Many poker players will say that they think pocket jacks are the toughest hand to play in all of poker. While they can certainly be a challenge to play, you should always remember that pocket jacks are still one of the best possible starting hands in all of Texas Hold’em and are therefore very profitable. Pre flop play can be a bit of an issue with pocket jacks, and it is perhaps the toughest stage. Some players advocate 4 betting pre flop with pocket jacks, others think they aren’t even worth a 3 bet, and still others will fold to 3 bets. The value of pocket jacks pre flop will always come down to variables specific to your table, be it the limits you are at or the opponents you are facing. The post flop play should remain fairly easy as you will be able to simply adjust to what is on the board.
$0.50 BB (5 handed)
Hero (BB) ($69.26)
Preflop: Hero is BB with Jh, Jd
1 fold, MP calls $0.50, 1 fold, SB calls $0.25, Hero bets $2, MP calls $1.50, 1 fold
Pre flop we are dealt pocket jacks. There are a few limpers ahead of us and it is important that we extract some value from them. The best way to do this is of course through a raise. We make a raise to 4x BB (four times the big blind) and are only called by the MP (middle position player). We will go to the flop out of position.
Flop: ($4.50) 2h, Ac, Kc (2 players)
Hero bets $2.25, MP calls $2.25
The flop is far from the best that we could have hoped for as two out of three possible over cards are now out. The best play on a flop like this, especially when considering the pre flop action, would be to check the flop and see how the MP reacts. If the MP makes a smallish bet we can call and see what happens on the turn, but betting the flop will make playing the turn and river extremely difficult unless the MP folds to our lead bet on the flop. We make the half pot bet on the flop and are called.
Turn: ($9) Ad (2 players)
Hero checks, MP bets $3, Hero calls $3
The turn pairs the board. If we bet the flop we should have bet the turn as well as we can prevent the MP from seeing a free river card if they are on the flush draw. We check and call the small bet from the MP. It would have been fine if we let go of our hand on the turn as there is a very small chance that we are good. Instead we elect to call and will see the river.
River: ($15) 9d (2 players)
Hero checks, MP bets $15, Hero folds
The river blanks and we only beat a bluff or a missed draw. We will need to check and hope that MP checks back. We do check but the MP makes a pot sized bet. Now we are forced to fold because we are pretty much never going to have the best hand. A turn fold would have saved us $3 and a flop check might have saved us even more.
Total pot: $15 | Rake: $1.25
MP didn’t show
Outcome: MP won $13.75