Johnny Moss is a tricky character — he can lead you into a trap, or he can open up the road to riches. Nicknamed after a famous poker ace who started playing when he was 10 years old, ace-10 suited is a hand that is almost always worth playing, but it can get you into trouble if you don’t pay it enough respect.
An in-depth understanding of this — which is ranked among the top 12 percent of poker hands — will definitely improve your chances when you play online poker. Without further ado, read on to take a look under the hood.
The Winning Potential of This Hand
A clue to the power of ace-10 suited is contained in its alternative nickname, “Bookends.” That’s because this hand covers the two ends of the highest straight you can get. But it’s the suited nature of this hand that holds the greatest appeal. With the ace in your hand, whatever flush you manage to draw is going to be the nut flush. You might even hit the holy grail of online poker games, the Royal Flush. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
But don’t get too excited. At 21–1 and 32–1, respectively, the odds of hitting a straight or a flush are low. The majority of times, you’re going to miss. This means your pre-flop and post-flop strategy have to ensure that on the rare occasion that you do hit, you take home a lot of money.
Pre-Flop Poker Plays With Ace-10
A good poker cash game strategy is centered on taking down big pots rather than winning a large number of small pots. It’s all about the money, less about the glory. As a result, you’ll only want to play a speculative hand like suited ace-10 if the pot odds are good. A successful pre-flop poker strategy will always take this into account. Try to see the flop cheaply and induce multiple opponents to come along and grow the pot.
To get the ball rolling, you should know that this hand features on every pre-flop chart, meaning it’s strong enough for you to open-raise from any position. When facing an open raise, you can continue with confidence with a 3-bet (especially if you’re playing from the blinds) or call. If you raise and an opponent re-raises, it can be correct to call, fold, or even 4-bet from any position. Assess your opponent’s temperament and frequencies to make your call, always taking care to protect and balance your ranges.
If an opponent re-raises your 3-bet, though, it’s usually time to fold, as in the majority of cases, this telegraphs a monster. However, it’s worth 4-betting occasionally with any Ax hand (any hand containing an ace and another card) as they are excellent blockers to your opponents’ calling and betting ranges.
Ace-Ten Suited Post-Flop Strategy
As with all poker starting hands, the way you play Ace-10 after the community cards are turned over depends on whether or not you connect with the board on the flop.
You Hit the Flop
If you hit top pair (either aces or 10s,) you should always value bet regardless of your position and be prepared to barrel on the turn. The exception to this rule is when you’re out of position and faced with a connected 10-high board. This situation will favor your in-position opponent in terms of equity, so it may be more correct to check rather than raise. The middle pair is also worth a continuation bet on the flop most of the time.
You Miss the Flop
With ace-ten suited, missing the flop can be worthwhile if it means hitting a draw. After all, this hand has a decent chance to draw all the way to the nut flush. This answers one of the most important post-flop questions — “Do I have range advantage?” — in the affirmative. As a result, it’s always correct to bet and c-bet when you’re in position and hit a flush or straight draw with this hand.
Another must-bet situation is when you’re in position, and you hit a double backdoor draw. For example, if the flop comes king of spades, queen of clubs, 9 of diamonds, you have a backdoor draw to a flush and a straight.
However, if you miss the flop and don’t have a draw or backdoor draw, your hand no longer has a decent chance to become the best hand by the river. In this situation, the correct play is to check back and have the fold discipline to junk your hand if raises come your way. You can’t win them all.
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