You’re sitting under the gun in a $4/$8 limit hold’em game and you look down at the boss hand, two aces.
“Should I raise or jump limp into the pot?” you ask yourself. “If I raise, I might scare everybody out, but if I just call, maybe I can trap everybody and win a big pot.” Don’t even think about it – bring the pot in for a raise!
But wait: Is there a maniac sitting behind you who raises every pot? In that case, since you know he’s going to raise the pot anyway, you might just call and then re-raise if he raises. Otherwise, always raise with pocket rockets no matter what position you’re in. Why? To try to limit the field.
You don’t mind playing aces against one or two players, but you don’t want to play against everybody at the table. Pocket rockets is the best hand you can start off with in hold’em and you don’t want to give your opponents a free ride to beat you with inferior hands.
If you’re first in line, bet right out on the flop unless big connected cards such as K-J-10 show their scary faces. In that case, slow down a bit and cross your fingers that a queen comes to the party on the turn.
As with pocket aces, always try to get it heads-up with pocket kings. Suppose an early position player raises the pot pre-flop and another player calls. Re-raise with your two kings. Make them pay to get a chance at catching a good flop with a weak ace, for example.
There’s always a chance you might be up against aces, but not necessarily. Watch your opponents. How aggressively do they play two jacks or small pairs? Do they put in a third bet with queens? Let that information guide you in your betting decisions.
However, if an ace hits the board on the flop, you have to back off. Some less-skilled players never lay down ace-anything before the flop, but even though you might lose to them now and then, these are the kinds of players you want to play against because you will beat them in the long run.
You face the same types of dangerous flops with pocket kings that you face with pocket aces, only more so because of the danger of an ace flopping. You’ve got the second-best hand in hold’em, but when you have kings it sometimes seems like all the other cards in the deck are aces!
Remember that when you’re playing against only one or two players, a big pair has a good chance of holding up, but if you’re playing against a lot of players, you can’t be nearly as aggressive. And that’s the lowdown on why you always raise before the flop with aces or kings.