how to play on paired boards

How To Play on Paired Boards

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These are some of the most awkward spots to play, we have a good hand we raise pre-flop and then the board is paired, how should we play now?
Cautiously in case we are just playing against trips in our opponent’s hand… or should we protect our equity and continue to bet, let’s take a look at some strategy…

How often will flops be paired?

Well, depending on the whole cards you have the board can be paired around 17% of the time, it’s more likely to happen if you have a hand like a pocket pair as then there are slightly more combinations of paired boards though.

So with this pairing happening 1/6 times, we are going to need to work on this part of our game to know how to play when this occurs.

How do the majority of players play these flops?
Players seem to either play these boards very aggressively or very passively.

Aggressive Style:

Players who even flop a piece of the board will tend to get very aggressive and defend with their weak two pairs on the flop, let’s say the board looks like this:

paired board

Our opponent has a hand like K4s many players will often play this aggressively and raise the flop when there is little reason to do this because they are either crushing the equity in this pot and have very little to defend against or they are beaten and shouldn’t want the pot to get blown up in size.

Aggressive players will also just pick this board texture to attack, good players will realise spots where we have way fewer sevens in our range and just go for blood when they have the nut advantage on a board. So we will need to be wary of good players like this that will really look to apply pressure.

Defensive style of play:

Let’s say we have KQs on this same board of K 7 7, some players will lose value in the way of playing overly defensive and look to pot control from the word go on this type of board in case their opponent has luckily just flopped three sevens.

How often does anyone flop trips or better?

The answer is not too often! It’s hard to flop something good in Poker, players will only have three of a kind or better 7.5% of the time, so around 1/13 times.
Therefore we don’t need to actually factor in our opponents having three of a kind into our minds that much.

How should we play on these boards with our strong hands?

Let’s stick with our same example of K 7 7, and this time let’s assume we have AKs as our holding. How should we play this after the flop?

Well, it’s a good idea to build the pot, there are a tonne of hands that can give us action and if we bet on the small side we can get calls from all worse pairs and just hands like Ace high.

What about our weaker hands?

Let’s say we have pairs like 88-QQ on this board, well what should we do now?
Betting here is a decent plan too, we could check back against weaker opponents, but betting accomplishes a few things:

  • We get value when we have the best hand and they continue in the pot.
  • We deny our opponents’ equity with hands like Ace high or worse Pairs.
  • We don’t look weak by checking, this can sometimes mean that our opponent will just go rogue on us and think, “They are scared on this board, I can bluff them…” we want to avoid playing hands face up and only betting with our strong hands, mixing in some marginal holdings makes us harder to read.

How should we play our bluffs on this board type?

Fire, Fire, Fire… these are amazing boards to apply maximum pressure, so we can look to check-raise when we are out of position or just keep betting when we are in position.

Look to mix in some large sizings to get max value when betting for value and use this same sizing to apply the most pressure with your bluffs, even look to overbet from time to time!

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