The Different Ways to Play Pocket Aces

Bethany Jones
by Bethany Jones  |  Last Updated: February 3, 2024
How to Play Pocket Aces
When you’re dealt pocket aces during a poker hand, the strategy for playing them successfully isn’t as easy as you might think. Read our in-depth guide on how to play pocket aces for useful insight from our poker experts.

Once every 221 hands, something wonderful happens – you lift up the corner of your cards to reveal two beautiful, shiny Aces. But, how do you play pocket aces effectively in a game of Texas Hold’em?

It’s not as easy as some people might think, simply sailing through to the river to scoop the pot; there’s a lot to think about on your way there. So, keep on reading this article for our top poker strategy for playing aces perfectly in any hand.

First Things First – Why Are Pocket Aces Considered the Nuts?

It’s true that pocket aces are the best starting hand in Texas Hold’em, and they will win at showdown the majority of the time in games and tournaments. As the board runs out, though, other players’ hands will have the potential to improve – so you want to weed them out early in a poker game. In the same breath, you still want to be able to make money from the hand and build a decent pot. This balance allows you to play the ideal pocket aces poker strategy.

Where did the term “pocket aces” come from?

The term “pocket aces” refers to the fact that you’re holding a pair of aces as your hole cards – similar to any other “pocket pairs”. They can also be referred to as pocket rockets. Outside of poker, “pocket aces” can also be used to describe a situation in which a person has a great opportunity for success.

Don’t Slow-Play Preflop, But Don’t Overdo It

When you have pocket aces in your hand, it’s important that you try to build the pot quickly. So, you’ll want to:

  • Be the first to raise
  • 3-bet if another player has raised
  • 4-bet is someone else 3-bets

You want to build the pot, but you shouldn’t bet too big and step outside of your range. Your raises should stay within other hands that could be in your range, so take into account the stakes you’re playing at before deciding exactly how much to wager. Let’s say:

  • You’ve been raising 3 big blinds all night
  • Partway through the session, you get dealt pocket rockets
  • You decide to bet 5 big blinds, thinking this is the best way to build the pot

In this instance, poker players who notice this are likely to fold. They will see that you’ve got a stronger hand that you seem to be pretty excited about and, in a spot where they might normally call or re-raise, they’ll exit the hand.

Pocket Aces Strategy Guide
Playing pocket aces successfully is a balancing act. You want to weed out players who have hands that can improve post-flop while also building the pot.

Take Some Time to Think If You Get Re-Raised with Pocket Aces

When you’ve already raised preflop, you’re thinking players are likely to call or fold. Being re-raised is either an indication of a more aggressive player or someone who really thinks they’ve got the nuts. Against an aggressive player, it’s okay to call to see it through to the flop in this situation. However, if the player is more of a nit, you may want to bow out, especially if their raise is particularly large – but, most players will say that they have never folded a pair of aces preflop.

Don’t Jump at the Opportunity

Calling to see them through to the flop will give you a bit more information on the hand of the player who re-raised you. However, it’s important to remember that marginal hands can greatly improve once the first three community cards are handed down. So, you shouldn’t get too excited to call someone down all the way to the river.

Suppose you’re re-raised by a player with a range of -J-10 upwards, on the flop, they have the potential to make two pair, straight draws, flushes and other strong hands that will beat pocket rockets at showdown. So, whether you’re playing in a casino or at a home game, pay close attention to the texture of the board – and, don’t try to out-raise your opponent simply because you were dealt pocket aces. Consider that there could be the possibility of a flush draw or straight draw, and act accordingly.

Be Prepared to Make Some Hero Folds Post-Flop

Carrying on from my last point, I would like to stress that you really cannot get too attached to pocket aces. I see all of the advice from strategy articles saying that you should never fold aces preflop and, while that is mostly true, it’s also important that you remember that it is okay to fold them especially later on in the hand. There are times when, sadly, that is the best pocket aces poker strategy.

Fold Pocket Aces
Remember – it’s okay to fold pocket aces, especially if you’re deep into the hand and you’ve run into a player who is making some serious raises.

You will be relieved when your opponent turns over a flush draw or a straight draw. You might have 3-bet or 4-bet preflop, but it’s best to eat those losses just in case an opponent ends up with the nuts on the turn or river. Otherwise, it results in you losing a lot more by calling your opponent down the river and losing to a straight or a player who flops a set that manages to turn it into a full house.

Frequently Asked Questions
✅ What is the probability of being dealt pocket aces?

Pocket Aces are dealt every 1 in 221 hands, and the odds of being dealt a pocket pair of aces twice in a row are 49,000 to 1. This is why it’s so important to learn how to play pocket aces and take advantage of the opportunity.

✅Should I play pocket aces in a similar way to other high pairs like pocket queens or pocket kings?

There are a lot of similarities between how you would play pocket rockets, in comparison to pocket queens or pocket kings. It’s always advised that you don’t slow-play any of these hands preflop and you should almost always see these hands through to the flop.

✅What is the probability of flopping a set with pocket aces?

The probability of flopping a set with any pocket pair is about 12.5%. This is because there are six ways to flop a set (three of a kind) and there are 49 possible flops overall.

✅What is the probability of winning with pocket aces?

There are a lot of factors that go into calculating the probability of winning with pocket aces, and it really depends on the situation. If you’re heads up against one other player, your odds of winning are about 84%. If you’re in a 9-handed game, your odds of winning are about 45%.

✅Should you go-all in with pocket rockets?

Generally, it’s not the best idea to blindly shove with pocket aces. Every poker hand is very complex, of course, and you will have to take into consideration the type of opponents at your table and, if you end up in post-flop play, the texture of the board will be crucial. So, don’t be so quick to go all-in when you’ve got pocket rockets.

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