Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Become Results-Oriented with Pocket Aces

Recently I got stacked with Pocket Aces. Who hasn't? It is something that everyone who plays this game will experience at one point or another; losing your buy-in or tournament life with AA. While it is the key to the game to get all of your money in before the flop with AA, it always seems to hurt more when you lose with AA than the good feeling that you get when you win with them.

How do we feel when we lose with Aces?

[ ] Cheated
[ ] Discouraged
[ ] Tilted
[ x ] All of the above

Some people become so disgusted from that one hand when they bust with Aces that they are permanently scared from the experience. Others feel that it happens to them so frequently that they give up playing the hand like it's the nuts and choose to take lines to survive with the hand rather than maximize with it. This is a huge leak and generally a sign of weak or passive play. If you can't make money with the best hand in the game, how do you expect to win with more speculative hands?

As I review my hand histories for $25 NL in PokerTracker, I noticed that my win rate with Pocket Aces is about 89% based on 20,000 hands. Now clearly this is a small sample size, but from what I've read, Pocket Aces stand to win around 86-88% of the time. Thus statistically speaking, I'm running better than average with my rockets so I have nothing to complain about.

Now that we have established the fact that Pocket Aces should be played fearlessly [but not wrecklessly] we need to recognize that about 12% of the time we will fall victim to misfortune and lose with them. And on average our losses will be much greater with AA than almost every other hand we play. This is because it is far more difficult to release AA on the flop of most boards than it is to release a hand like pocket 3s, where most of the time the board will not connect with our hand.

As I review each of my losses with AA, I'm generally concerned with the betting lines to determine where I went wrong.

-Was I 3 or 4-bet post-flop during the hand?
-Did I re-raise a player on a paired board?
-Did I slow-play them?

These are the types of questions I ask myself, because after all, if someone is going to take my buy-in I may as well learn how to prevent or minimize the impact during like scenarios in the future.

The inspiration for this article came from the following hand, which provides a situation where it is incredibly difficult for me to fold my AA. In fact after the hand history, I'll provide comments from a few friends that I asked for feedback.

The Official Hand History Converter

MP2: $8.76
CO: $4.87
BTN: $28.87
SB: $35.22
BB: $4.30
UTG: $77.19
Hero (UTG+1): $25.03
MP1: $15.49

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is UTG+1 with Ad Ac
1 fold, Hero raises to $0.75, 4 folds, SB calls $0.65, 1 fold

Flop: ($1.75) 3c 2s 8d
SB bets $1.25, Hero raises to $3, SB calls $1.75

Turn: ($7.75) 4c
SB checks, Hero bets $5.75, SB calls $5.75

River: ($19.25) 4d
SB bets $18, Hero calls $15.53 all in

Final Pot: $50.31
SB shows 2c 2h (a full house, Twos full of Fours)

Hero mucks Ad Ac
SB wins $47.80
(Rake: $2.51)

Me: Do you go broke here?

Friend 1: All day everyday. 100% of the time I am getting it in there. There are so many hands that you beat that are plausible with the range that he is taking a flop there with. Only three hands beat you and there is really no worry of any drawing hands on the flop. Be glad to get it in on that board everytime.

Friend 2: Tough Hand. You got coolered. I think you have to slow down on the turn but you do have the Ac which tells you he is not on a draw like Ac8c or AcXc.

Me: I agree with Friend 1 and believed there were a lot of hands that I could beat including any pair above 88, A8 and the random person that will stack off with a missed AK or busted flush draw.

Friend 2: I think he played the hand well. If he re-raises you on the flop you're not getting it all in with him because most of the time you are going to see a set there.

Me: I was surprised to see the lowest boat possible at showdown. I would have expected him to re-raise the flop or check-raise all-in on the turn, given the amount of strength I've shown. But as Friend 2 indicated, it was his non-traditional line that got my call on the river.

So while your AA's will get cracked and sometimes in very difficult siutations such as this one, you cannot let that deter you from the other 85%+ times when they will win for you.

1 comment:

  1. I want to also point out that the 44 on the end only helps you in this spot. Not knowing anything about this player, his 32 two pair or random two pairs are discounted by the running paired board, which further pushes me into the call the shove camp.


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