When holding a middle pair of 7's/8's/9's it is now a time for you to read your opponents' acts. Notice that a lot of players would play aggressively at this situation: they are trying to protect their cards but you should not be intimidated, unless you have a strong feeling they hold a higher pair than yours. For example, if your opponent hold a hidden pair of 7's and his doorcard is a low card, then he would try to deter others from playing by playing aggressively, though it is a solid strategy at high-limits tables, it is not the case in low-medium tables - at low limits tables you should act accordingly to the rest of this article.
Your main goal now is to ensure your cards' livens. If you're cards are live it means you have a fair shot of making a three-of-a-kind or even better – four of the same kind, without your opponents knowing about it. If your cards are dead than you should fold, or continue to play with ease, which would give your opponents a false view of your hole cards.
In case you hold a medium pair you should play conservatively, don't force yourself to the pot, especially if you're first to call, but if you're last you can risk few more chips, these would gain you vital intelligence on your opponents cards and also you can improve at Fourth Street.
If you're last to call then you are in a good spot to decide whether to stay in or fold, it gives you time to collect details which would help you to get a good picture on other players' hole cards. Notice that in low-medium limits tables players would stick to their cards, they would not often try to bluff their way, this ensures your predicaments, but if you're playing at a high-limits table then you are lost, most players would play aggressively and this obscures your view on their hands.
A medium pair can improve to two-pairs, but you must hold a high kicker, without it you are investing your money without a real chance of winning the pot. For example, a good kicker would be an Ace, a king, a Queen and a Jack but no less, a condition for a good kicker is its livens.
Remember that there are only few questions you need to ask yourself at this situation: What is the quality of your kicker? What are your opponents' doorcard? In what position are you at the table, last or first to bet? By answering these questions you'll know how to bet.
Let's say you hold a good kicker, such as an Ace or a Queen and you don't see any other card as your kicker, you have a green light to call bets, but don't re-raise, this would look suspicious. Also, mind your place at the table: Are there any players in front of you? If so, you can't know for sure how to bet play slow and moderately. You have a fair shot of improving your pair, but if it is a split pair consider folding now, before you invest too much.
By Mike Dent.
Editorial Staff. 26/12/05