How to Play Aces (Pocket Rockets)

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How to Trap with Aces

Pocket Aces, otherwise known as pocket rockets, bullets and American airlines are the best preflop hand available in the game.  Your statistically way ahead of any drawing hands and are virtually 85% favourite against any other pocket.  This article will provide players the strategy and tips to making the most with pocket aces, and also the dangers and situations were you should fold. 

How Much to Raise Preflop with Pocket Aces?

Most opening preflop bets are usually 3-4xbig blinds.  This is standard for tournaments, MTT strategy, cash games – shorthanded and long handed, and heads up play.

Standard Strategy with AA

When you’re raising with pocket aces you should ask yourself how you want to play the game.  There are various strategies for playing pocket aces, standard strategy in short-handed games whatever the number of players is to make  3-4xBB raise or 3bet to a raise.  You’re realistically only hoping for 1 or two players to see the flop as aces don’t hold their value in multi-way pots.  You also need to prevent limpers getting to the flop to prevent horrible situations.  For example limping with pocket aces and hitting a Js-6s-5s is horrible.  When you raise preflop 3-4xbBs most hands below pockets or A10 will fold out of position, however  you might get called by QJ or 10J type boradway cards or even suited connectors from players in position.

Setting Traps with Pocket Aces

Players may disagree with my theory but what’s worked best for me in the following situation has been successful.

When you’re in a situation where one player has raised preflop and everyone else has folded, a call here will completely remove the strength-value of your hand.  This strategy works because your opponent is likely to continuation bet the flop in position and it gets you more value in the long-term getting called more often for your big hands.  If he’s holding a hand like AQ or AK (which most of the time he will) then you’ll be getting huge payoffs if he hits top pair.  Of course there is always an element of risk playing aces in this way pre-flop, however there are always ways to reduce this by being smart post-flop.

In a situation holding pocket rockets where you think you could be up against two pair or even trips, you need to re-raise your opponent to see where you stand.  If he’s caught a great hand he’s likely going to re-raise you or shove for value.  What I’m talking about here is a pot-sized bet.  For example you call a min raise pre-flop against one opponent and the flop comes 10d-Js-Qh, and your opponent leads out with a half pot bet.  Now you have to consider that he could be holding AK – and that has you beat.  The point is you don’t know where you stand, so a pot-sized re-raise (or twice his initial bet) will tell you.  If he re-raises you then he has the straight,  if he flat-calls he’s likely got a straight but could also have top pair or two pair.  Of course you still have outs with your pocket rockets including a K or full house so check the river for value on the turn if you still get called.  Your opponent should fold if he doesn’t have AK and he should also be re-raising if he has it.  Calling will mean you might or might not be beat.  However unless he’s got the straight in this instance he’s most likely going to check the turn or river considering you could have the straight too.

Conclusion on Playing Aces

Always remember that having the best hand preflop means almost nothing on the flop.  I would never ever try to slow play aces with more than 3 people in the hand preflop.  What’s more if your in a situation with a flushdraw on the flop, make sure you bet enough to prevent good pot-odds for drawers. I strongly recommend betting over half the pot to get rid of flush draws.

Lastly be prepared to fold Aces if you’re being re-raised with something that could easily have you dominated.  Any scare card can cause a player to shove all in, and slow playing Aces generally requires excellent reading skills and prior knowledge on your opponents to be successful.  

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