One of the main rules of ABC poker (i.e., playing poker “by the book”) when playing online poker (or any poker, for that matter) is only proceeding when you’re dealt especially strong cards. But what happens when the cards you’re dealt are neither “strong” nor “weak”? Take pocket sixes, for example. Pocket sixes can be either a blessing or a challenge, depending on various other factors of the game.
So, what are the most crucial factors to consider when making a decision regarding pocket sixes during a poker cash game? Read on for everything you need to know about how to play this hand to your advantage (and how to know when it’s time to fold.)
What Are Pocket Sixes?
“Pocket sixes” refers to a starting hand in poker where a player is dealt two sixes as their hole cards (the cards dealt face-down and only visible to the player themselves in many poker variants, including Texas hold’em.) “Pocket” simply means that the two cards are of the same rank and are held together as a pair.
Pocket sixes as hole cards are considered a middle pair and hold moderate value in poker cash games and poker tournaments. While not as strong as higher pocket pairs, such as aces or kings, these cards can still be profitable if played strategically.
Pocket Sixes, Pre-Flop
You’ve been dealt pocket sixes as your hole cards. To play the flop or not to play the flop – that is the question! Here are a few factors to keep in mind when deciding:
- Position: Position is vital when playing any hand in poker, and pocket sixes are no exception. Playing from late position provides an advantage as it allows you to gather information about your opponents’ actions before making your decision.
- Stack size: Consider your stack size in relation to the blinds and the other players at the table. If your stack is deep, you can afford to play pocket sixes more liberally. However, with a short stack, it may be wiser to wait for stronger hands or more favorable situations.
- Opponent profiles: Assess the playing styles and tendencies of your opponents. If you’re up against tight players who only play premium hands, be cautious. But if facing loose and aggressive opponents, you might find more opportunities to extract value from pocket sixes.
- Table dynamics: Pay attention to the overall atmosphere at the table. Are players frequently raising or limping? Adjust your strategy accordingly to exploit the tendencies of your opponents.
Playing the Flop With Pocket Sixes
You’ve decided to go for it with your pocket sixes – now what?
- Evaluating the board: The texture of the flop will greatly influence how you proceed with pocket sixes. Assess the potential draws, the presence of overcards, and any possible coordinated combinations that could connect with the community cards.
- Continuation betting: If the flop is favorable and you believe you have the best hand, consider making a continuation bet to maintain control of the hand. This can help you extract value and potentially force weaker hands to fold.
- Facing aggression: If you face a bet or raise from your opponents, carefully consider their range of hands. Against aggressive players, your mid-pair might not be strong enough to continue in the hand, especially if the board is coordinated. Use your judgment and consider folding if necessary.
- Pot control: Be careful in situations where the flop is unfavorable or dangerous. Protect your stack by checking or calling rather than betting aggressively. This approach helps mitigate losses and allows you to re-evaluate the hand on later streets.
Pocket Sixes, Post-Flop
There’s more to consider post-flop when playing pocket sixes.
- Turn and river: As the hand progresses to the turn and river, re-evaluate the strength of your hand based on the community cards and your opponents’ actions. Be mindful of any potential draws that may have been completed, as they can affect the value of your pocket sixes.
- Value betting: If the board runs out favorably and you believe you have the best hand, consider value betting to extract chips from your opponents. Be mindful of your bet sizing to maximize potential profit while not scaring away any players who may have weaker hands.
- Pot odds and implied odds: When facing bets from opponents, analyze the pot odds and the implied odds of continuing in the hand. If the potential payout outweighs the risk, it may be profitable to continue, even if your hand is not currently the strongest.
Clear Signs It’s Time To Fold
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t feel positive about those pocket sixes you’re holding. After all, there’s a good chance they could win you the pot! That said, there are a few instances when it’s best to fold to avoid any costly losses.
- Strong pre-flop raises: If there are significant raises or re-raises before it’s your turn to act, it suggests your opponents have strong hands and is almost always better to fold.
- Aggressive post-flop action: If the flop brings unfavorable cards or a coordinated board with potential flush or straight draws, and your opponents show aggression with big bets or raises, it’s a sign that they’ve connected with the community cards and it’s probably time to fold.
- Going up against multiple opponents: If you face multiple opponents who are showing strength through aggressive betting or raising, it makes it a lot less likely that your pocket sixes are the best hand. The more players involved, the higher the chances that someone has something stronger in their grip or is drawing to a better hand. Fold to avoid making a costly mistake during your cash game.
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