Slowplaying Pocket Aces
You may have heard countless times from mediocre poker players about how easily their aces got cracked. Usually, it's the result of slow-playing them so why am I writing an article on slow-playing AA? Is Sun Tzu trying to get you owned at the poker table? Shouldn't we just forget about the whole idea? Well, not if you follow Sun Tzu's principle that all warfare is based on deception.
"Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near." - Sun Tzu
When properly slow-played, AA is very deceptive and very profitable. Most of the time, you should play your pocket aces strong. You seldom need to slow-play AA except when the right conditions are met.
Okay, let's say you are sitting in late position. A tight aggressive player raised 4BB from early position. Everyone folded to you and you are holding those bullets. You can call here with AA. Re-raising here screams KK or AA, but calling here makes him think you are holding a small pocket pair or suited connectors, trying to get lucky on the flop.
Usually, the flop will suggest either a straight draw or a flush draw possibility, enabling you the chance to play like a calling station. Of course, if your image is that of a tight aggressive player and your opponent is the observant type, then a call appears very fishy so you may want to raise here to simulate a semi-bluff instead.
Very often, your opponent will fire off a bet on the flop whether or not he hit the flop since its a heads-up situation where both players often miss the flop completely. Usually, unless your opponent is only c-betting, he will likely put you on a draw when you call his bet on the flop and he will make it expensive for you to outdraw him in later streets. The beauty of this strategy is that your opponent is the one who is on the draw, not you, and he is making it very expensive for himself to draw! Even an open-ended straight draw or a flush draw has at least 8 outs, but your opponent usually very few outs - only 2 outs if he is holding KK, QQ, JJ, AQ or AK.
If, instead of slowplaying your aces, you had reraised preflop, then chances are your opponent holding JJ, QQ, AK or AQ will fold as you are representing KK or AA and their hands are dominated. In addition, even if he had called, very likely he will check to you on the flop rather than doing his continuation bet.
Mathematically, againsts pocket aces, a premium starting hand like pocket queens has only 18.55% chance of winning and mostly due to hitting a third queen. The remaining 81.06% of the time, just sit back, relax and let your opponent do the betting for you!