Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Pocket Aces

Everyone loves Aces, until they do not hold up, and then everyone hates Aces, until they get Aces the next time.Here’s some helpful tips to avoid errors when the best preflop hand ends up in your possession.

Never Slowplay Pocket Aces Preflop - Properly Raise and Reraise

When you’re dealt pocket aces you’re obviously holding the nuts preflop, so you should bet accordingly. Limping with aces just exposes you to unnecessary risk by allowing more opponents to draw against you on the flop, turn, and river. You were waiting for a while to get dealt the best starting hand in poker, so you need to maximize the value of them by getting your opponents to pay a high price of admission. 

There is only so much you can do in this regard playing limit hold’em, but if you can get any opponent to move all-in preflop against your aces in no-limit then you’ve already done everything you can to win that hand. The rest is up to the poker gods at that point.

It’s best to not get too tricky or play too cute with pocket aces preflop with the exception of heads-up play in a poker tournament when the blinds and antes are quickly rising. This is a good opportunity to trap your opponent given the likelihood your hand will be the best hand in the end despite what is dealt on the board.

Pocket Aces on A Paired Board

If the board pairs against your pocket aces you now need to be worried about any random set or trips that can beat you. This is why it’s important to bet aggressively preflop and make players with lower pocket pairs think twice before proceeding when they have likely three-bet after your initial action. The same goes when the board deals straight or flush draws. Remember, you’re only going to be dealt pocket aces every once in a while, so it’s best to play them as aggressively as you can early and often to drive other opponents away. You will rarely if never win a tournament with poker aces, but the streets of bad beat boulevard are paved with bad beat stories while losing with pocket aces.

Being too Willing to go Broke Postflop in Multiway Pots

If you do come to the unsavory conclusion that someone has caught up to your hand because you gave them the opportunity to draw while holding pocket aces, it's also best to know when to say when and fold your cards. It’s better to lose a little bit of your stack than to bustout because you’re clinging to the preflop value of your hole cards. This is especially true if multiple players are in the pot postflop, giving any of them many chances to catch up to your hand. If the board is telling you that your aces are now a marginal made hand, it’s likely too late for you to get value from them unless you want to try and semi-bluff. It should also be noted that you should continue to play your aces aggressively postflop until any problems arise on the board, remember you still most likely have the upper hand unless the texture of the board has warning signs.

Going for Thin Value with Pocket Aces

You can also go for thin value with pocket aces if the table and action feels right. You can just three-bet preflop depending on your position, and then bet small on the flop, perhaps even check the turn depending on what the board has delivered up to that point, and then bet for value on the river. This also depends on the stakes you’re playing for, but a lot of inexperienced players are happy to check on the river even with a made hand in a game with lower stakes. And if you get raised while going for thin value on the river then it’s an easy decision to fold while at least knowing you did try to get some value from your seldom-seen pocket aces. 

Another problematic position to play pocket aces is from a later position in the betting order because you feel like you have every advantage in the world. You can still find thin value if you’re patient in those situations. Let’s say that there are pocket kings on the board with three cards to a flush and you have pocket aces with no piece of the flush draw. Check the turn if that’s an option, and then if the river bricks out you can bet for value with the easy choice to fold if your opponent reraises. Just another example of that you want to try to squeeze as much value out of your pocket aces as possible, even up to the moment you know you will have to fold them.