Avoiding Costly Mistakes with Top Pairs

Newcomers to Texas Holdem often assume that top pairs are the strongest hands. While top pairs are neither good nor bad, their overall worth relies on the cards that are on the table. Your success at top pairs will ultimately depend on whether you can distinguish between safe and risky boards.

Dangers with Top Pairs

If you're holding a Jack of hearts and 10 of diamonds, you will indeed have the top pair if the flop contains a Jack of spades, 7 of hearts and 6 of spades. Trouble is, one of your opponents might have a straight draw, while another holds 2 pairs, and another player holds either a flush or a better kicking top pair. When there's lots of people at the table, you stand a much greater risk of missing the flop despite your top pair.

Deciding to Call or Fold

When the going gets tough, you must determine the strength of your hand. You might have a clear view of how your opponents are fairing, which could be of great benefit if you are the last to go. Even a strong hand can be weakened with so many fingers on the pie, so you might want to settle for an early fold and lesser win. On the other hand, you might need to reassert yourself in high stakes tournaments when the chips are low.

The number of players will largely determine the risks involved, so you must stay alert and never risk more than you could ever possibly win. When in doubt, cut your losses before they occur and never commit all your chips to danger flops.

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