Whether you play online poker tournaments or live cash games, playing pocket jacks can be difficult. But this guide is here to help you tighten up your strategy with this potentially problematic hand.
1. Always Be Aggressive
First and foremost, it's vital to remember that two jacks constitute a strong hand. Yes, it's vulnerable to have an overcard hand, which always seems to get players into trouble. And no, you can't play it as strongly as aces or kings. But the odds that those fish hooks will beat a random hand are about -335, and it's unquestionably one of the best starting combinations.
When you play Texas Hold'em online, you'll burn through many more hands than playing live poker games. So those bad beats will come around more often, and you'll tend to remember them. But don't be swayed by that. Make sure you raise preflop as much as 70% in tournaments and up to 80% of the time in cash games.
Keep pushing aggressively postflop, as continuation bets can earn you easy money and help build a stack. If you raised before the flop, as you should with jacks, a queen, king, or ace connects nicely with your range. So there's more reason for an opponent to fear the overcard than you.
2. Stack Depth Matters
As with any poker strategy advice, there are many variables to consider. There's rarely a single golden rule that applies in all spots. Tendencies of other players at the table, the game format, and your relative positions all come into the equation. Stack depth is another crucial factor.
When playing hooks, different stack sizes dictate your actions somewhat. For instance, if you're the short stack in a tournament, you're already looking to get it in with far less than two jacks. Sticking to your usual strategy of shoving any half-decent ace, king, or pocket pair means you'll constantly push with jacks.
However, shoving is still the best play, even if you're playing a stack that's 30 to 40 big blinds deep. After all, with so few hands beating you and so many players willing to shove with a wide range, why not?
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