October 17, 2011

Preying on the Pocket Rockets

Pocket rockets: the best starting hand in poker. For savvy poker props, pocket rockets mean more than that though: they represent an opportunity to take down a massive pot. In poker there are always players who make it quite obvious for their opponents when they pick up pocket rockets. When the guy who hasn't taken part in the game for the past 20-30 hands paying his blinds diligently, places a preflop raise from early position, you can almost bet your life that he picked up pocket rockets. Of course, he may also have pocket Ks, Qs or Js but for what we're trying to illustrate here, those hands don't make any kind of a difference: they should all be considered pocket rockets.

Now that you know your opponent is endowed with pocket rockets, you know exactly what you have to do: you should either attempt to get out of the hand as cheaply as possible, or you should attempt to crack your opponent's rockets and take his entire stack in the process.

There are simply no other options to consider, and if you happen to do so regardless, be aware that you're treading on treacherous ground.

Now then, odds-wise, no other starting hand comes close to beating pocket rockets. That doesn't mean however that the odds on all these other hands are zero. A,Qo for instance, is an 8% favorite. A,K suited is a 12% favorite while 7,8 suited is a 23% favorite.

If you think the pot odds justify a move here, you're wrong. Your pot odds are poor, Even if no fewer than 5 players make the initial call, they won't stick around all the way to showdown, so – as said above – your pot odds are bad. The odds that justify your move are the implied odds. Before you proceed with the call though, you need to make sure that your opponent has plenty of chips and that he's willing to put them all into the middle on his pocket rockets. You have to have lots of chips too, preferably more than your opponent. You also need to have a hand which can potentially be hit by the flop to crack the rockets in a less than obvious way. For instance, if you hit an obvious low straight, you won't get paid. Hitting a set of fours though with two of them in your pocket on a rainbow flop of various low-ish cards is a different deal altogether.

With pocket pairs, the poker prop would be essentially set mining against his opponent's pocket rockets.

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