Looking at Pocket Aces? Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes
It can be hard to contain your excitement when you look down at your two hole cards and see the best hand in all of poker. Pocket aces are the most profitable hand by mile, but knowing how to play it well makes all the difference between extracting maximum value and coming up short.
If you think your aces always get cracked or that you never win big pots with them, then you might be making some big mistakes. If you can plug these leaks, you’ll lose less, win more, and be well on your way to stacking up all the chips.
#1) Playing Tricky Pre-Flop
Stop trying to trick people and play fundamentally strong poker. Instead of limping in to ‘disguise’ your hand, just raise it up. Whether that means open raising or 3-betting, the best move is to get aggressive. Pocket aces is a really strong hand in a heads-up pot, but if there are several people going to the flop, you’re that much more likely to lose to a flush, straight, or small set.
So when you’re facing a raise, 3-bet to around 2.5x in position or 3x – 4.5x when out of position. If there are multiple callers, 3-bet to a larger size of 3x the initial raise plus all the additional chips in the pot.
While this is generally true, that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when you should trap with aces. The best time is when the stack-to-pot ratio (SRP) will be low when you call, especially when you can play post-flop in position since that gives you lots of maneuverability. Still, this play should be much less frequent than the aggressive option.
#2) Overplaying Marginal Made Hands
Aces may be the best pre-flop hand, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be the best one post-flop. A great poker player recognizes when to downgrade the ranking and even fold.
These are common situations where AA becomes a marginal made hand:
When deep stacked on a connected board
When a lot of chips go into the pot and you only have 1 pair
These situations aren’t insta-fold—calling can certainly be the right move in certain spots—but it’s key to recognize that your hand is no longer a monster and to proceed with caution.
#3) Not Going for Thin Value
Thin value means making a value bet when you don’t have overwhelming odds in your favor but you’re still more likely to have the best hand than not. In general, people are worried about getting bluffed so they leave chips on the table.
Look for thin value when you likely have the best hand. If you get raised in this situation, just fold and cut your losses.
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