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Don’t Get “Hooked”: Figuring Out When To Fold Pocket Jacks

  • Martin HarrisMartin Harris
Don’t Get “Hooked”: Figuring Out When To Fold Pocket Jacks 0001

There’s a quote about pocket jacks sometimes attributed to Doyle Brunson that goes something like “There are only two ways to play pocket jacks, and they’re both wrong.”

Whatever the source, such a sentiment is indicative of the frustration {J-}{J-} can cause. In fact, if we were to poll all no-limit hold’em players — amateurs and pros alike — and ask what starting hand was the most difficult to play, pocket jacks would likely rate high on the list of “trouble hands.”

Neil Gibson has written a new article this week for Learn.PokerNews in which he focuses on pocket jacks and how it is challenging sometimes not to get carried away with the hand. As Neil points out...

The two matching paint cards are hard for some to resist overplaying — especially new players — with the “hooks” nickname for the hand often explained as not just descriptive of how {J-}{J-} appears, but indicative of the way “fish” or novice players tend to get themselves “caught” in unfortunate situations with the hand.

Before the flop, a pair of jacks rates as the fourth-best starting hand in NLHE, at least in terms of its likelihood to prove the best hand by the river. Only aces, kings, and queens are better, and as the PokerNews Poker Odds Calculator helps us see, a preflop all-in situation between pocket jacks and {A-}{K-}-suited shows {J-}{J-} almost a 54% favorite to win.

But pocket jacks aren’t always going to be a hand with which you want to commit your entire stack the way you would with {A-}{A-}, {K-}{K-}, and (often) {Q-}{Q-}. With three higher ranking cards out there, the probability of seeing one of them on the flop is more likely than not with pocket jacks as it is about 57% an ace, king, or queen will fall.

From there Neil discusses situations when folding {J-}{J-} might well be advisable, discussing both preflop and postflop spots when the hand might be worth letting go.

Along the way he shares two interesting video clips featuring players folding jacks, including one involving Phil Ivey from the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Head over to Learn.PokerNews to learn more about “Finding Folds With Pocket Jacks.”

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