How To Play Pocket 2s in Cash Games

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Bird’s eye view of players around a red poker table
BetMGM Nov 02, 2023, 1:58 AM

Pocket pairs vary greatly in strength. While aces are obviously the best and set you up very nicely to win the pot, deuces are naturally much weaker.

Despite it being a pair, you’re going to struggle to make much from pocket 2s. However, all is not lost. Whether you play land-based or online poker, you simply need to follow the right strategy to maximize your chances with this hand. Keep reading to learn more.

Playing Pocket 2s Preflop

The pocket 2s poker hand has an average win rate of 13%. That’s not terrible, but it’s not exactly a slam dunk, either. 

So, to make the most of it, you must act according to the behavior of your opponents and your own table position. Here are some tips to follow when playing deuces in different situations.

Unopened Pots

Whether you raise or fold when playing an unopened pot and holding pocket 2s depends entirely on your position. You should open-raise if you’re sitting anywhere between the hijack position and the small blind. 

If you’re anywhere else on the table, it’s best simply to fold. As a general rule, you should always look to avoid entering the pot with a call. This is especially true in an online poker tournament, where chips are more valuable than cash games.

However, this changes somewhat if your table is extremely soft. If there are very few opponents raising or 3-betting preflop, limping becomes more of a viable strategy. 

Facing a Raise

When you’re facing a raise with pocket 2s, your next action depends entirely on your position at the table. Here’s how you should act in the following positions.

Big Blind

If you’re holding deuces in the big blind and an opponent has raised, you should simply call. You’ve already invested in the pot and have favorable odds in this situation, so there’s no need to fold. Just calling allows you to keep the size of the pot under control.

Small Blind

The small blind position is trickier, as there’s less value in calling a raise. Since pocket 2s are too weak for 3-betting, you should simply fold in this position when facing a raise.

The Button

If playing from the button, you’re guaranteed to be the last player to act postflop. This increases your chance of realizing your equity, so having a good calling range is important. 

As the gap concept explains, calling requires a much stronger hand than opening the betting. However, deuces simply aren’t good enough to call or 3-bet here, so you should usually fold unless you’re playing at a very soft table, where you have more of a chance to play your hand successfully. 

Other Positions 

When holding pocket 2s and facing a raise, you should fold from any other position at the table. 

Although this guide is aimed at cash game players, the above advice is still applicable for online poker tournaments.

Facing a 3-Bet

If an opponent 3-bets after you’ve opened the betting, you should almost always call. At this point, you’ve already committed chips. While pocket 2s aren’t the strongest, you do have a small chance of hitting three of a kind on the flop. Playing this way gives you a favorable win rate, even if it appears risky.

Set Mining

Set mining is the name for a specific tactic, often built into both online poker tournament strategy and cash games alike. The idea is to call preflop in the hopes of hitting the set and taking down the pot. 

While pocket 2s are weak, they become very strong if you can flop a set. Making three of a kind is really the only way to win with any small pocket pair. Whether you’re in a physical card room or playing online casino games, there’s only a 12% chance of this happening. 

If you don’t hit the set, you only have two outs left to improve your hand. This represents an 8% chance of improvement by the river, which is not exactly high. Still, if you do happen to make three of a kind, you’ll beat the majority of your opponents’ ranges. 

For set mining to be profitable, either in cash games or as a poker tournament strategy, you must win enough to make up for all the times when you miss. It’s a mistake to use this in all situations, as you need to be mindful of your position and opponents’ ranges. 

Here are some online poker tips to help you increase your chances when set mining.

Deep Stacks

Based on the probability of hitting a set, expect it to miss around nine out of 10 times. This means that when it does hit, you need to win at least 10 times the value of your open raise. Otherwise, it simply won’t be a profitable play.

Of course, there will always be scenarios where you hit a set but fail to encourage your opponents to commit enough chips to the pot. Other times, you may hit a set but still lose to a stronger hand. Ultimately, set mining is a high-variance strategy. As such, you’ll need the buffer of a deep stack in case things go awry.

If you gamble too much with such plays, entering pots without the right odds, you’re going to lose money. In that case, casino table games might be more your thing.

Playing in Position

Being in position will increase your success rate in all situations, and it’s no different when set mining. You want to be able to control the pot and grow it as much as possible when you hit the set. 

The easiest way to build a pot is when playing in position. In addition, you still benefit from bluffing, even if you don’t hit the set. When your opponent is out of position, they’re less likely to fight back, making them easier to push out. Combine this with floating in poker games for better results. 

Strong Opponent Range

To increase your win rate while set mining, you want your opponent to have a weaker hand than you on the flop. Still, they need to have a strong enough hand that they are willing to pay you off.

When your opponent has a strong range, they’re more likely to pay you off if you hit your set. Judge the strength of an opponent’s range by looking at whether they open-raise from an early position.

Two’s Company: Winning with Deuces

While pocket 2s aren’t as versatile as other pairs, you’ll improve your chances with the right strategy. 

Register at BetMGM today and put theory into practice at a wide range of hold’em cash game tables. In addition, you can enjoy plenty of the latest progressive jackpot slots and live dealer casino games.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.