If you see an Ace, King or Queen, you may already be hopelessly behind. The good news is that you know that you have Jacks and may be beaten. Your opponent does not.
When you see that you have pocket Jacks, you’ve got to make a quick decision. Do I play these cards like they’re actually a higher pair, or do I not risk many chips and lay low until they become something better?
First option. Bet these cards like they are Aces or Kings. If you bet like that in early position, you stand a good chance to take the pot immediately. Opponents who’d just like to see a cheap flop aren’t likely to call a huge raise out of early position unless they hold a premium hand as well.
If you are re-raised, you will assume that your foe has Aces, Kings or Queens. That may not be the case. It’s entirely possible that the re-raiser has a big Ace or even a middle pair. You may want to re-raise at this point. This may be getting quite expensive, but you might find out if the player who is staying with you is onto that bigger pair. If another raise comes, you’ll know you are beaten. If they then call, you may be ahead at this point.
Let’s say an overcard does come on the flop. Another big choice. If you were trying to represent an even better pair than the one you have, you’ll have to make it look like the flop didn’t hurt, in fact may have hit you right on the pocket pair. At least this is what you’d like them to think. You are surely risking more chips if you bet a pair that aren’t better than the board, but if your opponent didn’t hit, he’ll probably fold to your bet.
If you are in late position and no one raised, you’ll surely want to raise with J-J. And if there was a small raise, you’ll probably want to call. But a big raise ahead of you is going to leave you with a big decision. Most players play A-K as strong as big pairs. And, if they’ve put you to a decision with A-K, remember that any Ace or King beats you.
So, given all this indecision, you may find comfort in just slow playing and lurking with your Jacks. You may go into the hand with the mindset that you’ve just got a middle pair and if something good happens on the flop, no one will put you onto a set, or some other great catch.
If this is your approach, just call or make a small raise and wait for the flop. You’ll get a better idea of how to proceed after seeing the way the hand is going to develop.
Naturally, it will matter who you are playing with too. If you have a run and gun style of player, your Jacks will be vulnerable to that 6-7 off suit that results in a straight on the river after three or four seemingly idiotic calls. Tread lightly with a player like this.
But the lose player also has a tendency to not know when he’s beaten. If you have hit a good hand and are still pulling a couple of players with you every time you bet, welcome them into your pot with open arms. See how much you can get them to contribute.
One occurrence that will be particularly annoying is illustrated here.
You have J-J and raise to four times the big blind from early position. You get a call out of seat six. The flop comes 4-7-9 rainbow. You have top pair and bet the size of the pot. Seat six calls again. Now you are suspicious. After the turn, which is another small blank, you check. As does your opponent. A deuce on the river, and the board looks like it couldn’t possibly have hit your opponent. You bet about half the size of the pot. Your opponent calls and turns over pocket Queens.
To find this information that which trick works best for gambling you need to have a quite experience and knowledge related to the affiliated game that you are willing to bet on. Playing with no prior knowledge can lead to serious losses. Consider the above when your opponent plays Ace-King, stays with you the whole way to the river and catches the King to beat you in the stretch.
It is up to you to know something about your opponents. If you just got moved to their table, or they happened to drop in on you, you’ll have to pick up what you can, but any knowledge will be helpful. If it’s possible to bet people off of draws at your table, you should be pushing hands like J-J. If there are a few people who cannot be bet off of a hand,you’ll have to figure out how to get by those players.
J-J is not a great hand, but a very good hand. There isn’t a poker player in the land who hasn’t lost his shirt with J-J. And that will help control the way you play them better than anything. Each time you play J-J it will likely teach you something about J-J. But as your information mounts, don’t expect to feel any more comfortable playing them.