In Texas hold’em, the best starting-hand is pocket Aces – A-A in the hole. Your hand is well in the lead over all of your opponents – the “enemy.” To help ensure victory, you ought to keep the lead by forcing out some – but not all – of your opponents. Considering the probabilities, four or more opponents staying to see the flop will make your A-A an underdog, and more likely to be drawn out on. Therefore, you wisely raise the preflop bet to force out some opponents.
When would that be the wrong strategy? When would you want to keep as many opponents in the pot as possible? You want your pocket Aces to be beat! It’s called Bad-Beat-Pocket-Aces-Cracked. During certain specified hours, pocket Aces beaten gets a big bonus from the casino, usually $100 in the $4-$8 limit hold’em game.
In that case, you know you will win chips one way or the other: Either your pocket Aces take the pot, or you earn the big bonus. That’s a great spot to be in. You cannot lose! There is a caveat: The hand must go to the showdown with the pocket Aces turned face-up, and have a minimum of $20 in the pot after the drop.
Under these circumstances, now is the time to switch gears and go for the $100 bonus. Assuming the final pot will have less than 100 chips ($100), it pays to get beat and enjoy the bonus from the casino. Plan your strategy accordingly: Just limp/call along – no raising; keep as many opponents as possible in the pot so one (or more) may crack your pocket Aces.
You never know what the next card will be. What if the flop brings a third Ace? That will happen about one out of nine such hands. Now you have a set of Aces! (Note: The same is true for other pocket pairs.)
That’s a monster hand, almost certain to take the pot – like it or not. No more Pocket-Aces Cracked bonus! That’s especially the case if flushes and straights are not likely based on the cards on the board. With a beautiful set of Aces, now your goal is to build the size of the pot. Your strategy and tactics must change accordingly. Switch gears.
Having flopped a set of Aces, it is best to slow-play to keep them all in the hand until the following rounds of betting when the bets are doubled. Just call any bets on the flop. Then you have two rounds to build “your” pot. At this point, you have to be pretty quick on your feet. Pay close attention to how the betting goes. Hopefully, you are familiar with your opponents’ playing traits. Also, consider the texture of the game: Is there a lot of betting and raising – all to your advantage in this case.
Assuming the river card is a rag, if you feel certain an opponent behind you will bet out, plan on a check-raise.
If you catch a set of Aces, then your strategy and tactics must change to try to build the pot you expect to win. Switch gears.