Poker Hands Tips: How to Play Pocket Aces or A-A Preflop
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Poker Hands Tips: How to Play Pocket Aces or A-A Preflop

Pocket Aces preflop can be played quickly or conservatively. There are benefits and consequences for either play.

Playing pocket Aces (or A-A) preflop in No Limit Hold'em is a bit tricky.  You can choose to play them quickly (aggressively) and hope that a strong, but not quite so strong, hand such as A-K or any lower pair will tangle with you preflop, or you can choose to conceal the strength of your hand so that you can trap someone else postflop. These are usually the two moves that you should consider when playing A-A preflop.

Here are the two scenarios:


1) Play A-A quickly. In early position, you can just call with A-A, and hope that someone after you will raise, then you reraise back. A raise after a smooth call is typically four big blinds or more, so if you reraise after a raise, you have the chance to end the hand preflop and gain important blinds, especially in tournaments.

If the other player plays back at you, then go! Commit all your chips as early as possible with pocket Aces; the hand is a 4-to-1 favorite against any lower pair, and it is better than a 5 1/2-to-1 favorite against any two unpaired cards. In the middle or late position, you can do nearly anything, but playing quickly requires that you reraise someone who has raised before you in the hope that the first raiser thinks that you have nothing, when in fact you are preparing for the all-in kill!

If you lose, well, you just take it as a necessary evil in poker, but in the long run getting all your chips in the middle with pocket Aces preflop (usually against someone with A-K, A-Q, or a lower pocket pair) is the primary lifesaver in tournament poker as well as any cash game player's dream.


2) Play A-A conservatively. If you want to trap someone, you can just do a standard raise (a rise you would do with any other hand) if you are the raiser (and get called; if you are reraised, just play A-A preflop quickly), or you can just call and take your hand postflop. Doing a standard raise or a smooth call camouflages the strength of your hand - unless you give off a tell.

Beware of postflop possibilities, however; psych yourself up preflop on what will happen postflop. Flops like Q-7-9 or 2-4-8 rainbow are fine, unless you suspect that someone has a Set; flops like 3-4-7 (may develop to a Straight) 9-9-2 (fear of a 9), or a flop with two or three suited cards (with suits not the same as the suit of your Aces) should be dealt with more cautiously.

Veteran players can read novice players fairly well, so they could be comfortable with playing pocket Aces preflop slowly and then just carry out any other expert moves on the flop, or on the turn and the river.


Getting pocket Aces preflop is fun, and these two ways of playing it will really put you to the edge of your poker seat and could possibly rejuvenate your tournament life or your cash game winnings.

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