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For those of you that are not familiar with the term “over pair,” an over pair is when you have a pocket pair and there are no community cards on the board as high in rank as the paired cards in your hand.
So you can see that folding an over pair is a very difficult move to make.
The ability and the knowledge of when to fold an over pair falls in to the very important category of being able to know when you are beaten.
This is a very difficult skill to master but it is a skill that is critical to being able to be a consistent winner over time.
A Pro’s Perspective on the Matter
Mike Caro is a longtime and respected professional poker player and author and one of the more astute minds in the poker world.
When Mike was asked, or maybe he asked himself because he does that quite often, what the object of playing poker was, his answer was different that what most people would have guessed.
Many people would guess that the object of playing poker is to win the most pots. This is obviously not the correct answer because if you wanted to win the most pots, then you would just play every hand.
You would lose money but you would win the most pots that way. The answer that Mike had was a really good answer and it applies to this situation perfectly. Mike believes that the object of playing poker is to make the correct decisions.
Making the Correct Decision
When you have an over pair, and by looking at the board it appears that you have the best hand, it is very difficult to fold your hand. If you fold your hand anytime you are facing a big bet or a raise, then you will find that other players will be betting in to you and raising your bets all of the time.
They will have picked up on the fact that you will not stand up to aggressive play. The reason that other players would pick up on a pattern as consistent as this is the same reason that you should be able to have a better idea of when to fold your over pair or not.
They have been observing the action and that is what you need to do. Playing successful poker requires that you be in the game at all times. You have to be paying attention. You need to be making your decisions from 3 kinds of observations.
Long Range – You must be constantly compiling a mental book of knowledge on the patterns of how the other players in the game play. When a situation comes up you will be able to refer to this mental book of knowledge and apply several similar situations
where the opposing player was involved to your present decision.
Hand Development – You need to be watching the action as the hand has developed so that when the time comes for you to make a decision you can review how the action has transpired so far in the hand to help you figure out what the opposing player has. Adding this to any information that you have on the opposing player in your mental book of knowledge and you will be able to make a well informed decision.
Immediate Signals – Immediate signals are things like the size of the bet that the opposing player has made in relation to the pot, the number of other players in the hand and everyone’s position. The length of time that the opposing player took to make the bet or raise and any chat or conversation that may be coming from the opposing player.
An over pair is a great hand to have and it will win the pot more times than not.
Played correctly an over pair can win you some big pots.
The reason for concern is that sometimes holding an over pair can be extremely costly if you can not figure out when you should give up on it.
Remember that even if there are no flush or straight possibilities on the board you can still be beaten by a set or any two cards that make two pair.