Make friends with pocket jacks. Winning strategy from Leo DonLeon
Leo DonLeon, the Academy of Poker Coach, explains how to play pocket jacks, one of the strongest, but still tricky hands to play.
Jacks is a hard hand to play. Many players even hate it. Jacks never win, jacks bring only troubles, my students often say. However, jacks is one of the strongest starting hand, and therefore, it should be one of your most profitable hands.
It is important to understand when to bet and raise with jacks and when you need to lay it down. This article is exactly about it.
Preflop. Always Raise or Re-Raise
Preflop strategy for playing Jacks is almost identical to the strategy we use for Ace-King. Just raise when you are first-in and re-raise if there was one raiser before you.
The standard size of the open-raise is 3bb from early and middle positions and 2.5bb from button and cut-off. If there were limpers, just add one big blind for every limper in the pot. In raised pots bet 3x in position and 4x out of position.
There are no absolute truths in poker. When someone says «always», more likely he means «most of the times». So, when you face super-tight player, who has made a raise from early position, don’t rush to 3-bet. Think about call instead.
The range of the typical nit in early position looks like this: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, and AK. Put this range in poker calculator and you will see that you are the big underdog (43% vs 57%).
Don’t try to set off a raising war with a nit. The call is not a crime. Flat and try to outplay predictable nit on the following streets. You have one key advantage: your hand is good disguised.
Let's start from an easy spot. If the flop is low (2-3-T, 4-4-9, and stuff), your over-pair is a big favorite. Bet and extract the maximum value. Don’t allow your opponents to look turn and river cheap or for free. You will get calls from top pairs, middle pairs, overcards, and some strong draws most of the times.
Go on betting until the board becomes too bad for it. If you see a king or an ace on the turn, don’t stop, bet one more time. Probably, you still have the best hand. If the turn is a king and the river is an ace (order plays no any role), the best option is check-fold.
A good reason to stop is also a strong pushback. If you were called on the flop and got a re-raise on the turn, fold may be the best option. Yeah, to become a true pro, you are to learn to fold even over-pairs.
If you want to know the exact sizings for single raised or 3Bet pots for different types of hands, or the way to choose the best line for flops of different structures, you can learn them at my learning course. Click join now and get everything you need to destroy even the strongest players at the table.
Flop with Overs
Things get a little harder. What about flops with aces, kings, or queens (A-7-2, K-6-6, Q-8-3)? The bad news is that such flops will open 57% of the time. The good news is that jacks are still good, but not good enough for 3 streets of value.
I suggest using two types of lines with jacks: bet/check/bet or check/bet/bet.
When you make a check on the flop (or turn), you hide the true power of your hand. As a result, the opponent can make a «curious call», just to see what you have.
Again, if you face a strong pushback, slow down. There is nothing wrong in folding jacks on boards with high cards.
Another tough spot is a multiway. In the hands, where you are playing against two, three or four players, everything becomes so difficult, complicated, and unpredictable. However, you can't avoid family pots forever. Such hands will happen every time. Especially at micros, where rivals never fold.
Even if there are no high cards on the board, play jacks with caution. Don’t be afraid to value-bet, overpair is still super-good, but step back if you face re-raise.
Don’t try c-bet if the flop is high. Just try to get a cheap showdown. It's doubly true when you are out of position.
A good line for jacks in a multiway is checking on the flop and a small bet on the turn (or river).
If you want to learn to play multipots like the best pros do, watch the video on this tough topic I made for our YouTube Chanel.
Knowing how to play jacks is crucial to your success. It is a tricky but at the same time pretty simple hand to play. Many people try to over-complicate it. But the truth is the best way to play jacks is just play it as straightforward as possible. Especially at micros.
If you want to get more guides like this and more working strategies for crushing the micros, join my new learning course and get detailed instructions for playing small pairs, suited aces, connectors, and everything you can imagine.
The course includes 4 group lectures, 2 individual coaching sessions, and poker software mastery. I will also give you preflop charts, and explain how to use and update them to ever-changing conditions at the table. The price of the course is €300, but if you join it this month, then poker room will pay for your training. It means you will be trained for free!