How to Play Pocket Fours in Cash Games

min read
a pocket pair of fours underneath black and blue poker chips on a wooden surface
BetMGM Sep 12, 2023, 1:26 PM

“Sail Boats,” “Darth Vader,” “The Dark Side of the Fours” — whatever name you give them, pocket fours are a powerful but tricky starting hand to be dealt in a game of online poker. The strongest of the low poker pairs, it’s a made hand that’s almost always worth playing for value, provided you know what to look out for. Read on to find out how to maximize the opportunity that a pair of fours presents.

Where Do Pocket Fours Fit In?

Being dealt pocket fours is always an opportunity. That’s because the odds of being dealt any two hole cards of the same kind are only 17-1 (5.0 percent.) Of course, not all pocket pairs are created equal. In fact, they’re divided into three categories. At the top, you have your premium pairs – pocket aces, kings, queens, and jacks – which play well in any position before the flop. Next come the medium pairs, being pocket tens, nines, eights, sevens, sixes, and fives. These are pairs you hope will connect with the board so you can mine a set. Finally, there are the so-called small pocket pairs: fours, threes, and twos. They carry a lot of value and can certainly help you pocket cash at the table, but you have to exercise caution. Position, stack size, and your opponents are important factors to consider.

Basic Strategy With Pocket Fours

When you’re learning how to play pocket pairs, it’s best to have a general strategy for each one. With pocket fours, it’s important to play for value as often as you can. A common way to do this is to see the flop cheap by calling in the hope of flopping a set (three of a kind.) This is one of the strongest poker hands and will put you in the lead in the majority of cases. But what if you don’t connect with the flop? That depends on the specific situation, but generally, you’ll want to check through to see another card. If you’re facing a bet, though, the best idea is probably to fold.

Raising With Pocket Fours

Open raising with pocket fours can be a good play, depending on your position and the number of players at the table. In a full-ring game of nine players, it’s rarely a good idea. In fact, you should fold them straight out from UTG, UTG+1, and UTG+2. However, at a six-max table (the format for most online poker games,) low poker pairs become much more valuable. That’s because they’re made hands, unlike technically stronger hands like ace-king that rely on their drawing potential.

As a result, you can open-raise any pocket pair from any position at a six-max table. The difference comes in when you’re playing with a bunch of loose players who are liable to squeeze an early raise. Pocket fours are also not great after the flop, as most of the time, you’ll be left holding a weak under pair. As a result – especially if you’re still learning how to play poker well – it’s best to fold unless you’re in the cutoff, button, or small blind. Pocket fours are also strong enough to defend against three-bets from these positions.

Calling with Pocket Fours

If you’re on the button, flat-calling an open is a comfortable decision. Calling from the big blind at the right price also makes sense, as you have the final pre-flop action. As the small blind, you’ll want to pay attention to the big blind before deciding to call your pair. If they’re the type of player to squeeze you with a re-raise, folding may be the better option. Be prepared to call up to 7BB to maximize your profit when your set comes in. In early position, low poker pairs simply don’t have enough equity to justify calling a raise when it comes to you, so don’t be ashamed to fold out early.

Stack Size

With pocket fours, your chances of flopping a set with pocket fours are around 7.5:1 (12 percent.) In other words, you’ll miss the flop eight to nine times out of 10. (Another way of looking at it is that you can count on flopping a set one hand in 120.) As a result, when you do connect, the payout needs to be substantial. Stack size is the key here. Say you’re holding pocket fours, and it folds to you after a pre-flop raise. How can you judge whether it’s worth calling or not? Take a look at the pre-flop raiser’s stack and work out how much you could win from them if you flop your set. The deeper your opponent’s stack, the more valuable they are as a target. If it’s less than 70BB, the implied odds are not worth the investment. In other words, you won’t win enough when you hit a set to compensate for the times you miss.

When stacks are very low (20BB or lower,) small pocket pairs come back into their own as shoves. By going all in with a pair of fours, you can fold out hands that have equity on you and realize your own equity.

Play Poker Online at BetMGM

Put your poker skills to the test at BetMGM! Register to play poker online against real live opponents in cash games and poker tournaments with buy-ins and stakes to suit every budget. For your entertainment between sessions, try online casino games such as live dealer variations of blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and craps. Get your game on at BetMGM!

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
About the Author


Read More

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.