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STRATEGY TIPS

...A Big Hand for Pocket Aces

The Official World Poker Tour Magazine

It’s a hand that almost everyone will play differently. But get it wrong and your chip stack will take a major hit. This month, James St Louis helps you play this pocket pair. ...A BIG HAND FOR POCKET ACES

You choose the name: Pocket Rockets, Pips, Bullets, American Airlines. This hand has more nicknames than just about any starting hand in Hold ’Em. After the initial shock, and a quick double-check to make sure they are both indeed Aces, there is one question racing through a players mind: how many chips will I get from this hand? But how much fuel are Rockets loaded with? Does the ultimate starting hand have what it takes to survive to the river? Lets find out if pocket Aces are all they are cracked up to be.

When holding pocket Aces, there are a few things that you should consider. Firstly, how many people are in the hand? Too many of them increases the risk of one of your opponents outdrawing you, and can cost you a significant amount of chips.

Secondly, you must consider the cards that come on the flop. Flops that are connected or suited will increase the odds of someone either drawing to or holding a stronger hand than you. Other dangerous flops include two or more face cards, especially flops with paired face cards. Since most playable hands include only face cards, these flops will likely bring your opponents two-pair, a straight, or trips. In these flops you can get a false sense of strength when you hold top pair over the board, because in reality it is more likely your opponents have already made a hand to beat you.

"WHAT WOULD DOYLE DO?”

HIS CLASSIC SUPER SYSTEM SAYS:

“Regardless of the hand you have, the Flop is where you’ll make your most crucial decisions.” Doyle advises that Aces are no exception – you must read the board. Play cautiously when the board comes with three cards to a straight or flush. “A player is not going to get a lot of money in the pot unless he can beat your big Pair.”

Brunson stresses that you should be aiming to collect small pots rather than large ones, because players usually do not risk many chips unless they have a hand.

DON’T ALLOW OPPONENTS WHO ARE ON A DRAW TO SEE THE RIVER

GET VALUE FROM YOUR ACES BY USING THEM TO PUSH OUT PLAYERS WHO POSE A THREAT

Slightly less than a quarter of the time pocket Aces will improve better than two pair by the river. This allows you to bet aggressively while at the same time having outs to fall back on to overcome an opponent’s made hand if they should hit.

However, that also means roughly three-fourths of the time Bullets will settle for two pair at best on the river. This spells trouble when you have opponents on a draw – or multiple opponents in the hand. If you allow your opponents to draw to the river, unimproved Aces will often come up short.

A conservative way of approaching these figures would be to minimize the number of opponents in the hand and bet aggressively to push out draws. This method yields much smaller pots but can protect your stack from a significant loss.

HIGH CARD: 0.00%

STRAIGHT FLUSH: 0.01%

ROYAL FLUSH: 0.01%

FOUR OF A KIND: 0.84%

FULL HOUSE: 8.55%/p>

FLUSH: 1.96%

STRAIGHT: 1.22%

PAIR ONLY: 35.98%

THREE OF A KIND: 11.77%

TWO PAIR: 39.67%

CHANCE OF FULL HOUSE BY THE TURN: 3.71%

CHANCE OF FLOPPING TWO-PAIR: 16.16%

CHANCE OF BEATING TEN-NINE SUITED: 77.1%

CHANCE OF BEATING ONE RANDOM HAND: 84.9%

PLAY AGGRESSIVELY

SETTLE FOR TAKING A SMALL POT

Overall, pocket Aces should be played dynamically to avoid large losses. You must adjust to the board and the players in the hand. Players on draws must pay to see more cards.

Play the hand aggressively and take down the small pot to avoid losing a big one. The biggest mistake you can make while playing Aces is expecting too much from them and giving your opponents cheap cards in hopes of pilfering more chips off them. Do not expect too much from two cards: it takes five to make a hand.

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