# Poker Strategy: Playing JJ Preflop & How to Make a Profit

Jason Lake

Monday, March 23, 2015 5:43 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 23, 2015 5:43 PM UTC

Because they’re such a tricky part of playing online poker, let’s take a closer look at those pesky pocket Jacks and see what the best poker strategies are for using them profitably in No-Limit Hold ‘em.

My goodness, those pocket Jacks are difficult, aren’t they? So difficult that we accidentally said there are 10 smaller pairs in no-limit hold ‘em. There are nine, of course. Kudos if you spotted that error. Don’t worry, though; all the other math holds up as far as the preflop scenarios we discussed. Now let’s dig a little deeper into how to use these two knaves as part of an effective NLHE poker strategy.

Raisin’ Bran
First, let’s review the concept behind the “math” were we talking about. Earlier in this series, we took a quick look at applying game theory to poker at its most basic level. By considering the size of the blinds and the bets being placed, you can use math to come up with a poker strategy that, in theory, will do no worse than break-even over the long haul. Then you can relax, do your thing, and wait for your opponents to mess up.

In theory. Or you can try to exploit them by adjusting your strategy to take advantage of their mistakes. Let’s go back to our example where we’re playing a 6-max NLHE cash game with full 100bb stacks, we open our Jacks to 2.5x from the button, and our opponent raises us 3x from the big blind. Using our initial GTO strategy, we assume our opponent is also playing close to optimally, and we put her on a range of most pairs, Broadway hands, suited aces and connectors, and a few one-gappers. This is a good spot to call with JJ and take advantage of both our position and the strength of our cards.

Ah, but what if we know we’re dealing with a very tight opponent here? You’ve played against this person for a while, she’s only getting involved in a few hands, and rarely 3-betting. In this case, maybe her range is more like Aces, Kings, Queens, and Ace-King. That’s not so good for our Bowers. We’ll get into the concept of equity at a later point, but for now, just know that the math says her possible hand is worth nearly twice as much as ours preflop. Uh-oh.