What’s the best starting hand in poker? Pocket aces, hands down! But then why do so many players lose with pocket aces? Good question! Understanding how to play pocket aces and what mistakes to avoid is one key among many to success in online poker, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help clear things up a little. Let’s go!
The best starting hand in poker
Pocket pairs are hole cards of the same kind: 2s, 3s, 4s and so on, all the way to the coveted pocket aces, also known as “bullets” and “pocket rockets.” Since pocket aces beat any other pair, they are, by definition, the best starting hand, whether that’s in poker, Texas hold’em or online casino games. You can expect to be dealt pocket aces every 1 in 221 hands. On average, that works out to once in seven hours in live poker tournaments and once in three hours if you play poker online. As a result, you’ll want to make the most of the opportunity when it arises. (The odds of being dealt pocket pairs twice in a row are a low 49,000 to 1!)
Unfortunately, pocket pairs can easily be cause for tears. All too often, players get over-excited, think they’ve got themselves a super-power and end up losing big. It gets to the point that players would rather muck their pocket rockets than ride them. That’s a pity, because it’s not too difficult to play pocket aces with a reasonable degree of success, provided you follow some basic guidelines.
Did you know: You can see pocket pairs more often if you play video poker? These online casino games deal out up to 600 hands an hour, so you could potentially have pocket pairs three times an hour!
Basic pocket aces tips
The key to success with pocket aces is to be realistic. You need to know what they’re good for and what they’re not. What they’re not are silver bullets that will let you blast your way to victory every time you put them up. The fact is that pocket aces are great for beating single opponents at showdown, but they’re far from invincible. They’re especially unreliable in multiway pots on scary wet (drawing) boards where you can go down to sets, flushes and straights.
With that in mind, you can follow a basic pocket aces strategy that rests on a simple principle: build the pot before the flop as fast as you can while trying to thin out the opposition. Postflop, you want to be up against two opponents at most, ideally one. Raise and reraise to get money on the table and chase away any limpers trying to see the flop for cheap. Hopefully, the player who comes along will give you enough information to handle them on the next street.
Common mistakes to avoid
The goal is clear, but the way forward can be tricky. You have to build the pot to make a profit without scaring other players away or losing money through overconfidence. Avoiding these common mistakes can help with that.
1.Slow-playing before the flop
Slow-playing your bullets preflop goes against your goal of building the pot as fast as possible. Open raise, 3-bet or 4-bet as necessary, but don’t call! An exception is if you’re facing a deep-stacked 4-bet. Slow-playing here can work because the stack-to-pot ratio in 4-bet pots is very low, so building the pot after the flop shouldn’t be difficult. You may lose some hands this way, but on average, you’ll win a larger average pot with pocket aces.
2. Raising too big before the flop
Be careful that your pocket rockets don’t tempt you to give the game away by raising more than you normally would. Keep the size of your raise consistent with your range or your opponents might get triggered and fold when they would normally call or call when they would have reraised.
3. Playing too passively after the flop
With pocket aces, chances are that the flop will work to your advantage, simplifying your postflop questions! You’ll want to play fast, betting when you can and building the pot to a size that suits you. Checking to your opponent gives away the initiative, allowing them to bet smaller than they would have had to call against your bet.
4. Over-valuing your hand
Never try to outraise your opponent just because you have pocket aces. Always check the texture of the board. Wet (drawing) boards with low or medium cards tend to favor the player who calls before the flop. This calls for passive play with your whole range, pocket aces included. Say you’re under the gun with the ace of hearts and ace of diamonds. You raise, the big blind calls you and the flop comes with 6 of clubs, 5 of clubs and 4 of hearts. If your opponent is holding something like a pair of 4s, eight-seven or six-five, they could squeeze you hard. Check back and see what happens on the next street, knowing that your aces will always be top pair at the very least.
5. Throwing away money in multiway pots
Always treat multiway pots with extreme caution, even with pocket aces. Remember that the more players are in the pot, the greater the chances that one of them will outdraw you on the flop. What’s more, multiway pots tend to be much bigger, which can get very expensive. Faced with the combination of a scary board and opponents who are throwing money on the table, you should be prepared to fold.
Poker tournament tips for pocket aces
Basic online poker tournament strategy values pocket aces, especially in the later stages. When the blinds are big and stacks are low, pocket aces can give you the confidence (and the firepower!) to shove your way into the money and maybe reach the final table. But there are some situations in poker tournaments where it can make sense to fold instead. If you’re playing in a satellite tournament, your goal is not to be the overall winner but to earn a ticket. In a satellite where the top four players receive tickets, your aim is to finish in fourth place or better. Now say you have a huge stack that practically guarantees your seat, but suddenly the chip leader goes all in on you. Rather than risk your ticket, this could be a good time to fold those bullets!
Be the best online poker player you can at BetMGM
Keen to take your poker game to the next level? Register at BetMGM to play as many hands as you want, any time. Join our growing community of like-minded players and you can enjoy a streamlined gaming experience, thanks to our state-of-the-art poker software. Cash games, sit-and-goes, poker tournaments – whatever flavor of poker you prefer, it’s here for you to savor at BetMGM. Why not explore our online casino while you’re at it? Our broad range of online slots and classic casino table games will keep you entertained for hours!