Third Street ->> Middle Pairs


When playing poker, many players had made the mistake of raising with any pair. They had believed that a pair, even if it had been just middle one, was some type of monster hand on the third street.

The automatic thing to have done? Tossing out another chip or two to raise the bet. More often than not, this habit would have cost you money in the long run unless your cards had been live and you had an excellent kicker.


There’s that word again: kicker. Peter had touched on it in the previous chapter, when he had noted that a big pair was great, but it had been even better with a big kicker to boot.

When playing poker, with a medium pair, a big kicker was even more important, whether your pair was hidden or split. Why? The answer should have become clear if you had just taken a moment to think about it.

For example, you had a pair of pocket sevens, with a king on the board, and you had been in the middle position. Looking around the board, you would have seen other sevens or kings. Cool!

The action had come to you, and when you would have seen nothing too threatening to your left, you should have raised.

Ideally, you would have been hoping to make trips by the fifth street in this situation, but by having had a good kicker, you would have another way to get a solid two pair.

Furthermore, when you would have had a high kicker showing on the board in this situation, in poker, it could have been especially beneficial when you’d have paired the door card, because by having raised on the third street, you would have caused many players to presume you for trip kings on the fourth street.

When playing poker, now that we’ve looked at this situation in which you had a pair, a good kicker, and all of your cards to improve your pair live, you should have realized that you should have raised in this situation if there hadn’t been too many scary cards out there left to bet.

Simply calling if you’d been in the game where there had been a lot of raising on the third street or if there had been more than two visible bigger cards yet to bet.


Here’s a different poker situation. You have been holding a split pair of sixes with a three (or ‘trey’) as your kicker. Not cool in poker! Sure, you have had a pair, but you couldn’t have been happy about it.

In this situation, if you had decided to play at all, you would have wanted to merely limp in.

With a lousy kicker, you could have gotten into a lot of trouble down the road if you had stayed in the poker game too long.

You would have had sixes and treys, and nine times out of ten, unless you were to have filled up, this hand would not have been winning you very much money. So, with a middle pair and a lousy kicker, you should have merely limped in.

In Peter’s experience at the low limit poker, there often wasn’t much raising going on at the third street, so it had been worth chip to see fourth. But, all of your sixes in this situation of poker should have been live.

When only one card in the deck could improved a pair (which had a mediocre and wasn’t even all that good to begin with), it wouldn’t have been worth even a buck to see another card.

Note that while in most low limit poker games there’s not a lot of raising going on in third street play, this is not true of all poker games.

Peter had played in poker games where people weren’t afraid to cap the betting at the third street if they felt they had a good enough hand. With a medium pair, even if you were to have a good kicker, if it were more than two bets back to you (e.g. you had put in a dollar, it had been raised to two, then to four, having made it three dollars to call), you should have definitely folded.

Yes, you had spent a dollar. Would you really have wanted to spend three more in this situation, in poker, to go in as probable underdog to a big pair or, worse yet, to have rolled up trips? Peter didn’t think so!

Two final points that Peter had tried to hammer home about poker throughout the book thus far: you should always remember the cards and always keep in mind your position.

If, while you’d been watching the race at Belmont on the TV monitor you had suddenly heard the dealer say, ‘The bet’s to you, Sir’, and you were to look down to see a split medium pair but had missed the two other guys who had folded, Peter hopes you’d just fold. In this poker situation, you had no clubs; us what cards have been mucked.

Before you were to go banging away with a medium pair, you should have checked to see who had yet to act.

If you had seen some big cards out there, you should have limped in with your live pair that had a good kicker, and mucked it if your kicker had been a lousy kicker with big cards in your opponents’ hands.

You should have saved yourself the anxiety and the chips and waited for a better hand when playing poker.

Quick Guide….
….To Middle Pairs on Third Street :
RAISE if you have an excellent poker kicker and all live cards, and if you’re confident doing so will drive out the other players.
CALL most of the time – particularly if your kicker is high.

FOLD if there is heavy action before it gets to you, or if you have a lousy kicker and one of your cards to improve trips is dead.