You just paired the biggest card on the board and you think you have a big lead in the hand, but if your other card is not big enough, you could be a big 6 to 1 underdog to win the hand.
The other card in your hand is your “kicker card” and may come into play if an opponent also has the same pair as you do. If you have A-7 and an opponent has A-J, a board like A-9-6-4-2 could be very costly for you.
You may think that you have the best hand but your opponent’s jack kicker card beats you because your high hand is A-A-9-7-6, while your opponent’s high hand is A-A-J-9-6. It can be tough to fold a hand like this when you have it, and these situations will often cost you chips.
As a player it’s tough to figure out if an opponent has you “out-kicked”. Once you’re in this type of situation it’s hard to get out of it without it affecting your chip stack. The best way to avoid this is to practice better hand selection.
That means before you decide to play in a hand, you should consider the size of both of your cards. Staying away from hands that consist of a big card and a small card will help to prevent this from happening to you.
You should stick to playing hands like pocket pairs or ones that consist of two big cards like K-Q or A-K. This will keep you out of kicker trouble and your opponents will realize you choose good starting hands.
The only exception to this rule is when you have a suited ace. An ace with a small card is OK when it’s the same suit because it gives you a chance to hit the nut flush – if the board cards cooperate, of course.
Good poker practices include being patient enough to wait for good cards to come to you before getting into a hand. Playing any two cards will eventually get you into trouble and cost you chips, so choose starting hands wisely.