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Pocket Aces The Worst Hand Ever
I was playing at the Bicycle Casino the other day and I once again heard someone utter the words that annoy me unlike any other, “I hate pocket aces, they’re the worst hand in poker because you either win a little or lose a lot”. Other than hearing that motto quoted in practically every poker book ever written (as more of a joke rather than a true poker statement), I’ve been hearing it a lot at the tables over the last few years. The honest truth is, however, is that pocket aces are the absolute strongest starting hand in poker, and when played correctly, as with any two cards, you can make a considerable profit.
Why do so many players think pocket aces are unlucky or useless? Probably because they don’t know how to play them correctly. Often times, players will play aces one of two ways, either A. They’ll limp in and continue to play slow on all the streets until they inevitably fold, or B. They will hold on to the cards for dear life and call any bet and raise no matter how the board plays out. Obviously, playing any two cards the same way every time is a recipe for disaster, and getting grouped in with one of the two stereotypical methodologies mentioned here is why so many great pocket aces opportunities are wasted.
By the general rule of thumb, in the majority of situations, you want to raise with your aces pre-flop. The objective is to narrow down the field of players to about 1 to 2 callers. If you limp and let too many opponents see the flop for cheap, you’ll have no idea where anyone stands in the hand. If you raise and a few call, you’ll at least know that they have something worth holding onto.
After the flop, many players tend to freeze up and check, which could be the correct play in some rare occasions, but more often than not you’re probably still holding the best hand. Bet on the flop, you are likely only to get one caller. If you get raised, you need to take another look at the flop to make sure you’re not falling into a trap. But if it’s a rainbow board (meaning no two matching suits) with no straight draws, the raiser might be holding just top pair according to what came on the flop (lets say a king). Continue to play as if you yourself flopped top pair, instead of worrying about every possible scenario where your hand can be dominated.
Remember, almost no one suspects pocket aces. If your opponent flops a set against your aces, that’s just bad luck for you, but it should not influence the way you play your aces next time. Play your aces with smart, aware and aggressive sensibilities, and you’ll see just why they can be your best friends.