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How to play with an ace in your hand in poker


The Ace is the best card you can be dealt in poker, the highest ranked card. If you have an ace in your hand, you often have a hand strong enough to play from most positions at the table. Hands with an Ace and another card are often called Ax (pronounced ace-ex) hands, which signifies that your hand has an ace and a lower card.

However, a lot of people don’t fully understand how to play Ax hands, and will either over or undervalue them depending on the situation. Download WPT Global to your device, start learning how to play these hands, and we’ll give you a few shortcuts as well as a complete introduction to playing A-x hands in poker.

What Are Ace Hands in Poker? 

As the name might suggest, an ace hand (or A-x hand) is a hand of poker that contains an ace and another card. These hands are often viewed as very strong by recreational players as they recognize the value of having the strongest card in the deck in your hand. However, while a lot of A-x hands look pretty, they wildly differ in value.

The strength of your A-x hand is dependent on your position and the rank of card that goes with your ace. The higher your secondary card is, the better your hand is. Whether your hand is suited is also a big factor in the strength of your hand. From an early position, there are some A-x hands that you shouldn’t play if they’re off-suit, but should play if they’re suited.

A-x hands can broadly be split into two categories - high and low.

What is an Ace-High and Ace-Low

Some of this terminology might get confusing, as Ace-high and Ace-low are terms that are already used in poker. Ace-high is a hand rank in poker, where a player has no pair but has an ace as their highest card. The term Ace-low is used in low-ball games to signify that their highest card is an ace.

However, we’re talking about preflop hands in Texas Hold’em, and those can be split into Ace-high and Ace-low hands.

Ace-high hands are considered to be any ace with a Broadway card (T, J, Q, or K). These are the strongest A-x hands and can be played from almost any position - suited or off-suit. The only exception is AT off-suit, which should not be played from early position. The strength of these hands comes from making a strong top pair on Ace-high boards and from making the strongest pair on T/J/Q/K high boards. With hands like these, you can win a big pot against a player with the same pair and a lower kicker.

Ace-low hands are considered to be any Ace with a card 2 through 9. This category can be split again into wheel Aces and middling Aces - wheel Aces being A2, A3, A4, and A5, whereas middling Aces are A6, A7, A8, and A9. You should not play these hands from all positions unless they’re suited. The off-suit variations should only be played from late position.

These hands are thought to be considerably weaker than the higher-valued Aces. They can end up losing you a big pot on an Ace-high board against a player with an Ace-high hand, and the top pairs they make with their kickers aren’t likely to stay top pair by the river.

Ace Hand Rules to Follow

With 12 different A-x hands to play, it can get hard to remember how you should play each of them. Well, don’t worry; we’re here to make things easier for you. Here are some general rules for A-x hands to follow at the table.

  • In a 9-handed game, only play AJ+ from UTG.
  • Do not play A2o-A9o unless you are in late position.
  • Play all suited A-x hands from middle position onward.
  • Choose suited wheel Aces (A2-A5) for your 3-bet/4-bet bluffs.
  • Do not go broke with one pair if you hold an Ace-low hand.
  • Fold off-suit Ace-low hands versus early position raises - even in the big blind.
  • Always choose a suited Ace over an off-suit ace to put in your 3-bet range.
  • 3-bet every Ax suited hand in the SB vs. a late position open.


Following these rules make playing your A-x hands much easier. However, it’s important to remember that every situation in poker is different, and sometimes these rules may not be the best play to take. These rules are more akin to guidelines of how to play the hands, don’t be afraid to over-rule them once you have enough experience at the tables.

How Not to Overplay Hands Containing an Ace

One thing that weaker players do far too much is overplay their Ax hands. They’ll play them to the hilt, thinking their hand can’t be that bad because it has an Ace. Well, it’s time to learn that some A-x hands just straight up are very hard to play and win with.

Since not all A-x hands are created equal, we need to learn how not to overplay the bad ones. Being able to control the size of the pot when we play our weakest A-x hands save us a lot of money in the long run. With games as competitive as they are, if you can save a big blind every time you play one of these weak A-x hands, that’s an extra big blind that’s going onto your win rate. Let’s take a look at how not to overplay them.

