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How to Play Pocket Aces

Dominic Field

Oct 27, 2022

Pair Of Aces

It’s one of the best feelings in the game of Texas Hold’em, looking down at a pair of bullets. But if you’re new to the game, you may not be aware of the common pitfalls associated with pocket aces.

Holding pocket aces without any idea what to do? Is it worth playing aces post-flop, or better to fold pocket aces not risking losing more money?

In this article, we’ll share some key stats concerning the best possible starting hand in Hold’em. We’ll also reveal exactly how to play pocket aces.

What Are The Chances Of Being Dealt Aces?

Being Dealt Pocket Aces

The odds of your first card being an ace are obviously 4 in 52 or 1 in 13. After being dealt an ace, there are only 3 left in the deck. That means a 3-in-51 chance (1 in 17) of receiving a second. Multiply the two numbers to calculate the probability of both events happening.

We’ll save you the trouble of doing any more maths: the answer is 1 in 221. In other words, you can reasonably expect to be dealt pocket aces around 0.45% of the time.

What To Do When Dealt Pocket Rockets

In short, you should always be looking to raise pre-flop with aces. You need to build as large a pot as possible in order to extract maximum value. Particularly at smaller stakes games, where poker players tend to be extremely passive, you will need to generate action on their behalf.

If nobody has raised in front of you, put in the initial raise. If faced with a 3-bet, you should be 4-betting. On the rare occasions when you are facing a 4-bet, there could perhaps be some justification for occasionally calling. You could do so in the hope that your opponent will go crazy on the flop. 

But to be honest, you may as well raise pre-flop. They are not likely to fold anyway, and you don’t want to miss out on them putting more chips into the pot.

Common Mistakes

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes players make when holding pocket rockets.

Slow Playing Pocket Aces

Mistake #1: Slow Playing Aces

As we’ve already mentioned, you should look to raise in order to build as big of a pot as possible. It’s almost always a terrible idea to slow-play bullets.

It is risky for two reasons…

First, you may cost yourself money. If you are playing at the lower stakes, chances are other players might fold too quickly or play passively. Pocket aces can build enormous pots when played correctly. The ideal scenario is to force other opponents to raise, otherwise, they won't do it themselves.

Secondly, allowing other players into the pot only increases the number of hands you’re up against. This leaves you vulnerable to losing the pot. Slow play allows other hands to get stronger with new community cards appearing. And you would want to avoid that if you are determined to win.

Mistake #2: Falling In Love

In multi-way pots, there’s a much greater chance you’ll lose. So here’s one of the tips on how to play pocket aces: Don’t get married to your aces. Just because you’re guaranteed to be ahead preflop, that’s not necessarily the case afterwards.

With several players involved in the pre-flop, the pot will be bigger and more complex. In a multiway pot, you will have much less equity when up against two opponents (or more!) than when up against one. So if you do find yourself outdrew on the flop, you’re also likely to lose a monster-sized pot. Don’t fall in love with your pocket aces.

Mistake #3: Raising Too Big

Although you need to try and build a pot, you must also consider your table image and the range you are representing. Always remember to be consistent with your raised amounts. A consistent raise will make it harder for others to get a tell of your hand. 

Imagine you’ve been raising around 3x the big blind all night and then suddenly bomb 5x out of nowhere. What sort of message are you sending here? You’re basically telling everyone what your hand is and giving them a chance to get away.

H3: Mistake #4: Playing Pocket Aces Passively

Pocket aces are the best hand to hold at the beginning of a game for a number of reasons. In the postflop game, you are likely to land a strong hand, so it is in your interest to play fast. By raising the pot, you get a chance to learn whether your opponent has a good hand, too. For example, if your opponent calls, it is a good indication that they have a strong hand with community cards on the table. This strategy applies well to the heads-up pots.

In comparison, in multiple pots, playing passively can be to your advantage.

How Do Aces Fare Against Individual Hands?

Here are some realistic hands you might find yourself up against when going all-in with aces against one opponent. We’ve listed the rough percentage chance of your aces holding up.

Opponent's Hand Chance of Aces Winning
A-K offsuit 93%
A-K suited 88%
KK, QQ, or JJ 81%
Q-J suited 81%
8-7 suited 77%

The exact odds will vary depending on the suits, but these are the worst-case scenarios. As you can see, aces are completely dominant.

Pocket Aces vs Other Starting Hands

Can You Ever Fold Pocket Aces Preflop?

Since two aces in the hole are the best possible starting hand, is it ever justified to fold them? Like with most situations at the poker table, this depends. Pre-flop, the answer is “almost never.”

It’s not impossible to imagine a situation in a satellite tournament where the top 10 finishers qualify. Let’s assume there are 11 players left, you are third in chips and there are two exceptionally short stacks. You open with your pocket aces and the chip leader shoves behind you.

It’s justifiable in this spot to avoid being a hero. There are no additional prizes for winning the event, you only need to make the top ten. Therefore, when you are in this niche situation, you can actually justify a fold. But of course, this is a rare situation.

In a regular tournament, you are just never folding aces. Even if you’re up against five different players, the worst you’ll ever be is a slight underdog to the entire table. But against every hand individually, you’re going to be a massive favourite.

It should go without saying that folding aces post-flop is much more plausible. Imagine you are holding two black aces and there are five diamonds in front of you after the turn and river. You’re playing the board. Of course you can fold in this situation.

Final Word

Playing pocket aces is tricky, but that's what makes poker games so exciting. Holding strong hands and looking forward to depositing the big pot you've landed is an indescribable feeling. Unfortunately, most players get too overwhelmed when they get the best hand on the table and give themselves away by raising too much or playing pocket aces too slowly. You, our fellow bettor, now know what not to do.

To sum up, pocket aces are the best starting hand, but your lack of strategy may give opponents leeway to improve their hands. Don't let that happen; crush them in the early game.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best way to play pocket aces?

Every poker game is unpredictable when playing with strangers. But some strategies will help you navigate right towards your victory and a big pot of cash prize. Although poker players should always analyse their opponents, some tips may apply to every situation:

  • Slow playing will allow other players to strengthen their hands later in the game

  • Playing aces will not always end up in a win, so if you see a better opportunity - grab it

  • Playing against multiple opponents is never to your advantage, try to eliminate them in the early game

  • There are better hands than pocket aces, so never underestimate your opponents

Q: What are the odds of pocket aces winning?

You have a 1 in 221 chance of being dealt a pair of aces in a game of Texas Hold’em. And if you end up with pocket aces, you have approximately an 85% chance of winning. Keep in mind that the odds are lower later in the game. Therefore, we always stress that slow playing is not advisable with pocket aces.

Now that you know how to play pocket aces, why not sign up for a free account with Natural8 and test out what you have learned today?

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