Ducks in Poker: Pocket Deuces Explained

ducks in poker

What are Ducks in Poker?

In poker slang, “ducks” refers to a pair of deuces (2s) as your initial pocket cards in Texas Hold’em. Getting dealt a pair of deuces pre-flop is sometimes referred to as “quack quack” or just “quacks” for short. Whilst they are a pair, they are the lowest and weakest pair you can get dealt.  

When you look down at your hole cards before the flop and see a 2 of hearts and a 2 of spades, you have “pocket ducks” or “pocket deuces.” While any pair has preflop value, ducks are often seen as not strong enough to play profitably, especially from early position at a full ring table.

Strengths of Pocket Deuces

While most winning players don’t care much for ducks, the hand does have some strengths:

  • It’s a paired hand, which trumps most starting hands. Pairs have inherent value, even small ones.
  • They are easy to play, if you miss a set, you can easily fold
  • They have excellent implied odds  
  • If you hit a set, it’s often disguised

However, there are some distinct disadvantages to starting with quack quacks:

  • Difficult to win at showdown, especially multiway
  • Every flop is dangerous as every card is an overcard to deuces
  • Increased chance of coolers like set over set as deuces are lowest pair
  • Doesn’t play well as bluff catchers or bluffs

How to Play Pocket Deuces

Because of the marginal strength of pocket deuces, it’s recommended beginner poker players adhere to the following guidelines:

Fold from Early Position

Beginner players are unlikely to generate a positive ROI playing deuces from early position. You’re likely to be out of position post flop and/or play multi-way and unless you flop a set, you’re having to bluff to win as you’re unlikely to win at showdown against multiple opponents.

Only Set Mine against Deep Stacks

Pocket deuces aren’t worth set mining with if you or your opponent have short stacks. You will only flop a set one in seven so paying pre-flop to catch a set needs to be worthwhile. You need to ensure your opponent has at least 30 big blinds for it to be profitable.

Raise unopened from Middle Position & Later

Ducks can work well as pre-flop steals provided you its unopened and you’re in at least middle position. Players are generally more solid these days so if you have ducks in MP and everybody has folded, open raise between 2.2 and 2.5 the big blind as a steal attempt. Even if it doesn’t work as a steal, you have the pre-flop aggression and can expect to do well if you’re heads up against the blind(s).

Avoid Temptation to Slowplay Sets

The beauty in hitting a set with ducks is the value you can get. If opponents are betting they are likely to have top pair or better so avoid the temptation to slowplay as you are probably just missing out on more value. It’s fine to smooth call a dry flop, but on co-ordinated boards especially, play your sets fast to extract the maximum from opponents.

Final Thoughts

While ducks are the smallest pocket pair, they still have some playability if approached sensibly. Beginners should mostly play fit or fold with ducks in poker. But hitting a sneaky set can be very lucrative. Mastering when to play ducks vs release them takes discipline and experience. With time, you’ll learn when quack quacks can turn into a monster hand.

My final recommendation is to check your HUD stats and see how much you make from ducks. If you are a net loser, why not book in hand history review session and we can review how you’ve played pocket deuces? The first session with me is 50% off ($57.50).

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: