Middle and small pairs in Limit ring games
First of all, you have to ask yourself one question: What is my goal? You can either try to make everyone fold and win the blinds (or end up playing against a single opponent), or you can hope to make your set when the flop comes.
Depending on what goal you decide to pursue, the strategy should be obvious. To steal the blinds or reduce the competition, you need to raise. If you hope for a set (which you are going to make only app. one time out of ten), you would want to just call and hope for many players to see the flop.
But before you take a decision and raise or call, you need to ask yourself a second question: Will my action really produce the desired situation? Meaning, if I raise, will everyone fold, or will I at least get only one caller? Or, if I call, will I get some more callers?
Producing a heads-up situation will be next to impossible when there is one or even more limpers before you act. A raise will most definitely be called by the limpers, unless a player to your left re-raises. If you are first to act, the chances of playing someone heads-up will improve when you are closer to the button. If the players acting after you are loose, you may end up in a three- or even four-way pot even after raising from the cut-out.
Getting into a multi-way pot by flat calling will not work if players behind you are very tight – so in this situation you would rather want to raise.
If you do raise, you have to be ready to bet the flop, whether you hit or not. This is a typical situation for a continuation bet. Whatever the flop brings, there are reasons enough to bet again. The fold equity will be high – after all you are the pre-flop raiser, and your single opponent will give you credit for a good hand. If you have a low flop, you might still have the best hand. If you get a flop with high cards, it may be a scary flop for your opponent too.
So the best thing would be to play consistently before and after the flop.
That of course does not mean that you should play pocket pairs the same way every time. Try to mix up your strategy, so that it is more difficult for your opponents to put you on a hand.
And if you make that set on the flop, play the hand aggressively, do not try to keep the other guys in the hand. You have to be aware of the fact that even though you have the best hand now you also have the combination of all the other player’s outs working against you! If one guy you are up against has a flush draw and the other has an open-ended straight draw, you are up against 17 outs and there is a very high probability that either one of them is going to beat you, unless you make a full house.