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Poker Strategy | Advanced Poker

Pocket Aces

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It's a beautiful sight in any game of poker, you glance down at your pocket cards and looking right back at you is the best starting hand in Texas Hold 'Em. Pocket Rockets, American Airlines... whatever you want to call them, two Aces in the hole is sure to see your chips moving!
Of course, you are the favorite to win this hand pre-flop, but what about post-flop, Turn and River? How can you be sure you're ahead? How should you be playing your Aces to get the most action, yet not so much that you're favoritism is reduced by a larger number of opponents than you really want?

Lets look at pre-flop first. Ideally, with a big pocket pair such as Aces, a maximum of two opponents going into the flop would be preferred. This keeps the chances of your opponents hitting an out draw to the minimum. You should bet strongly unless you are certain a maniac will raise, in which case you should limp and allow him to bet into your monster hand. When it back around to you again, re-raise a good amount to isolate him into the flop. On a tight table, show you are strong by raising x3 or x4 the big bet, this will guarantee you are called only by premium hands. Of course, you will only take the blinds sometimes. Limping, especially in early position, is not advised simply because you could find yourself up against 5 or 6 other players and be looking for the flop to improve your pocket Aces to feel comfortable and ahead again.

On the flop: In a B&M game, don't look at the cards when they are dealt, look at your opponent for signs of excitement or disappointment, this is valuable information many players will give out without realising it. If you have raised x4 and have one caller, there are two types of flop which should be encouraging. A raggy flop such as {4-Hearts}, {7-Diamonds}, {J-Spades}. The only concern might be if your opponent has a pocket pair himself, but most of the time you will still be ahead here. The other, A,X,X. You've made your set and should be in control of the pot unless your opponent has hit a vastly unlikely quads or straight flush draw. A flop which could be dangerous may contain three high cards, such as J,Q,K. It's very easy for that flop to have made two pair or even a straight for your opponent. At this stage, if you are uncertain about 'where you are' in the hand, make a half pot bet. A strong raise could spell trouble, this is why it's important to look at your opponent as the flop cards come down. Of course, he could simply have AK. How confident you are about your hand at this stage should be based on what you know about your opponent and how wild he/she is.

If you are happy you're ahead, if the flop made you the full house or quads, then there is little point in betting. Show weakness and check the flop and the turn, allow your opponent to bluff at you or even hit a card to improve his hand. Once he bets and is trapped, then raise. Not so much that'll you'll frighten him away and not so little he'll realise you have a big hand and are trying to keep him in. Again, raise x3 or x4 the bet.

Realising when you're beaten when you hold a big hand is a very powerful weapon in the poker players armoury. In a 4 way pot, you hold {A-Spades},{A-Hearts} and are last to act on a flop of : {10-Diamonds},{J-Diamonds},{Q-Diamonds} – the three players ahead of you are betting, raising and re-raising. Common sense says you are way behind here, so fold. Don't fall in love with your Aces, they are simply a pair that are very strong pre-flop. In a multi-player pot, unless your improve, they are simply a pair that could be very weak.

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