Folding Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings in Texas Hold'Em
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Folding Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings in Texas Hold'Em

Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings are very strong starting hands, but there are times in which they should be folded. This article outlines those times.

Pocket Aces. Pocket Kings. You play them almost exactly the same way in Texas Hold'em. These hands, when you get them, are the most difficult to fold. However, when we choose not to fold them in some situations, we may hang on to them irrationally, and we may lose plenty of chips unnecessarily. This realization is important in tournament poker, where a single wrong decision can knock you out of the tournament for good. Let us examine situations where both of these hands can be folded.

1) Of course, when you decide to slowplay your Pocket Aces (or A-A) or Pocket Kings (or K-K) on a Flop of 4-6-7, you are in great shape against someone who has just a Five in the hand (not 5-3 or 8-5), because if he overplays the Five and both of you get all your chips to the middle, your overpair is still a 2-to-1 favorite to win after the river. However, if the 3 or the 8 comes out, you have to be careful, because anyone who can risk all his chips in such a hand should have a hand that could match a Straight. It could be a Set (which can develop into a Full House), a Straight, or a Flush, but your A-A or K-K cannot surely match them. Fold.

2) The analysis in #1 applies also when there is a probable Flush on the Board. In a board of 9-2-3-6 which are all hearts, you may have to fold your A-A, unless one of your Aces is a heart. (If it indeed is a Heart, then you have the nut Flush, so you can slow-play or move all-in and hope to trap a smaller Heart into your snare.) With K-K, however, it is different. You still have to fold your K-K even if one of your Kings is a Heart, because someone who plays strongly along with you could have the Ace of Hearts. Maybe your K-K is strong enough for you to call all the way to the end, but not strong enough for you to withstand an all-in.

3) A Flop containing something like 9-4-4 is okay for your Pocket Aces or Pocket Kings, but a Flop like Q-Q-6 or J-J-9 may be dangerous, because it is more likely that other players are holding higher cards than lower cards. You may play your A-A or K-K on the 9-4-4 Flop, because not only it is unlikely that someone has a Four, but also you can hope represent a Four and end the pot right away. However, in the Q-Q-6 or J-J-9 Flop, you should almost always fold, unless you can hope to check-check up to showdown.

4) Finally, there is a situation in which you should fold Pocket Kings: You get a Flop of with an Ace. If that happens, your K-K is nearly no good, because someone could have gone along with an Ace, and if you can't beat a Pair of Aces at that point, you can't beat everything else. (Unless the Flop had a King along with it.)

Your Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings, once you get them, are very powerful hands, so we hope that you don't lose chips or money while you have them. While by default they must be played aggressively, on some cases - shown above - the best way to play them is not to play them; meaning, to fold.

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