Playing Big Pocket Pairs Pre Flop in Tournaments

One of the most exciting feelings in poker is when you are dealt a big pocket pair. You can almost see the money being added to your stack the second you peek at your hole cards. This is the first pitfall that poker players fall into, counting their money before they win it. Instead of prematurely counting your winnings you should instead be formulating a winning plan for the rest of the hand. I have seen plenty of players online go crazy with a big pocket pair, all but eliminating the chance of them making the most money possible.

You have the cards to win, now it is your chance to capitalize by making the most money possible. How you go about playing your big pocket pairs in poker will be crucial to your bottom line. If you repeatedly misplay your big hands you will be throwing money away.

When to Reraise

You might be asking yourself, “When DON’T I reraise with a big pocket pair pre flop?” The question should be the other way around, however. If you know when to reraise it means that you probably know why you are reraising. This is the basis for all successful poker strategy, knowing why you are doing something before you do it.

You should, generally speaking, always be reraising your big pocket pairs pre flop. You would have to be facing an extremely tight opponent in order to find a fold pre flop. Look to make a re raise with all of your big pocket pairs to around 4x the original raise size. Your goal should be to squeeze as much value out of your hand pre flop as possible. The other player(s) in the hand will often give their hand up on the flop, so it is important that you make as much as possible before they flee the scene.

Note that pocket jacks are the type of hand that could warrant a flat call as opposed to a re raise pre flop. There will be many more situations where jacks are behind pre flop than there will be times where queens, kings, aces, or ace king are behind.


One of the toughest moves in all of poker is finding a fold pre flop with a big pocket pair. You know that your hand is very strong and stands to take down the pot a large portion of the time, but there is always the chance that you are beat (unless you are holding AA). You will need to have a very good read on your opponent in order to make a fold pre flop with a big pocket pair. There is a good chance that you will go several thousand hands before you find yourself in a hand where folding a big pocket pair becomes a reslistic option. You might have hands where your QQ is 4-bet and you are tempted to fold, but in the end you will probably determine that you just need to go all in because your hand will be the best in the long run. What you won’t have often, however, is a situation where it becomes fairly obvious that you should be folding a big pocket pair pre flop.

There should be two conditions in place when folding a big pocket pair pre flop: a tight player and big stack sizes. Players will play tighter when they have a bigger stack, so a player who 4-bets or 5-bets with a 250 big blind stack is much more likely to have pocket aces than someone who 4-bets with an 80 big blind stack. The tight playing style speaks for itself, a tighter player will naturally play a stronger range of hands. Be sure that you have a strong read on your opponent before you decide to fold what could be the dominant hand pre flop.