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How to Play Two Pair

You have a split two pair hand if both your hole cards paired the board. If you paired the top and second highest ranking card on the board, you are said to be holding top two pair. If you paired the top and bottom ranking card on the board, then you have top and bottom pair. If you paired the two lowest ranking cards on the board, then you are holding bottom two pair.

Two pair plays very well against top pair or overpair. Against drawing hands, however, they may perform worse than top pair or overpair since it is much harder to lay down two pair. Against sets, two pair is the worst hand to be holding.

First, analyse the board and see if the board has either straight or flush draw possibility. To simplify things, let's suppose you are first to act and is facing off against a single opponent.

Ragged, rainbow board. No draw possibility.

With a ragged, rainbow board, you are very likely holding the best hand with a two pair. You should bet about 2/3 pot.  

Opponent is tight/aggressive

A tight/aggressive player usually either raise or fold. A raise here from such a player usually indicate at least a top pair with a solid kicker. Very often, he or she will be holding a top pair. Often you should reraise to take the pot there and then.

If you get reraised, then your opponent is very likely to be holding a set or two pair as well. If you don't put him on pocket pair, then almost certainly he is holding two pair as well. If you are holding bottom two pair, then you should fold since the tight opponent usually have the higher ranking cards.

Opponent is tight/passive

If you get called by a tight/passive player, it is pretty likely that he or she has top pair or better. You should continue to bet strong on the turn and the river. He will most likely call you all the way to the showdown and pay off your two pair. If he turns over a set, then it's just too bad.

Opponent is loose/aggressive

The loose/aggressive player will reraise you even if he only hit second or bottom pair. Bet and call is the way to go against such players when you are holding two pair. You don't want to scare them away with a reraise since they usually have weak holdings.

Opponent is loose/passive

A loose/passive player will call you if he or she hit second or bottom pair. With a good hand like two pair, continue to bet aggressively on the turn and river to extract as much money as possible from this player. 

Board suggests straight or flush draw possibility.

When such a flop hits, you should bet more aggressively to make drawing hands pay to gamble. Bet about the size of the pot.

Opponent is tight/aggressive

Tight aggressive players are usually solid players and don't play drawing hands. Hence, a raise here usually still indicates that he or she is holding top pair or better. Otherwise, they may be employing a semi bluff. Reraise strongly (at least 3x) with your two pair to encourage your opponent to fold.

Opponent is tight/passive

Similar to the tight/aggressive player, the tight/passive player will call here if he or she is holding top pair or better. Continue to bet on the turn and the river to extract as much money as possible from this player.

However, if this player is extremely tight (a rock), then it's possible that he only plays when he hit two pair or better on the flop. Hence, if you are holding bottom two pair, it may not be good enough. Consider checking to the river if this is the case.

Opponent is loose/aggressive

The loose/aggressive player will likely call here if he is drawing. The very aggressive ones may even raise on a draw. Against such players, continue to bet aggressively on the turn to chase them away if the board doesn't suggest that a straight or a flush draw has hit.

Don't get married to your two pair. The thing about playing against maniacs is that there is no difference whether you are holding top pair, overpair or two pair. Lay them down when your loose aggressive opponent reraised you big time when the board suggests that he has hit his straight or flush. Never let your two pair be an excuse to pay them off. They may be loose maniacs but they are not stupid and so should you.

Opponent is loose/passive

A loose/passive player will call here if he has a pair or if he is drawing. Two pair is a very profitable hand when playing against such players. Continue to bet on the turn and river and extract as much money from them as possible. If you get beaten by a set then it's just too bad. Don't keep worrying about the loose/passive opponent's hand when you bet big and he just calls. That's simply his style -  a calling station. You want to keep betting because most of the time, they will pay your two pair off.

Suited or Connected Board.

Precede with caution. Your two pair has a very high chance of being the 2nd best hand here, especially against multiple opponents. You should still bet the flop here but be prepared to check/fold your hand when you meet significant resistance. Always remember: The best outcome when holding second best hand is to lose the minimum.

Paired Board, No Full House

When there is a pair on board, but does not improve your two pair to a full house, there is a danger that your opponent has hit trips or a bigger two pair (if he holding an overpair). When this happens, you may want to slow down your betting or even fold when there is a substantial raise to your bet.

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