Starting Hands – Playing Pocket Aces
An Ace in the Hole – Is that an Ace in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? How you should be playing pockets Aces.
Anyone who has played Holdem for any length of time knows that a pair of aces is the very best starting hand possible.
If you’re lucky enough to be dealt aces you can rest assured that pre-flop at least, you’re holding the best hand. The strategy for here is pretty simple, if you’re holding aces – play them!
Things start to get a little tricky when you’re dealt only one ace. Many players simply love aces and will play them regardless of the situation or what else they may be holding, this is a big mistake, remember, there is nothing magical about an ace.
Sure, it is the card with the highest value, but unless it’s matched up with another ace or as part of a flush, or straight it is just another card that can be beaten by even a lowly pair of deuces. So what is the strategy for playing a single ace?
Well first, your first goal is not necessarily to make the best poker hand; it’s to make your opponents think you have the best hand. With that in mind let’s take a look at how to play the same hole cards in several different scenarios.
In each case let’s assume we’re playing in a no limit Texas Holdem tournament. We’ve been dealt an Ace of Spades and a Seven of Diamonds (Ace-7 off-suit).
First case, it’s the opening hand of the tournament; there are nine players at the table, we’re facing a raise and a re-raise. At this point we have to assume that one, if not both of those players have us beat. Remember, any pair is going to beat our ace 7. In this position, I think we need to fold.
Playing Pocket Aces in Poker
Next case, we’re playing head’s up and we have a commanding chip lead, we’re first to act. In this position we definitely want to stay in – our hand (Ace 7 off-suit) is much stronger in a heads up game then it is when there are eight other players. So now how should we bet?
Well we have a strong hand, so under most instances we should bet it. However, since our opponent is short stacked, too big a bet may scare them off and we’ll win nothing. In this scenario, I think we want to either check or bet the minimum, in the hopes that our opponent will stay in.
Last case, we’re again playing pocket aces heads up, but this time we’re short stacked. We’re first to act.
Being short stacked is a tough position to be in, your opponent can afford to call almost any bet regardless of what they may be holding, your goal when short stacked is to get all your money in with the best possible hand – our Ace 7 off-suit meets that criteria. At this point, I think we need to move all in.
There is a very small chance that our opponent may fold; in that case we win the blinds. If we do get called, we have a good chance of winning the hand and doubling up. Worst case, we lose the hand (and the tourney) but at least we went out with something decent. As you can see from the three situations above, Texas Holdem, whether you’re at home or playing poker online, is almost always more about the situation then it is about the cards.
A complete bluff, if done properly can beat someone playing pocket aces. While a well timed check-raise can often help you extract more money from your opponent(s), regardless of what you’re holding, then you’d win by simply hitting a royal flush on the flop.
This is what makes playing Texas Holdem so great!