Playing Pocket Aces
Aces are the holy grail of Texas Hold’em hands. Getting the rockets is a wonderful occurrence for any poker player but playing aces properly can be quite challenging. This is especially true because as soon as you peek at your cards and see two baddies staring back at you, your mouth starts to water, the angelic choirs start singing and you sit there debating how to make the most money on the gem of a hand sitting in front of you. How to play aces depends on a number of factors including your position at the table, the size of your stack, and your temperament as a player to name a few.
In an early position, making a big raise with aces can often lead to you doing nothing more than stealing the blinds and stealing the blinds with aces is a sad event. It is not losing but it is not much of a win either. Either calling or a small raise from early position is what I normally suggest in hopes of getting a reraise from a big hand in a later position. In a middle position, if you have callers already, you should probably make a sizeable raise and either take the pot there or push everyone but the best hands out. Late position players should almost always put in a big raise as long as you have callers or raisers ahead of you, otherwise limping in and hoping to get something out of them is worth it.
Depending on the size of your PokerStars stack, your action with aces should change. This is really only important if you are short stacked and depending on how short you are stacked, pushing all in can often be a great idea. Personally, however, I prefer to make a raise that is large enough to make me committed to the pot in hopes that my opponent will see that and try and push me all in. It is a lot easier to get someone else to push you all in than it is to get them to call your all in bet.
Your temperament and appetite for risk is another important factor to playing aces. Do you like to play like a maniac and take large risks or you a more conservative player who would rather win a dozen small pots than one large one? For those of you who prefer a higher level of risk, limping with aces is a great way to try to trap your opponents. Personally, I am not a poker star and therefore, not a fan of trying to trap but many players are and for those that can pull it off, it can be extremely rewarding. Other players who are like me and like to play conservatively, taking the pot without exposing yourself to excess risk is the way to go and trying to win the hand pre-flop is how I play it.
The proper way to play aces is one of the most hotly debated topics in Texas Hold’em and there is only one right answer: whatever works for you.