A pair of jacks shares some of the strength of higher pocket pairs, but it is more sensitive to the possibility of overcards. In general, JJ is best played short-handed so that there's a reasonable probability that a single overcard (especially a king or queen) won't pair any opponent. However, in Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players, David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth suggest that beyond a certain point the diminishing returns of knocking opponents out no longer make sense: for set value it is better to have as many opponents as possible in the hand. Therefore, according to their argument, JJ against three or four opponents is the worst possible scenario; players with JJ should try to play it against more than four or fewer than three opponents for the pot.
Probabilities and odds
- Of any pair hitting at least a set on the flop: 12.8 % (6.9 to 1 against)
- Of flopping an overpair (all three cards below J): 36.4 % (1.75 to 1 against)
- Of flopping an overpair or set: 49.2% (even money)
- David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth, Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players, p. ??
- Ed Miller, Getting Started in Hold 'em, p. ??
|PokerWiki's guide to limit hold 'em preflop play|