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

Fortune Jack Poker

Pocket Kings, or Cowboys, is the second most powerful starting hand in No-Limit Texas Hold'em. Like pocket aces, you are almost guaranteed to make money with pocket kings in the long run.

Pocket Kings
King of SpadesKing of Diamonds

Preflop Play

Raise and reraise preflop is the way to go when playing with KK. Raising allows you to narrow down the field to only one or two opponents when you hit the flop and at the same time put more money into the pot.

Early Position

When no one has raised before you, you should make a strong opening raise of about 4 BB to 5 BB. 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 Cowboys. 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 Kings, you want to go to the flop against a single opponent.

Playing the Flop

With a pair of Kings in the hole, you enter the flop pretty 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 the good news is that usually, you don't need to improve your hand to win the pot.

Flopping Aces

This is a flop you don't want to see when holding KK. When it happens, fire off a continuation bet and hope the other guy fold. If you face considerable resistance, it's time to fold. Folding pocket kings is not easy but don't try to convince yourself that your opponent may not be holding an ace. It's better to forgo a small pot than to lose a big one.

Flopping Undercards

A very common flop and a very good one when you are holding pocket kings. With an 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 a pair of Kings in hand, you don't really need the third king on the flop to get paid off unless you are squaring off against AA. While it is definitely a huge flop, that third king will also put the brakes on your opponent who has either a split or wired pair of queens or jacks, making it harder for you to get paid off by them.

However, flopping a set of kings 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, you will be up against someone 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. However, a third king makes it harder for you to fold when you know you are beaten by the turn or river. The consolation with a set of kings is that even if your opponent manages to make that straight or flush, there is a chance you can beat him with a full house by the river.

Playing The Turn and the River

As you have only 2 outs when playing KK, 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 your third king here, you must be careful that the king did not make your opponent's straight or flush.

All-in Preflop

Along with pocket aces, pocket kings is the only other starting hand that I will consider going all-in preflop, especially when the games are loose. No doubt your kings will get clobbered if your opponent is going all-in with aces, your losses will often be more than offset by the other times when you pushed against QQ, AK or anyone going on tilt trying a desperate stone cold bluff. You will often be amazed at the kind of hands they flip over, especially when you play online.

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