One of the most difficult things to deal with in poker is your mid to high pocket pair coming up against overcards on the flop. Judging where you stand can be tricky, especially when you are playing an experienced opponent.
If the flop comes down with 3 overcards to your 77 or 88, your decision is made easier. If there is any form of aggression from your opponent, get out of there. If you are to act first, there is no harm in putting a feeler bet out there and seeing if you can take down the pot by representing a pair that you have hit on the flop.
The harder decisions come with the flops that only produce one overcard. Say you are holding 1010 and the flop comes 37Q. You have raised preflop and shown aggression. On the flop you want to put in a continuation bet, which, for the most part, will put your opponent on the back foot and you will often take the pot down there and then.
Use position to either make an early play in the hand and force opponents out, or study your opponents’ decisions and, if there is too much action for your liking, to get out as cheaply as possible.
The problem with giving strategy advice in this position is that there are a whole range of different scenarios that accompany a mid-range pocket pair with one overcard on the flop. If you are not comfortable with your hand, either try to get to a showdown as cheaply as possible, or simply chuck your hand as soon as possible and don’t get sucked into believing your opponent missed and is bluffing top pair. 1010 is in a terrible position against AQ if the flop comes 37Q – about 5% likely to win the hand.
If you are holding 88 there is a 78% chance that you will see an overcard on the flop. Even with JJ there is a 52% chance of an overcard, so you must be ready to see one more often than not when you have a mid-range pair.
Taking the initiative in hands is always a good idea, especially in these examples. Use position to either make an early play in the hand and force opponents out, or study your opponents’ decisions and, if there is too much action for your liking, to get out as cheaply as possible.