Post Flop Play: Playing an Over Pair
An “over pair” in No Limit Hold Em is when you
are holding a pair larger than the board, and usually is
considered to be a pair over pocket nines. You really want
them to be in that range or above to feel comfortable on
a low board because your opponent’s odds of catching
one over card will go down significantly on the turn and
You want to play your over pair much in the same way you
would if you were holding top pair. Bet out aggressively
with your hand so that you will not get called by drawing
hands, or opponents holding 2 big over cards.
To process how to play the hand you will want to look at
the board, specifically for straight and flush draws. There
are a lot of situations you can get into when holding an
over pair on the flop, and there are some specific guidelines
you can follow to increase your chance of not getting yourself
into trouble, and taking down the pot.
On a board that is all low rags with no straight or flush
possibilities, you can be fairly certain you have the best
hand, as those with small 2 pair possibilities should have
folded before the flop. Here you want to be betting about
half the pot.
If your opponent is a solid tight aggressive player, you
are going to usually see either a fold, or a raise. If you
get raised, you can consider that you will be facing something
in the range of top pair, top kicker. His re-raise lets
him know where he is at, and a re-pop by you should induce
a fold. Against a more passive player in this situation,
if you get called, you can expect them to be holding top
pair or better. A passive player will not raise you here.
You can safely bet again on the turn, however if your called
or raised, you might want to check the river.
The other common flop you are going to see when holding
an over pair is one that has a straight and/or flush draw.
You need to play more aggressive in this situation, as you
really do not want anyone with one card straight or flush
draws hitting their hand. Here betting ¾ of the pot,
and sometimes the full pot works well.
Against the TAG player, you are rarely going to be seeing
a drawing hand being played. If you get raised here, they
are probably putting you on a draw. You can make a re-raise
and possibly force a fold, however if you get re-popped,
you must respect their hand.
A passive player is also going to be calling with top pair
or better and will play the hand similar to a TAG player
in this situation. If you are playing an opponent with a
high aggression factor, you have to be careful. An aggressive
player will chase his draw to at least the turn. If the
turn bricks them, bet enough to push them out of the pot.
If the flop is paired, all suited, or connected you must
proceed with caution, as you are probably not good here
with your over pair. You should be bet/folding the flop
in this situation. The most important thing to do when holding
an over pair is to extract maximum value when you have the
winner, and to lose the minimum when you are second best.