3

Lets say you are sitting on Aces and want to play. How good is it to call instead of to raise as to get more money into the pot? Could this be called a double bluff?

  • Either a poorly worded question or just a poor question. A big pot you don't win is not good for you. The proper question is how to get maximum value from aces. When might you under represent to maximize EV? – paparazzo May 4 '16 at 16:03
5

TLDR: You can do this...once in a while...but it shouldn't be your standard play.

Rather than "double bluff", I would usually refer to this as "disguising your hand".

Obviously the goal in any hand is to maximize the amount you expect to win (or minimize losses), so let's look at what impact just calling with pocket aces might have. You say that the point of just calling is to get more money into the pot but that's also one of the reasons we raise with good hands--to get more money into the pot!

By just calling, you're essentially inviting more players into the hand, so yes there is the potential for more money but each additional player also reduces your chances of actually winning the hand. With enough opponents in the hand, you'd actually be an underdog to winning, and people that lose in that spot tend to lose a lot because they are fixated with the strength of their pocket aces and refuse to believe they're beat.

Let's say that you just call and are up against 5 or 6 people--if your opponents are halfway decent players, none of them are going to be putting a lot of chips into the middle after the flop without pretty strong hands since they're aware they need a stronger hand against 5 or 6 people. If there were only one person playing against you, however, they might be willing to put in much more with just a single pair you since they know they only need to beat one person. So really the impact of just calling with aces could get some larger pots going overall, but not necessarily to your benefit.

There are times, though, where it can be a good strategy to just call. These situations mostly involve "randomizing" your range against people you play against often or plan on playing against for awhile. You could also refer to this as "mixing it up" to keep the other players on their toes. For example, if you always raise with pocket aces, but you sometimes just call with other hands, then an observant player will know that when you've just called that you for sure do not have pocket aces. If however, they see just one time that you only called with aces, they will be kept a little off guard and have to give more respect when you simply call in a future hand. You don't have to do this often for it to have an effect--just once in a while, kind of randomly.

An another instance where just calling can be good would be when you're one of the first to act and the table is consistently aggressive. For example, if the first person raises and you are next to act, a re-raise by you looks super-strong and will scare off most people. If you just call, though, and have a reasonable expectation that somebody else might re-raise, you can trap a lot of money in the pot before unexpectedly re-raising the pot yourself--your hand has been disguised. Or similarly, if you are the first to act, you could just limp and then when somebody behind you raises and more money is trapped in the pot, you can raise to narrow the field with a good-sized pot already going. Again, these are tactics that should only be used sparingly, as a variation on straight-forward play. Getting "fancy" regularly often backfires. Most of the money won in poker comes through simple, straight-forward play.

2

As I stated in a comment a big pot is not the proper objective. A big pot you lose is not not good for you. The proper objective is to maximize EV (Expected Value).

AA is the best head up hand
Lets say bb is $2 and you can get QQ to go all in for $80 you are 80%
EV = -80 + .8*(163) = $50.4
Let's say you limp to get three plus you in the pot - problem is now even against 3 decent hands you are 50%
You need to get $50 each from 3 to have a better EV
EV = -50 + .5*(203) = $51.5
You would need to get all three hands to invest $48 post flop to have a better EV
Not going happen - three hands are not going to invest $48 more dollars each unless they hit
If they hit then you go to (way) less than 50%
It is easier to get $80 out of one player than $50 each out of three players
Aces chance of winning goes down faster with more players than the chance of growing a big enough pot because of more players

You should always want to play aces.

A call would be slow playing aces and it is not a standard play.

You want a big pot but you also want to isolate. Aces is different than lower pairs as it is likely to hold up even if it does not improve against a single opponent. If aces don't improve against multiple players then you are likely to lose. A pair of fives is looking to catch a set so it does not want to isolate. Release fives if you don't hit a set on the flop.

If you typically raise with pretty wide range then you don't need to disguise aces.

Assume you only raise with a very narrow range then you might just call to disguise the hand and or build the pot. A few situations you might just call:

  • In late position with only one player in the pot and they came in for a raise then every once in a while call to disguise the hand. You have already isolated as only one player in the pot and the initial raise is likely to push the binds off the pot. If the blinds call then so be it (you have aces and position). A re-raise may push the initial raise off the pot so keep them in the pot and look to get more money in the pot later. If they hit top pair then you have an over pair and can get more money in the pot. Yes you risk getting beat but still an overpair to single opponent is good odds - not so good with multiple opponents.
  • You are in early position and you think you can get a raise behind you. When it comes back to you then push. You have built a pot and got your money in good (with the best hand). If everyone folds to the re-raise that is still a good thing.

Lets say you just call from middle position to disguise / build pot and get 4 players in the pot. And the flop is QJ8 with a two flush. That board would hit so many hands that you are in trouble. Yes you can build a pot but not a pot you want to build. Let's say the board comes up dry then you are not likely to get more action unless they hit with 2 pair or better and again you are in trouble. Raise pre flop to isolate so you don't put yourself in this position. Yes if you hit a set of aces you can slow play and maybe take down a big pot but you are 8:1 to hit a set on the flop. You can do the same thing hitting a set holding eights (and it is easier to build a big pot). There are very few situations a set is beat by a bigger set.

It is safer to get tricky (call) with AK suited. Yes you want to isolate as it is great heads up hands. But it plays better against multiple opponent as you can hit a nut flush or nut straight. If an ace or king comes on the flop you have disguised your hand so they are not as likely to put you on a pair.

A big problem with slow playing aces is you may have a player ready to get it all in pre flop. KK or AK (maybe even QQ) are likely to put it all in pre flop and you have them all dominated. You have built a pot and isolated - that is the best possible situation. Don't risk having it folded or called around to them and force them into making a proper play.

Another problem with disguising AA is now you are playing it like you might play AQ AJ or AT so if an ace hits they are still going to slow down. It really only has value as a disguised over pair and they pair the board or have an over pair. And then you have a lot of ways to lose the hand. It just does not play out good for you enough for the stuff you give up.

In summary there are lots of better situations to get tricky than aces. Lets say you have a tight raise range. Rather than hide a raise hand by playing it like a call hand every once in a while raise with a call hand. If JT suited is a call hand then raise every once in while so they cannot (as easily) range you. Yes you have put more money in the pot but if your JT suited hits then that is a good thing.

1

You are describing a strategy called "Slowplaying" or "Sandbagging." It is a common play, and should be in any poker players arsenal, and works best against highly aggressive players who bet regularly with weak holdings. It is a mistake to slowplay strong holdings against passive players, who'd have simply called your raises had you made them.

0

This is very player specific but at the lowest stakes it is generally better to just raise with a strong hand because most players are not thinking beyond level #1 (i.e., what is my own hand). At higher stakes where the opposition is more savvy you will need to mix up your play more.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.