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Poker: Slowplaying Pocket Aces

Written by:   Nick Kisberg

Slowplaying Pocket Aces

The truth is, most of the time you're usually going to either win a small pot or lose a big one with Pocket Aces. It's a big hand. The biggest hand (before the flop, at least). It's very tough to lay down, and it's very tough to know when you're beaten. The key to playing pocket Aces is: Don't get greedy and never slowplay 'em! Well, almost never slowplay 'em. There are a few situations where you might consider it, but we'll get into that later. If you follow this advice you will cut down your bad beats considerably. You might be playing in smaller pots, but at least you'll be winning most of the time!

So, let's begin with our first piece of advice when holding pocket Aces: Don't get greedy. A win is a win. What is the only reason to slowplay a hand? To make more money by trapping your opponents in for additional bets when you have a big hand. That's sound in theory, but Aces are a very vulnerable hand. You should rarely slowplay a hand at a point where it's still vulnerable. Think about all the hands that can beat you after the flop - two pair, trips, a straight, a flush, a full house, etc. Do you want to let a garbage hand in cheaply that can hit one of these hands?

Poker, especially online poker, is filled with players who like to gamble it up. They throw caution to the wind when they're holding 5-8 offsuit and will call the minimum bet without hesitation. You can make a case (not a very strong one, but a case nonetheless) for them, too. If it's so cheap to get in, why not play every hand hoping to flop a monster? You and I might not think that way, but plenty of people do. You'll also be playing with a good number of people who have a lot of money and are playing poker for kicks. They'll play every hand because the money doesn't mean much to them. Do you want to make it easier on them?

Raise your Aces!

You should raise your Aces preflop most of the time, especially in online play. You wouldn't be making a mistake if you raised them EVERY time. If you're playing NL, raise at least 3 to 4 times the big blind. By doing this, you're making it at least that much harder for your opponents to call you without a hand. You'll still get bad players who will call you without any cards only to break your hand, but at least you're making them think twice about doing it. Don't get greedy. If everyone folds to you, you've still won the pot, right? I'll take winning a small pot over a losing a big one every day of the week.

My second is: never slowplay 'em. You've already raised preflop, so when 3 rags come out on the flop, bet or raise it again! Your opponent still might have you beaten, but he could also be on a draw. The worst thing that you could do is check - giving your opponent a free card that could complete his draw. How many times have you been burned by slowplaying your Rockets? Vow to never to do it again! It's just too much trouble. The rare time when I would suggest slowplay is when you hit a full house, quads, or top set without a draw on the board. If you hit one of those, you probably should slowplay and give your opponents a chance to catch up.

Take the following no-limit hand as an example of why you should play your Aces strong. I was on the other side of it this time, but I haven't always been. I had 4-5 suited and I was on the button (last position). Three players called ahead of me and I called the minimum bet. The small blind folded and the big blind checked. Our flop was 3-6-7 rainbow, giving me the nuts! The big blind bets for the minimum, the other 3 players fold, and I raise it to the size of the pot. He immediately reraises and puts his whole stack in! I have him covered and so I obviously call his bet. The turn and river were inconsequential and I drag a huge pot. I had the 4-5 this time, but how many times have you had the A-A in that situation? You must raise your Aces because I fold every time with my 4-5 to a good-sized raise.

Don't get greedy and never slowplay your Aces! Follow these two simple rules and you won't suffer nearly as many bad beats.

About the Author
Written by Nick Kisberg of Cardschat.com which is a forum dedicated to the players of online poker. Also includes online poker strategy articles such as a 3 part omaha poker guide for beginners.

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