The dealer deals two hole cards to you. Peaking at one, you see a beautiful black “ACE”!
Your body fills with excitement.
Your second card could provide you with the strong preflop starting hand, which is 1 out of 13 times.
Looking at the second card, you start feeling nervous.
Is it possible that it is another Ace?
As you disclose your second hole card fully, your soul immediately fills with exhilaration. This is it! The opportunity comes only around once every 221 hands.
You have been dealt Pocket Aces!
But there are many players who face difficulty when it comes to pocket aces. Although the hand can be quite difficult to play, learning how to play AA is valuable when it comes to making money in the game. Pocket Aces, also known as Pocket Rockets, Bullets, or American Airlines is the best hand that can possibly be dealt in a poker game. While many players grumble about it all the time, they lose with it. The bottom line is that AA will be your most successful poker hand in the long term.
With that said, knowing how to play Pocket Aces and having a solid strategy and pro poker tips based on your current circumstances will make the difference between you earning a small pot or a massive one.
Doyle Brunson, in his Super System books, famously stated holding Pocket Aces that “one of two things will usually happen… either (1) you will win a small pot, or (2) you’ll lose a big pot.”
Unfortunately, the odds of getting AA is 221 to 1, so it does not usually appear as often as you would want. If you are lucky enough to get them, you must learn how to play with them to increase your profitability. That is the goal of this article. So, let’s begin.
Odds of being dealt Pocket Aces
First, let’s talk about the odds of Pocket Aces being dealt in the first place. Unless you are lucky enough who hasn’t played the game for very long, you might have observed that this specific poker hand does not occur as frequently as you would like.
You might have gone through the entire tourney without seeing AA as the hole cards. It is common to feel like you are out of luck in such kinds of situations, but what is the actual math of getting AA in Hold’em?
Well, the chances of getting any pocket pair (22 - AA) is close to 6%. Thus, you can hope to receive some pocket pair once every 17 hands or so. That is not bad, right?
Pocket Aces, on the other hand, have much less probability than that. In Texas Hold’em poker, there are 1,326 total combinations of all starting hands, and any specific pocket pair accounts for only 6 of those combinations. Hence, the chances of getting Pocket Aces are 6 in 1,326 or 1 in 221. That comes out roughly under 0.5%. As you don’t often get AA, you must make the most of them when you do.
You may also like to read: Importance of Poker Math
What makes Pocket Aces so powerful?
Pair of Aces are the most powerful starting hand in the game of Texas Hold’em. They will easily beat any other straight preflop hand, so this is not up for debate.
But there were situations where you might seem to lose too often, right? So, what really is the deal?
Well, Pocket Rockets don’t lose as frequently as you might think. One of the big problems with this hand is that you mostly recall all those times when you got your money in good but lost. When you win with AA, it is not a big deal since you knew you were likely to win. They are such strong hands that it is difficult to find a way to mess up so terribly that you ruin your equity completely. Of course, all of this is just a talk. How about some actual numbers?
Against any random hand, AA will win around 85% of the time at showdown, which means that you will win 8.5 out of every 10 hands on average. Also, you can still lose with Pocket Rockets five times in a row ( and this will possibly hurt), but the numbers in the game of poker seems to even out in the long term.
If you are curious to know when you should fold AA at the time of preflop, the answer would be NEVER!
Which other hand can beat AA, you might ask? Well, there are many other hands that have the potential to beat Aces in the showdown. They can make Straights, Flushes, Full houses, Quads, Three-of-a-Kind, and Two pair. However, the possibilities of these holding occurring are somewhat less. At showdown, the Aces are still expected to win the majority of the time. But to make the most out of AA there are some strategies that you must follow in order to play them effectively.
You may also read: Top 5 poker strategies for beginners
How to play Pocket Aces - Preflop
When you are dealt aces, your default strategy in any poker game should be to raise or re-raise preflop. Raise or re-raise will begin the process of increasing the pot. You don’t have to start betting with large amounts, but just enough to get the game going. If you are new to a table and are not aware of your opponents playing pattern, you should 100% use this strategy most of the time. Read your opponents and try to follow their gaming pattern when betting preflop.
You may ask why you should not slow play your AA?
This is because Pocket Aces is the best starting hand in the poker game and the best way to win a large pot is by building the pot for yourself. This is particularly the case when the stakes are low. Never slow play your AA; always bet it as well as protect it. But if your opponents don’t have anything, then there is nothing you can do because they would already be folded. However, if they have any kind of hand they prefer to play (or piece of the board), they are more inclined to call. This is exactly what you want your opponents to do when you have Pocket Aces.
How to play Pocket Aces - After the Flop
When you are holding aces, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is whether the board has an obvious flush or straight draw, and your opponent gets aggressive with a big bet. In such situations, you can always play it safe and fold, or you can come over your opponent’s raise to make sure that he doesn’t have the right odds for his draw. Don’t forget to consider the possible cause that your opponent has become frisky. They might have flopped a set or two pair and maybe in an attempt to push you off your hand. Your opponent might imagine you on a draw.
Even if you have a strong starting hand in Texas Hold’em, you must be aware of your opponent’s strengths. Is he really willing to risk that many chips on a draw? Does he have two set or pair, which implies that you could be drawing thin? When you will eventually muck AA on a non-scary board, you will know that you have reached a new level of poker game skills. A novice poker player will never consider such an act, which is sometimes the best course of action.
What should you do if you get raised with Aces?
Of course, we are not always going to take down the pot uncontested after we make our bet on the flop. The opponents may call or even raise us on such occasions. So, what you should do in such a case depends a lot on the type of player you are playing with. However, when I get called, I usually continue to bet on later streets if I have AA.
Things get a little more intriguing If I am raised. First and foremost, I would like to learn about my opponent’s habits. Particularly I want to know whether this player frequently raises after the flop and how aggressive they are in general.
The following are the two most important stats on your HUD:
1. Flop CBet Raise %
2. Total Aggression Factor
For most tight-aggressive regs, a Flop CBet Raise of 15 to 20% is rather usual. If it is substantially higher than this, you must prefer to call. But if they are considerably below this, you must be careful and even may consider folding. So, knowing how to act against a raise with the Pocket Aces will be determined by your overall read of your opponent.
Remember that Pocket Rockets are not a hand that should be slowplayed. Many newbies fall into the habit because it is the powerful starting poker hand. But this is just before the flop. After the flop, it is a different situation. You cannot control the board, your opponents, the cards etc. All you can do when playing Hold’em is strategize and play through. If you don’t hit a set, remember that all you have is just one pair. Be prepared to let it go when you are facing a lot of action. The ability to put down the most powerful hands is what makes the difference between good and great players. If you are a beginner player and don’t know how to play poker, you can learn and practice the game on Gamentio. Practice the game with experts and get familiar with the game’s nuances before heading to play with real money.