Pretty much anyone who’s ever played Texas Hold’em knows that pocket aces are absolutely the best starting hand you can get. However, those new to the game are often not completely clear on how they should go about playing this hand in different situations.
In this article, I’ll share my top three tips for playing aces correctly before the flop. These should help get rid of some misconceptions about the hand and also offer some useful strategies to boost your profits with pocket aces.
You should (almost) never fold aces before the flop
What would you say if I told you that you could fold AA pre-flop; heck, that you even MUST fold the hand some situations!
You probably will not find any push fold chart or another resource that advocates folding AA pre-flop, but sometimes it is just the best option. Of course, that would only happen in a very rare situation.
It most likely could happen if you are playing a satellite tournament, where you might be right to fold aces in certain spots where winning additional chips doesn’t really offset the risk of busting out.
So, if you are already virtually guaranteed to win a satellite seat because you have a huge stack and there are plenty of short stacks left on the bubble when you suddenly face an all-in from chip leader, it could be wise to muck pocket aces. This is a spot I have personally been in, and I just happily folded and took my satellite prize without risking it for no reason.
It really was just ‘fold everything’ written in different ways across 220 pages though
— Barry Carter (@Barry_Carter) March 9, 2019
However, players new to Texas Hold’em often try and come up with their strategies, which occasionally involve folding aces, for the reasons that don’t really have any foundation in the math. Players tend to remember when they lose with AA, and this can sometimes skew their thinking, making them believe that aces “aren’t all that good.” Sometimes they’ll even tilt and consider moving to a completely different online casino poker site.
This is simply not true. Pocket aces are a massive favorite against ANY other hand. For example, against a random hand, you’ll be an 85% favorite. Your odds of winning vs. other premium hands that are likely to commit chips to the middle before the flop are around 81%.
So, there is basically no reason to ever fold pocket aces before the flop in a regular tournament or cash game setup, unless you are in an exceptional situation where winning more chips will not be valuable at all.
Don’t be afraid of multi-way all-ins
Pocket aces do have the best odds of winning against a single opponent. As the number of opponents involved in a hand increases, however, the odds of winning with aces decrease.
Even so, you should always be looking to get as many chips as possible into the pot before the flop with aces regardless of how many other players are showing interest in a hand.
This is especially true for multi-way all-ins. New players are often confused about these spots as they know that it’s much harder to win against multiple hands.
Indeed, you might not be the favorite against all players together when there are several players all-in ahead of you, but you’ll still have the biggest equity in the pot.
Although you’re going to lose more often in these hands than in heads-up scenarios, the pots you win will be much bigger, and more profitable in the long run.
Let’s take a quick example. Let’s say there are four players already all-in and you find AA in the BB, and correctly decide to move all-in as well.
If we assume that everyone bets $100 in the scenario above, you will win $500 pot almost 40% of the time. So while not be winning nearly as often as in heads-up pots (you WILL lose 60% of the time), you still end up earning more money than in a more favorable one-on-one scenario, so never shy away from committing your chips, even against multiple opponents.
Don’t get too tricky
While pocket aces are the best possible starting hand, you’re only guaranteed to be the favorite if you can get all the chips in the middle before the flop. Once the flop is out, things can change dramatically, especially if you’re up against more than one opponent.
Because the odds of being dealt pocket aces are pretty low (1 in 221), players are often afraid of not getting any action, so they make the mistake of slow-playing the hand way too often. While this can be fine in certain specific situations, it can make things much more complicated as well and lead to your aces being cracked more often than you’d like.
If you’re new to Hold’em, you should try to play the “rockets” fairly straightforward. It doesn’t mean you should announce it to the table by making an unusually big raise, but you should be raising much more often than calling.
For example, if you raise, two players call in between, and then someone 3-bets, don’t try to get too cute and flat call. That will likely invite one or both players behind you to get involved as well. At this point, you’ll be in a tough spot as you’ll have a hard time figuring out how good your hand is on many flops. You ought to four-bet comfortably.
Against a single player, you can flat call a 3-bet to trap them and under-represent your hand every now and again but try to avoid doing so in multi-way pots at least until you’re very confident in your post-flop abilities.