pocket fours

How to Play Pocket Fours in Cash Games

Ready to learn how to play Pocket Fours like a pro?

This quick guide includes preflop advice for playing the Sailboats in every common situation.

Then, you’ll get 6 actionable tips for playing them after the flop.

Let’s dive in!

How to Play Pocket Fours in Common Preflop Situations

The way you should play Pocket Fours is heavily dictated by your position at the table. Here are the table positions for your reference:

positions for ace queen 3-betting reference

Unopened Pots

Pocket Fours stand among the top 10-11% of all starting hands in terms of raw equity.

Despite this fact, you must be a bit careful when it comes to open-raising this hand. The reason is that, despite having a lot of raw equity, it suffers a lot when it faces a 3-bet. Four also don’t have great postflop playability — most of the time you’re going to be stuck with a weak underpair.

Your default strategy with Pocket Fours should be to raise when you’re seated in the Cutoff, Button or Small Blind, folding from the other positions. If your table is playing quite weak (not a lot of 3-betting), you can consider raising from early and middle position as well.

Against a Raise

When it comes to playing against a raise, your position remains a very important factor.

From the Big Blind: You can call every time with Pocket Fours. The pot odds you are given due to your default investment in the pot make it very profitable to call.

From the Small Blind: You should, bu default, fold against a raise when you are playing from this position. Fours are too weak to 3-bet and cold-calling leaves you open for very aggressive 3-betting from the Big Blind. However, if the player in the Big Blind is a weak player who won’t 3-bet often enough, you might be able to rightly justify a calling range that includes Fours.

From the Rest: From the other positions, Fours are not strong enough to cold-call or 3-bet because the “GTO” open-raising ranges are too strong.

Of course, if you are up against a loose player and/or if the player in the Big Blind is weak, then cold-calling or 3-betting become better options. Loose and weak players increase your ability to realize equity, allowing you to widen your ranges.

Against a 3-Bet

Since you should only be open-raising from the Cutoff, Button, and Small Blind, Pocket Fours will be strong enough to call against a 3-bet in all situations. 

Having said that, when you are on the Cutoff, the solver would have you mix between calling and folding as to not give your opponents the opportunity to exploit you by increasing their 3-betting frequency.

Note: Discover how to play any hand in every common preflop situation in less than 10 seconds. Get instant access to extensive preflop charts (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course and community. Lock your seat now!

The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of six sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

3 Tips for Pocket Fours in Single Raised Pots as the Preflop Raiser

The first two tips are about playing from the Button against the Big Blind, specifically, since that is the most frequent spot you will be in. The last one will be about playing from the Small Blind against the Big Blind.

Tip #1: If you have an underpair to the flop, check back 

For example: when you have and the flop comes , you should always check back.

You small pair will always have some showdown value, so checking behind will usually be a good option regardless of the board texture.

But there are some exceptions. If it’s a board on which you can justify c-betting with your entire range, you should c-bet with 100% of your hands including Pocket Fours. Or, if the board is somewhat disconnected and you have a backdoor flush draw, you can fire a c-bet with as well.

Tip #2: Have a set, gotta bet!

I want you to have this mantra when you flop a set.

No matter what board comes, you should start building the pot right away to put yourself in the best position to win your opponent’s stack (or at least the biggest possible chunk of it).

Don’t get sneaky and check back. Low sets are not the type of hand to slow-play.

Tip #3: Blind vs blind, fire a c-bet on high-card flops

Example: You raise with from the Small Blind and the Big Blind calls. The flop is .

When you are playing from the Small Blind against the Big Blind, high-card flops are very good for your range.

This fact, coupled with Big Blind’s air-heavy range, makes it a great spot to fire c-bets with almost your entire range for a small size for both value and protection. Pocket Fours are a hand that benefits from both getting value and protection, so c-bet away!

3 Tips for Pocket Fours in Single Raised Pots as the Preflop Caller

Tip #1: On flush draw flops, having the relevant suit can make the difference

Example: You defend your Big Blind with versus a raise by the Cutoff. The flop is . You check and your opponent bets.

Having the makes your hand a good bit more valuable in this spot. Not only do you have a (granted, weak) backdoor flush draw, you also have two clean outs to make a set. If you had on the other hand, one of your set outs also completes a flush, which makes your hand a lot less valuable.

When you’re not sure whether to call a bet in situations like this, look at your suit and call more often when you have the relevant flush card.

Tip #2: On medium or low paired flops, check-raise sometimes

I’m talking about flops such as , , and , which don’t connect with the majority of your opponent’s high card hands.

Your Pocket Fours are likely to be the best hand right then, but they are vulnerable to overcards. You should try to deny some of your opponent’s equity while still getting a good amount of worse hands to call.

The best way to achieve this is to make a small raise designed to make the opponent fold many of those two overcard hands, while also getting value from the stronger ones that will call (like if they continue with Ace-high).

Plus, if they do happen to have trips (the worst case scenario), you have a sneaky escape hatch in the form of one of your two outs to make a full house. And with that disguised full house you will almost surely win the entire stack of the player with trips.

Tip #3: When in position, you should pot control when you have middle pair

You’ve flopped a pair that can’t value bet and is too strong to bluff. The best path forward is to try to get to showdown or improve to a set or some backdoor straight. Don’t put money into the pot aggressively.

Example: you’ve called from the Big Blind against a Small Blind open-raise and the flop comes something like . If the Small Blind checks, you should check back with Pocket Fours every time.

Final Thoughts

There’s a time and place for Pocket Fours and with the knowledge you just gained, you are much better equipped to get in sync and cash in.

Let me know which hand you want me to do a quick guide on next in the comment section down below!

Want to learn how to play another starting hand? Read How to Play Queen-Ten Offsuit in Cash Games.

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

Note: Poker players like you are improving their skills every day in the Upswing Lab training course and community. Don’t get left in the dust. Learn more now!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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