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How Not To Play Pocket Aces

When players look down at pocket aces they usually expect a big pot to be coming their way at the end of the hand. This is not always the case however, and if you don’t play your aces well that big pot could very easily be moving away from you when all is said and done. Two aces in the hole is indeed the best starting hand in poker, but it is far from the best hand you can have once the 5 community cards have been dealt. The trick to playing pocket aces, is to get as much out of them as you can, while making your opponent continue to pay more than they should be to stay in the hand. Allowing your opponents to see free cards is a recipe for disaster when you are playing your pocket aces. Here are some common mistakes that many inexperienced players make when trying to win a big pot from their aces.

Believing that the pocket aces can’t possibly lose

This is a very common mistake among beginner players who know that pocket aces are the best hole cards in poker. Just because two aces is the best 2-card hand does not mean that it is always the best 5-card hand. A lot changes when you add those extra three cards to the hand and often times those three cards will improve your opponents hand to something that beats aces. This is the reason why you don’t want your opponents to get to add those cards to their hand unless they pay a pretty penny for them.

Slow Playing pocket aces

It’s true that sometimes slow playing aces will result in a big pot coming your way, but in general the risk isn’t worth the reward. Slow playing aces gives your opponents free cards that can improve your hand and leave you having to make a difficult decision for a lot of chips. The times that your opponents do outdraw on you will often cost you a big pot and when they don’t make a hand you can maybe take down a small bluff from them. It just isn’t worth it not to bet when you know you’re ahead. If you bet, the pot can accumulate and get much bigger than slow playing anyways. The one exception where slow playing your aces may be the best move is pre-flop from early position at a very loose aggressive table. There is a good chance your limp will get raised and you can try to build the pot with a re-raise.

Not seeing that your aces are beat

This mistake usually comes as a result of making mistake one or two. If your opponent has been calling through the hand and has started to bet or re-raise on the turn or river you have to check yourself and go back through the hand to figure out what your opponent might have. If there is a straight draw or a flush draw on the table and your opponent has been flat calling until the card they may have needed hit you should question whether they might have the nuts. Also, if for example the board has four of one suit, or four cards to a straight you really have to try to keep the pot small and if your opponent raises you have to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they sucked out on you and made their hand. These things happen and it’s better to lose a small pot by folding the worst hand than showing down the worst hand to lose a big pot. As long as you were betting enough to make the calls your opponent was making negative expected value for them and positive expected value for you, over time you will profit, as long as you are able to lay down the aces when you do get sucked out on.

Other Intermediate Texas Hold'em Poker Strategy:

How to Use Pot Odds in Texas Holdem

How To Play Pocket Queens

Using your stack size in heads up poker

Do Not Scare the Fish Away from Your Table

Poker Bankroll Management

Strategy for Playing Small Pocket Pairs