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Never Slowplay Aces

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…Fishy says, “Don’t get greedy! If you win a small pot, you still won, right?”

If you take away one concept for your poker game from this site, this should be it. Never slowplay your pocket Aces! Sure, it might work to trap your opponents into catching up with a lesser pair once in a while, but you’re taking a huge risk that will often lead to disaster. In the wild world of online poker, you’ll often be baffled at some of the holdings of your opponents, even at the higher limits. They’ll play seemingly any two cards from any position, and they can scoop enormous pots when they hit the right flop. Do you want to make it easier for them?

It’s true that you’re usually going to win a small pot or lose a big pot with pocket Aces in no-limit hold ’em. This is magnified even further in online play. I’ll take the small pot any day over losing that big one.

How can you make sure that you don’t lose the big pot?

Well, the first step is to raise, raise, raise before the flop. By raising with your pocket Aces, you’re making it that much more difficult for your fishy opponents to call with their weak holdings. Occasionally they’ll still anyway, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because most of the time they’re not going to hit. You raise to thin the field. Your Aces play beautifully against one or two opponents, but severely decrease in value when 5 or 6 players see the flop. The chances are just too great that one of them flopped something better than your single pair of Aces. Don’t let your opponents see a cheap flop that could beat you.

Suppose that you are in first position with your red pocket Aces. “Finally,” you think to yourself, “I haven’t had a decent hand all day.” So you decide to just call and wait for someone behind you to raise. Unfortunately, 5 other players just call and see the flop, which shows up: 6-6-K with 2 clubs. You’re in a very tough situation at this point. You might try to bet out, but what do you do if you get raised? Does he have K-Q, or 6-7? Is he on a flush draw? Why are 3 other players calling your bet on the flop?

With a flop like that, you’re likely to be beat already. Since the pot wasn’t raised preflop, one of your opponents is likely to have played some trash hand like A-6 and now has your 2 Aces, the best starting hand in hold ’em, beat. Even if someone doesn’t have the 6, with 5 other players, you can count on at least one of them staying in with the flush draw. Your Aces aren’t going to hold up very well against either of these hands.

You raise preflop to make it easier for yourself on the flop. If you’re in late position and 5 players have already called the minimum in front of you, raise even more than the standard raise of 3 or 4 times the big blind. Try making it 5 or 6 times the big blind to go. With 5 other players, you’ll probably still get one or two to call your raise. Playing against fewer opponents is the best situation for your Aces. Players who call big raises usually have a couple of big cards, and you have those hands completely dominated.

Since you’re raising a sizeable amount preflop, you’re often going to end up winning just the blinds or a couple of other bets when everyone else folds. Why be disappointed? You won the pot, right? And you didn’t get drawn out on! Don’t get greedy and try to slowplay, or you’ll be just asking for trouble.

After you’ve raised preflop, you want to keep putting on the pressure and betting on the flop. Pocket Aces are difficult to play. Make it easier on yourself and play them strong.

I’ve also seen many hands, especially in online tournaments, where a player is busted out from slowplaying his Aces in a very bizarre way. The player holding the Aces will completely slowplay the hand, especially heads-up. He’ll keep checking and let his opponent check behind him. Then on the river, his opponent suddenly bets a sizeable amount. Our buddy playing his Aces will raise and reraise, willing to put in his whole stack while his opponent is smiling to himself because he’s just mad a straight with his 2-4 dealt from the big blind. Don’t play Aces like this! The time for the raise should be preflop or on the flop. If you just keep checking, you’re giving your opponent free cards that can beat you. You should know something is up when he starts betting all of a sudden on the river. If you’ve incorrectly slowplayed up until that point, don’t be so willing to push your whole stack in.

Play your pocket Aces the right way and make it easier on yourself. Online players will play all sorts of trash hands at all limits, and you shouldn’t make it easier for them to hit a monster with it. Raise preflop, filter out some of the worst hands, and keep pushing your Aces. Don’t make it cheap for your opponents to draw out on you.

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