This should be a happy thing when you get pocket aces, but lately I feel bad just looking at the hole cards A♢ A♥, for example.

According to what I read and everyone's advice I should bet strong with these cards. I understand the concepts: - by making your opponents fold, you increase the odds of winning of the premium cards. The problem is that, when I raise, for example, 3 times the previous call/raise, the next opponent rarely fold, contrary to that, he used to re-raise. Just one or two fold sometimes. Once everyone continues betting, I end up being forced, sooner or later, to go all-in before the flop. Almost every time I lose and get wiped out against someone who made a straight with, for instance, 4♥,6♢.

It's important to say that I don't play real cash games for the time being, just virtual money and tournaments. Maybe in cash games the history would be different? Also important is the fact that, when there are just three or four opponents against my pocket aces, I usually win.

But the only strategy that work with me in a 9-handed is to wait for at least a three of a kind on the flop (this takes time, sometimes more than 3 hours of game), but in this case every hole cards to me would be the same value, be it A♠,A♥ or 2♣,4♠.

Thus, is the correct thing to be done in a 9-handed with so much aggressiveness, even when you had pocket Aces or Kings, to fold or to test your luck anyway?

Sorry, I'm newbie and just want to learn more.

  • No need to apologize :) Simply put, your emotions are ruling your thoughts and play little part in a strong players game. Having the best hand, and getting all your chips in is best... always. The real consideration here is bankroll management. Keep that in mind, but first, work on the fundamentals, i.e. Odds, Hand Reading, Positional Strategy
    – Toby Booth
    Jul 4, 2013 at 18:58

5 Answers 5


First of all if you can get someone to commit all of their chips pre flop when you hold Aces then you are doing well. You should be fist pumping at this stage as you are the favourite. If they suck out post flop then thats just varience you did the hard part getting all of your chips in pre which is +EV.

You should always play the hand aggressively, but try not to get too attached when the board looks like it can hit a lot of draws.

The best thing to do is try and put your opponents on a hand. If you raise pre and they re-raise, shove back over the top. If you raise and they call. Try and work out what sort of hand they can be calling you with based on your raise size. If you have them on something like AK and the flop looks nasty then re-evaluate your aggression. Make them pay a lot to see the next card if you think they are playing for a draw. If the flop is something like 10 J Q then still bet, but be careful.

In general play it aggressively preflop and on the flop. But if you think a hand may have caught you up, do not be afraid to let go of your Aces.


The short answer is that this is just the nature of things when playing for play money. When you get pocket aces, you often can (and should) get all of your chips in pre-flop because most play money players simply don't care. If someone before you raises, you can usually just shove all in and get multiple callers. Long term, you will still make (a lot) more money than you lose in this situation, but as with anything else in poker, sometimes you will go on a long streak where you just get unlucky and lose lose lose. Just know that you did the right thing, and in the long run you will win more than you lose.

That being said, real money play (even just for pennies) will play a lot differently than play money, so I wouldn't practice too much at the play money tables, lest you pickup some very very bad habits. Playing it long enough to learn the rules of the game is great, but that's about it.

  • To be clear, in NLHE, you should ALWAYS get all of your chips in pre-flop if it's possible. I'd agree with your suggestion that the OP switches to playing even at the lowest stakes possible, than spending time on play money tables.
    – Toby Booth
    Jul 4, 2013 at 18:51
  • @TobyBooth: Yes, that is what I was said in this answer (it is why I said that you should get all of your chips in pre-flop with Aces)! :-)
    – lnafziger
    Jul 4, 2013 at 22:43

Gaz makes a lot of good points. The goal with aces is to get all the money in preflop, but you should absolutely slow down and reevaluate postflop. Board texture, opponent types and tendencies, reads, stack sizes, etc. all come into play after the flop comes out and your opponent is betting and/or not folding to your bets. Don't get married to aces postflop; they're just a pair (albeit a very strong pair).

One thing that is important to note, that many, many so-called poker experts get wrong is the idea of wanting to get heads-up with aces when all the money goes in. Alan Schoonmaker was the first author I know of to correct this mistaken thinking.

Here are a couple of sources of material worth reading, imho:


and: http://pokerbug.blogspot.com/2009/04/everyone-is-wrong.html

  • "... but you should absolutely slow down and reevaluate postflop" ... I would add "if you make it to that point." In this case, he stated that he is "being forced" to go all-in preflop and is questioning whether or not that is a good strategy in a play money game because he is constantly getting sucked out.
    – lnafziger
    Jul 4, 2013 at 16:23

For me, the best way to play Aces is to sometimes limp-in and other times raising preflop.

In the games I play, if I raise 15 to 20 it doesn't surprise me to to get 3 to 5 callers. The problem I run into, is let's say I get 3 callers of 20 dollars, now there 80 in the pot and, even with a good flop for Aces, it's so hard to know where my opponents are at. If I have 200 behind, I don't want to gift some one 200 dollars if they sucked out relatively cheap for 20 dollars with good pot odds.

Now I try to limp in and open raise Aces half of the time. If I do raise Aces preflop, I normally prefer to play small pots post flop. When I limp Aces, obviously we are hoping for some one to raise. When this happens my goal is to isolate one player and get him to commit his stack preflop or at very least commit 30% to 40% of my remaining stack, then get the rest in post flop.

Now if I limp-in with Aces and no one raises, there's no shame in folding Aces here, especially when people are showing aggression and all you lost is 2 dollars instead of your entire stack. I also know that good players will catch on to the limp raise and know that I have Aces, but there's so many bad players that are clueless at 1-2 live cash who will stack off with good hands like Jacks, Queens, AK, AQ, AJ, TT, 99, 88.

  • Agree that limping to re-raise is good occasionally, but keep in mind that this is still a tactic towards the goal of committing chips pre-flop, which OP for some reason doesn't want to do (probably being irrational).
    – Yang
    Jun 5, 2015 at 15:58

"Statistics" show that you will win "only" about 30% of the time with pocket aces in a nine- or ten- handed game. Even so, that is THREE times your statistical 10% with random cards.

With a (theoretical) 3 to 1 advantage, you'll want to raise the bets high. A second possible outcome by betting is that you drive out other players, thereby increasing your chances above 30%.

In the long run, you will be a big winner with AA as long as you don't have one hand where the bets are 10 times higher than the others (and you lose). But it may not seem that way after losing five or six times in a row with AA, even with the odds basically in your favor.

It's true that you may need three of a kind to win with a full table, but with a pocket pair, you have a "head start," because you need only one card to get it, whereas someone with XY will need two cards.

Many players like to play ANY pair for its "set" value (the 11% of the time it makes three of a kind). With 22, there is the danger of making a set of 2's and being beaten with a higher set. With AA, there is no higher set. Only a straight, flush, full house (or higher) can beat you if you make your set.

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