Thursday, March 02, 2006

Playing Pocket Aces Under The Gun

A buddy of mine over at Play-The-Game-Of-Poker forums asked me about my opinion of playing Pocket Aces Under the Gun. Below is what I told him plus I will add a little bit more. If you get a chance, go over and take a look at his website as it is a good resource for Playing Poker Online. He was one of the first forums that I became a part of and has some good stuff.

Anyway, his basic question revolved around a 5/10 limit game and whether you should raise to narrow the field or slow play the rockets in early position. His basic stance was that he likes to gamble and slow play it.

Here was my reply:

There are a lot of factors that determine what I do in this position:

Is this Limit or No-Limit
Ring or Tourney
Tight Table or Loose Table
How Many Players at the table.

In your example, we are talking:

Those last two questions are very important in deciding what to do. OK, I'm going to give away the ending early in the post. I would say that I rarely, if ever, simply call with AA UTG. Let me throw out some stats from a spreadsheet that I made which shows the winning percentage of a hand against random hands based on the number of players (one of these days I will get Poker Stove and get better numbers)... So below will be the winning percentage of AA against random hands.

10 players - 31.23%
9 players - 34.55%
8 players - 37.90%
7 players - 44.67%
6 players - 49.46%
5 players - 55.68%
4 players - 63.48%
3 players - 72.00%
2 players - 86.51%

You say that you like to gamble. I personally don't think of poker as a gambling game. It is a game where you take your edge and try to build upon it. Another words, I don't like to take a chance with my AA when it is only 31% to win in a full ring table.

Are there exceptions... Of course.. Most notably when you are at a loose table and the action has been raised preflop most of the time by some loose players. In that case you can let them do your dirty work. While this is risky, it can pay off greatly.

So what do you do if you do call and wait for it to get raised and it does... what is your next move. Many people like to limp raise here. To me, I'm announcing to the world that I have AA or KK here. So if you are just going to call... don't re-raise as it will announce your hand. Now re-raising on the Turn is another question and you definitely should be more aggressive on the later streets.

The other exception is if this is a short handed table or less than full. This is exception I pretty much never follow.. If it shorthanded... it is expected that people will be raising with a much wider range of hands so that is what I do... Raise!!!!

As for me and my Poker Tracker Stats.. I have had Aces 356 times of about 72K hands that I have recorded with Poker Tracker. My winning percentage is 83.71% and of course it by far my most winningest hand... Even with 10 players, my winning percentage is 81% of the time. I've only had AA UTG with a full table (10 players) 6 times and I raised each time and won all of them. It was still my biggest winner of all my UTG hands with 10 players so you will still get action. (btw, those were all 5/10 games)

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that in my humble opinion, it is not worth the gamble. Have I had AA UTG and raised and only taken down the blinds.. Of course, and it stinks.. but I am willing to live with that.

In conclusion, take a look at the feel of the table and how many people there are playing and how they play when determining how to play AA UTG.

What about some of the other situations.. Let's look at tournament play. Again, there are a lot of factors that come into play. For tournament play, Here is what I would look for (assuming N0-Limit)

Is the Table Loose or Tight
What stage of tourney (meaning what are the blinds)
How many players at table
and What are the stack sizes of those remaining players (compared to you and compared to the blinds).

The great thing about poker is that there is rarely a correct answer as practically every situation can be played differently based on your playing style ane maybe more importantly your perceived playing style from the players at your table. So when is slow playing Aces Ok in Tourney play... First, you probably need a loose table. In this case, you are definitely wanted people to raise so that you can reraise... Who cares if you are announcing what you have... He may or may not already be committed to playing. It is still OK to continue to slow play if you get some more people playing along; but of course, the more players, the more likely that you can get beat.

I really only start to get tricky with AA UTG when the table starts to get short. The biggest factor I will take in is the personalities of the other players. I'm more than happy to let them dictate play if that is what they have been doing.

It seems that nothing can get your blood pumping more than getting your Aces cracked. So why risk it? Going back to ring play / limit. If you can get the personality of an aggressive player, then you can get paid when you get the premium hands... Just be prepared that if you have this aggressive style, that you are going to get sucked out on as well because they will call you due to putting you on a wider range of hands. So if you are able to handle those swings, you should be good to go.

Of course, this was all just my humble opinion. What are other peoples thoughts on slow playing Aces Under the Gun in a full ring game... whether it be limit or no-limit.


Anonymous said...

I want to limp-reraise with my aces UTG, but it is hard to get a read on whether it will work. Maybe at an aggressive table, I'd take that risk, but too often if UTG limps, then the fish follow suit. So, raise and hope.

cc said...

I think in cash games, most of the times aces get cracked they've allowed too many hands to see a flop, which gets you back to Will's win % with number of players. Tourneys are a trickier discussion, and I think play can be diversified more, especially in the middle of the tourney when chip accumulation is of prime importance. There's nothing better than letting someone catch top pair then sending them to the rail in a tourney.

Michael said...

Good post, Will.

I agree that there is no correct answer. It's all about who is sitting at your table.

From a limit standpoint, for the most part you have to raise PF with AA from UTG. If I am in a game that is so tight that I am very likely only going to pick up the blinds, then I'll consider limping in. Then I'll look for a better game (LOL).

I'll also consider limping in with AA on occasion for metagame considerations when I am playing against thinking opponents that I face a lot if I am playing a lot at a given site. It gives good cover for limping in with other hands. You just have to balance your strategy and raise with it and other hands from UTG, too.

Anonymous said...

Definitely enjoying your stuff!

With pocket aces I will always raise, regardless of position.

I have been burned too many times trying to be tricky, and would much prefer to win a little pot (or even the blinds) rather than kick myself afterwards. I say this even though the last 2 times I had AA UTG and raised I only won the blinds and was certainly a little disappointed.

BTW, I just came across this guy who is claiming responsibility for the current levels of interest in poker. . . a funny read

FishyMcDonk said...

In tournaments (I don't play ring games) it depends of course, but with a full or nearly table I hate the limp. And I hate the min raise too. It's a tell online. I prefer to raise it like any strong hand. So what if you just take the blinds, when you do get a caller or raiser then you get more chips in the long run vs letting a bunch of guys limp in or call your min raise and suckout later.

fairnbalncd said...

The pithy response? Raise.

The bloviating response? Nothing make me laugh harder and wet myself than the moron who limp-reraises UTG and telegraphs his hand to even the most don't have a clue player at the table.

Which of course everyone will call for "one more bet". Which by the way builds such a big pot, anyone with a slight draw has to come along now or their extremely st00pid.

Now the pot is so friggin' huge, everyone knows what UTG holds and UTG is now in a race to the river to see if his pocket pair - which by the way is only superior to an Ace high hand - holds up.

Inevitably of course he gets cracked by at least one of the draws.

This'll inevitably lead to the "fish you suck" comments and how his "aces never hold up".

Then normally he vacate his seat right away - after that horrific beat - like it was our fault his Aces were cracked because I was getting 14:1 in late position to slide on off on the flop - and HIT!

nh, Mr. Fancy Play Syndrome. Thank you for allowing me into the hand.


TripJax said...

vn post will

pokerpeaker said...

People bitch all the time about never winning with AA. I rarely lose with AA. That's because I NEVER slow play them.

Anonymous said...

this is really quite terrible advice.

that said, i'm glad other people approve ^^

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