Pocket Aces Lose Sometimes So How To Play Them?
Pocket Aces are obviously the best pair to be dealt pre-flop, but more than one in five times they are going to get cracked, and knowing how to bet your hand to make sure that you maximise the pot without risking a stack of chips boils down to a series of considerations.
The first is the dynamics of the table. If you are playing with amongst ultra-tight players and you go all-in, the most likely occurrence is that you will pick up a couple of blinds and no more. If your table is exceptionally loose, two or three players may call your bet – in which case there could be as much as a 60% chance that somebody will catch the community cards to nail your pocket rockets. If you are playing either extreme of these styles, the best advice is to raise by just two or three times the blind and react to what comes out on the flop. Even on an averagely weighted table, going all-in immediately is not advised.
Try raising by five times the big blind and practise your continuation betting techniques once you have seen the flop. If another player re-raises you, and you have no option but to shove, the odds against just one player are always in your favour, so four times out of five you will beat him – just be prepared for the disappointment if it is not one of those four times.
Playing from position is equally important. If you are UTG or in early/mid position, going all-in with AA is asking for somebody behind you to come in and match your bet, and although shoving first is usually recommended, when you hold the best cards let somebody from behind you call the shots – at least pre-flop.
The recommended raise from early or mid position is just the size of the pot, and although that may be quite small, you will have further rounds of betting to encourage a greater contribution from your opponents. Once you are in a later position, you can raise by a much higher figure (subject to all the other factors being discussed), or maybe the pot itself has grown substantially in which case matching it is sufficient. Alternatively make a 5x or 6x blind raise and see what response it draws.
The third consideration is relative chip stacks. If you are playing on a ring game, an aggressive loose player with a mighty stack of chips in front of them may have no hesitation about matching your all-in bet – and if you feel this is the case, you might as well make it! In tournament play, a short-stacked player may be the one to push in front of you, in which event raise the bet to the max in order to dissuade anybody else from joining in and reducing your odds of winning.
There are a series of situations where the type of players you have on a table, your position on it and the size of your stack will influence your decision regarding the size of the bet you should make. Provided you aware that for each player in the pot, your odds of success drop by 20%, you will be able to gauge whether your aces are as valuable as you would like to think they are.