Playing limit Texas hold’em, keep in mind that an Ace is the best hole card you can be dealt. Poker players love Aces. Quite often, it is accompanied by a small card, 7 down to deuce. We call that hand “Ace-rag.” Especially in limit games, players are inclined to pay to see the flop with these hands, even when they are not suited. Such is the power of the big Ace.
Starting with Ace-rag, you can expect to pair up one of your two hole cards about one out of three hands. In poker, that’s quite frequent. If you pair up the Ace on the flop, you may think how lucky you were; but you have a weak kicker – the small card in the hole. Another player holding an Ace in the hole, most likely has a bigger kicker. (I’ve seen it so often.) That would make your hand second-best, with only three outs to pair up your kicker and overcome your opponent’s lead. But, he could just as well pair up his bigger kicker. You can only hope no one else has an Ace in the hole – or catches a hand better than your pair of Aces. You are in trouble to say the least.
Alternatively, if you pair up your small hole card, while you do have a great kicker with it (the Ace), small pairs are too easily beat as the cards are played out. In fact, an opponent who entered the pot with a middle pair, has you beat. Your only hope is to pair up your Ace in the hole on a later street, or catch trips. Both are longshots. With so few outs, staying in that hand would be chasing. (Chasers are losers!)
What if your Ace-rag is suited? The only time to consider investing with Ace-rag hands is when they are suited and the pot is not raised before you call to see the flop. You are hoping to catch a flush – Ace-high. That would be a likely winning hand. Don’t expect three cards of your suit on the flop for the big flush; the odds are almost 120-to-1 against that happening. More likely, you might catch two more cards of your suit; the odds are 8-to-1 against you – a longshot, but still well within reach.
With two more cards to be dealt out on the board (the turn and river cards), the odds are less than 2-to-1 against filling your Ace-high flush. If you miss on the turn, you can still make it on the river (odds become about 4-to-1 against).
Because you can expect to catch two more cards of your suit on the flop only one out of nine times, you should carefully think out your game plan. Here’s where the Hold’em Caveat becomes important. Pay to see the flop only if it is a multi-way pot (three or more opponents staying to see the flop) and without a raise – a double bet (makes it too costly to look for the four-flush on the flop).
In the long run, this strategy is bound to help you go home a winner. “Wanna” bet on that? Keep in mind that position, your opponent’s playing traits, and the texture of the game can make a big difference.
Let’s briefly explain: In late position, you get to see how your opponents act before you must declare – so you know if someone raises before you. Aggressive players are more likely to raise. If the game is loose-aggressive, raises are all the more likely; so, being in a late position is all the more important.