Playing Pocket Jacks

Many poker players say that pocket jacks is one of the most difficult hands in all of poker. While it can’t be classified as one of the absolute best hands in poker, it is not a hand that should be an extreme challenge to play. Even if it isn’t easy to play, it is still a premium hand. There aren’t many poker players who would turn down the opportunity to be dealt pocket jacks. You will have a dominant hand in the vast majority of pre flop situations, and the odds are that you will have the best of it when it comes to the showdown as well. Playing pocket jacks is a two step process. Most hands are going to be closer to a four part process (pre flop, flop, turn, and river), but pocket jacks are unique in that they are going to be a strong hand pre flop, and then float or swim once the flop is dealt. While you are going to need to play pocket jacks on each post flop street, how you play them will largely be determined by the flop. Technically you will need to apply a four part strategy to each individual time you are dealt pocket jacks, but for the most part you will be able to find success by dividing it up into two separate chunks of one hand.

Pre Flop Play

Pre flop play with pocket jacks is probably one of the more challenging parts of the hand to play with pocket jacks. The most difficult situations will come up when you are 3 bet. Since pocket jacks is not one of the absolute best hands you could be holding it will be rare to get them all in pre flop. There aren’t too many players who will be shoving hands like pocket tens enough times to make playing pocket jacks in an all in situation that profitable, unless they are just burning off their poker bonuses. It will entirely depend on the dynamics of the game when you are determining the value of your pocket jacks. In a standard game pocket jacks are a borderline 3 betting hand. You will want to occasionally 3 bet pocket jacks, but not every single time. If your opponents are on the looser side you will want to want to 3 bet pocket jacks more often than if they are tight. 4 betting pocket jacks would require very loose opponents. If you 4 bet it should mean that you are willing to go all in. If you aren’t willing to go all in you will be better off simply calling the 3 bet. Set pocket jacks as a default 3 betting hand, and adjust according to your opponents.

Post Flop Play

Post flop play is often times going to be settled by the time the flop is play. If you face extreme aggression pre and/or post flop you will be stuck when an over card flops. An over card will inevitably flop a large percentage of the time, and there is nothing you can do about it. There will definitely be times where an over card flops and your hand is still good, but some players seem to disregard this possibility. Your hand’s strength is always relative to your opponent’s hand. If you are facing a ton of aggression on a flop on A K Q it is a pretty safe bet that you are beat. If the flop is Q 7 5, however, you should really consider the possibility that your pocket jacks are good. Think about what types of Q hands would be played the way your opponent played their hand. If you can’t come up with any if is probably for good reason. A little luck and some analyzation of a hand will go a long way towards success with pocket jacks.