I have written many poker articles over the last 30 years. I hope to share them with you. They are all my content. Feel free to argue, critique and hopefully gain some insite. I will try and upload one or so a week. Enjoy.....
A pocket pair of Aces is such a beautiful sight, or is it? I can't think of a hand I'd rather start the hold'em game with. It is a mathematically accepted fact that "pocket rockets", as they are often referred to, as a starting hand will win 33% of the time. That is the highest percentage of any two starting cards, and by a wide margin.You've heard the good news. Now, let's deal with the other side of pocket Aces first.
If they win 33% of the time, that means they lose 66% of the time. That means you can expect to lose 2 out of 3 times that you play them. Wait a minute! You say, "That's not fair." Strangely enough, it is the truth. How should you play and take advantage of those numbers?
First, just being aware that you will lose more times than win with AA, will help you accept emotionally when AA doesn't win. When you hear someone say, "I had AA dealt to me three times and lost all three times..." that it is not much of a distortion at all. Hold'em is a game ruled by emotion. You must learn to harness emotion and use it only at the right times.
Let's talk about the specific strategies of playing pocket Aces.Your position in the hand where you are dealt AA is important, and can vary your choices of how to play the hand properly. Pocket Aces do best when played head up against one player, maybe two at most. Their losing percentages increase dramatically in a multi-player hand, especially when there are four or more players to see the flop. Be very aware and remember that fact.
If you are in one of the first two positions after the blinds, you better raise with them. I would not hesitate if there is but one player in the hand, that you make it a re-raise. You want to eliminate players to have the most success.
The same would apply if you are in a late position with no one in, or just one player. When there are several players in the pot already, you have lost some of the strength of AA. In low limit (limit and no limit) games where there might be 5 or 6 players already in the hand, before the flop, you might want to consider just calling with AA. This gives the hand a bit of deception if you should happen to hit that set (three of a kind) by a third ace coming on the flop.
If you don't get another ace, or if the flop is obviously dangerous, try and limit your loss potential. Don't be afraid to throw those aces away when three to a straight flops, or three to a flush flops. If you don't have the ace to that flush on the board, bail out fast if there is any betting action shown. In the long run you will save a lot of heartache and anguish. (and chips)
Even if the ace were to come on the turn, remember that one of the only two aces left is going to make a four flush on the board. Now your hand is worse and you start telling yourself, "well, if the board pairs I have the nut full house." (nut hand: the highest possible)
Yes, that will occasionally happen. But realize that you need not one, but two perfect events to happen. You must get the only ace left that doesn't match the flush cards out there. And, you must get the board to pair. Even then you have the ever-so-slight chance that when it pairs it gives a player four of a kind.
Many of the above scenarios will cost you a lot of money to get to the river card. (last card on the table) Sometimes in poker it is not what you win, but what you don't lose that is important.
Pocket aces can be played many ways, and should be played in a variety of ways, to keep your opponents off balance. Accept that you might lose with AA with a lot of players in the hand. Remember, it's just another pair until the flop comes out.
Show strength only when it will eliminate players BEFORE they have entered the pot. Players, especially in low limit games, will rarely throw their hands away because of just one raise. They consider the pot "too big to throw my hand away now!!" Watch the flop when you have AA. Don't have blinders on. Don't only see your hand. The next hand will be dealt shortly.
Your stack may not have suffered much damage if you can throw AA away when it looks hopeless. In no-limit, it can cost you the tournament, or all your chips to think "all-in" is the only way to play AA.
You can only win if you still have chips left when the hand is over.