Fold Them Preflop

The easiest way to not overplay these bad A-x hands is to fold them preflop. For some people, this may sound like blasphemy, “how can you fold a hand preflop that’s got an ace in it?” Well, the truth is that if you’re playing every single A-x hand you’re dealt, you’re hemorrhaging money. From many positions at the table, the majority of your A-x hands should be folded preflop!

Let’s look at what opening ranges should be when you’re UTG in a 9-handed game. It should be AJ+, 66+, JTs+, and KQo. This means that we’re playing 48 A-x combos out of a total of 192. That’s only 25% of the A-x hands we’re going to be dealt in that position - we’re folding 75% of Ax hands we’re given!

Fold to 3-Bets

If you're in a position where you can raise one of these Ace-low hands, your next question might be, "what do we do if we get 3-bet?" Continuing our trend from the last section, the best thing you can do is fold the majority of your A-x hands. Now, this is very dependent on the position you're raising from, and the position of the 3-bettor, but most of the Ace-low hands do not play well against a 3-bet.

You're often going to be dominated by an Ace-high hand, meaning that when an Ace hits the flop, you may lose a big pot, and if an Ace doesn't hit the flop, you're just going to fold to a bet. The off-suit Ace hands in particular should always be folded to a normal-sized 3-bet. A7o, A8o, and A9o all play terribly in 3-bet pots.

Don’t Over-Inflate the Pot With Top-Pair

One of the dangers of playing Ace-low hands is the potential to lose a big pot against someone playing an Ace-high hand when you both flop top-pair. Flopping a pair of Aces is often going to be a very strong hand. It's the best pair possible, with no chance of someone making a higher top-pair on the turn or river. It's this strength that can become a weakness for inexperienced players.

It's the kind of hand that's so strong that some players will always call down to the river with it, no matter what the board looks like, or what their opponent is representing. In most situations, flopping top-pair with an Ace-low hand isn't strong enough to go for three streets of value. If you try to bet on the flop, turn, and river, you'll often find that you have a better hand calling you down. Instead, try to go for two streets of value, or check back on the flop or turn to try and catch a bluff.

Doing this minimizes the amount you lose against Ace-high hands while still getting good value from weaker hands.

The Most Frequently Played Ace Hands

The three different categories of Ace hands should be played at different frequencies based on their strength. The stronger the hand is, the more positions you should raise from preflop and the more you should defend them to 3-bets. Let's look at the order of these three categories so you can see the kinds of Ace hands you should be playing most often.

  1. Ace-High Hands - These are the strongest Ace hands you're dealt, and as such, these should be played the most often. You can raise or 3-bet almost all combos of these hands from any position, and the majority of them should be defended against a 3-bet. These are the A-x hands that will make you the most money.
  2. Wheel Aces - This may be a surprise to some of you, but wheel Aces are often considered to be better hands than middling aces. This is because there isn't much difference in the strength of the kicker, and the ability to make a straight using two cards gives them that extra bit of equity. The suited varieties of these hands can be raised from any position and can be used to 3-bet/4-bet bluff. However, the off-suit hands should only be raised from the button or the small blind.
  3. Middling Aces - These are generally considered to be the worst Ax hands to play. Their kicker isn't strong enough to be considered an Ace-high hand, and they can only make a one-card straight. The suited varieties of these hands can be raised from most positions but shouldn't often be used as 3-bet bluffs as the wheel Aces are better suited for it. The off-suit hands should only be played from late position, with only A8o and A9o playable from the cutoff.



While Ace-high hands might look pretty, they're not as strong as you might originally think. Unless you have one of the best Ace-high hands like AK/AQ/AJ etc., you should play your hand carefully. A lot of people lose their money overplaying weak Ax hands, so follow our simple rules to make sure you're not one of them.Download WPT Global to your device and enjoy all your favorite poker and casino action online. Check out the fun WPT Global tournaments just waiting for you to jump in and play