On the flop one of the most important characteristics of a hand is the ability for it to develop into a hand that can win bets on the turn and river. With a pocket pair you have a very small chance to improve, but when you do you can win big turn and river bets. My intuition says that you should usually bet any pocket pair on the flop in position unless you have a very large chance of being check raised. Let’s see how the math works out.
For the sake of simplicity I am going to assume that whenever we improve to a set we win the hand, which would be pretty likely on a dry board. Our opponent is folding to turn barrels 30% of the time and river barrels 40% of the time. They don’t lead the turn. This is an ideal situation because we get to realize our full equity. I’m also assuming that we don’t have the best hand when we are called.
The pot on the flop is 7 big blinds, and we are planning to cbet 5 big blinds. The turn bet will be 13 into a pot of 17. The river bet will be 30 into 43. When we improve on the turn we win 12 + 13*.7 + 30*.7*.6, or 33.7. When we improve on the river we win 12 + 13*.7, excluding the possibility we get two bets in, which is 21.1. When we lose, we lose 5 bb. Assuming 0 fold equity, we have 33.7*2/47 + 21.1*2/46 – 5*45/47*44/46, or -2.2 bb equity. That means we are only risking 2.2 big blinds to win the 7 big blinds in the pot. Thus our bet only has to succeed 23% of the time to be profitable, compared with 41.5% of the time when we have no equity.
Almost always we are going to have 23% fold equity on a flop bet versus one or two opponents. Consequently, we should be betting unimproved pocket pairs a high percentage of the time when we are in position and have a good spot to bluff.