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How to Play Pocket Aces in No-Limit Texas Hold'em

One of the highlights when playing the game of Texas Hold'em is the joy of being dealt a pair of aces. Pocket aces, sometimes known as bullets, or rockets, is the most powerful starting hand in No-Limit Hold'em and also the easiest hand to play. It's very hard to lose money playing this hand unless you are either very unlucky or a very bad poker player.

Pocket Aces
Ace of SpadesAce of Hearts

Preflop Play

Most of the time, you should be raising pre-flop with your pocket aces from any position. Raising allows you to narrow the field down to only one or two opponents when you hit the flop and at the same time put more money into the pot. You call a pre-flop raise with this hand only on the rare occasions when it is a good time to slow-play those aces.

Early Position

When no one has raised before you, you should make a strong opening raise of about 4 BB to 5 BB when holding AA. The amount also depends on how loose or tight the game is. If the game is very loose, you may even have to raise to 6 BB or more.

If the pot has been raised, reraise by the amount that is in the pot. Example, if there is an opening raise of 4 BB and two callers, including the blinds, there is a total of 15 BB. You should make it 15 BB to play.

Middle Position

Again, when no one has raised in front of you, you should raise to about 4 BB to discourage weak holdings from calling your pocket aces. Reraise by the amount that is in the pot if the pot has been raised.

Late Position

If the pot is unraised, with only a few more players and the blinds left, you can reduce the size of your opening raise to 3 BB. Again, limit the field with a pot sized reraise if there is a raised pot. Ideally, with AA, you want to go to the flop against a single opponent.

Playing the Flop

With a pair of aces in hand, you enter the flop very strong. However, as with all pocket pairs, the chance of improving your hand on the flop is slim. The odds of making a set is only 7.5 to 1 but rarely do you need to improve your hand to win the pot.

Flopping Undercards

A very common flop and a very good one when you are holding pocket aces. With the strongest overpair, you are likely to be holding the best hand. As usual, bet strong here to make drawing hands pay to gamble.

Flopping a Set

Often, with AA in hand, you don't really need the third ace on the flop to get paid off. While is looks like a huge flop, that third ace will also put the brakes on your opponent who has either a split or wired pair of kings, queens or jacks, making it harder for you to get paid off by them.

However, flopping a set of aces is good news when your opponent has flopped a lower set or two pair. You will almost surely get paid off big time when this happens. Getting paid off this way though happens only once in a blue moon.

Normally, if you get called on the flop, you will be up against someone holding top pair or drawing to a straight or a flush, and so it doesn't matter whether you have a set or just a top pair once he hit his draw. Moreover, a third ace makes it harder for you to fold when you know you are beaten by the turn or river. The consolation with a set of aces is that even if your opponent manages to make that straight or flush, you still have a shot at beating him with a full house by the river.

Playing The Turn and the River

As you have only 2 outs when playing AA, most of the time, you should be folding when there is a reraise on the turn or river.

Your opponent will reraise you when he hit his draw or he has been slow playing his set or two pair, or if he is bluffing. However, its usually wiser to lose a small pot to the occasional bluff than to lose many big pots where you have been beaten.

Even if you hit the third ace here, you must be careful that the ace did not make your opponent's straight or flush.

Going All-in Preflop

Whenever you get a chance to push your entire stack towards the center when holding AA preflop, do it! You couldn't get any luckier than to have someone pushing you all-in when you holding those bullets. Against a single opponent, you will win about 80% of the time unless he or she is also holding pocket aces.

Slowplaying Pocket Aces

While it is often advisable to just play your aces strong, there are times when it pays to slowplay your pocket aces.

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