It’s one of the best feelings in the game of Texas Hold’em, looking down at a pair of bullets. But if you’re new to the game, you may not be aware of the common pitfalls associated with pocket rockets. In this article, we’ll share some key stats concerning the best possible starting hand in Hold’em. We’ll also reveal exactly how to play pocket aces.

A pocket pair of aces lies on the table; the ace of diamonds and the ace of spades
Pocket aces may be the best possible starting hand in Hold’em, but they can be tricky to play

What Are the Chances of Being Dealt Aces?

The odds of your first card being an ace are obviously 4 in 52, or 1 in 13. After being dealt an ace, there are only 3 left in the deck. That means a 3-in-51 chance (1 in 17) of receiving a second. Multiply the two numbers to calculate the probability of both events happening.

We’ll save you the trouble of doing any more maths: the answer is 1 in 221. In other words, you can reasonably expect to be dealt pocket aces around 0.45% of the time.

What to Do When Dealt Pocket Aces

In short, you should always be looking to raise preflop with aces. You need to build as large a pot as possible in order to extract maximum value. Particularly at smaller stakes games, where players tend to be extremely passive, you will need to generate action on their behalf.

If nobody has raised in front of you, put in the initial raise. If faced with a 3-bet, you should be 4-betting. On the rare occasions when you are facing a 4-bet, there could perhaps be some justification for occasionally calling. You could do so in the hope that your opponent will go crazy on the flop. But to be honest, you may as well raise pre-flop. They are not likely to fold anyway, and you don’t want to miss out on them putting more chips into the pot.

Common Mistakes

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes players make when holding pocket rockets.

Slow Playing

As we’ve already mentioned, you should look to raise in order to build as big of a pot as possible. It’s almost always a terrible idea to slowplay bullets.

It is risky for two reasons. First, you may cost yourself money. Secondly, allowing other players into the pot only increases the number of hands you’re up against. This leaves you vulnerable to losing the pot. This leads us to our next point…

Falling in Love

In multi-way pots, there’s a much greater chance you’ll lose. So here’s one of the tips on how to play pocket aces: Don’t get married to your aces. Just because you’re guaranteed to be ahead preflop, that’s not necessarily the case afterward.

With several players involved in the preflop, the pot will be bigger. So if you do find yourself outdrew on the flop, you’re also likely to lose a monster-sized pot. Don’t fall in love with your hand.

Raising Too Big

Although you need to try and build a pot, you must also consider your table image and the range you are representing.

Imagine you’ve been raising around 3x the big blind all night and then suddenly bomb 5x out of nowhere. What sort of message are you sending here? You’re telling everyone what your hand is and giving them a chance to get away.

How Do Aces Fare Against Individual Hands?

Here are some realistic hands you might find yourself up against when going all-in with aces against a single opponent. We’ve listed the rough percentage chance of your aces holding up.

Opponent’s HandChance of Aces Winning
A-K offsuit93%
A-K suited88%
KK, QQ or JJ81%
Q-J suited81%
8-7 suited77%

The exact odds will vary depending on the suits, but these are the worst-case scenarios. As you can see, aces are completely dominant.

Can You Ever Fold Aces Preflop?

Since two aces in the hole are the best possible starting hand, is it ever justified to fold them? Like with most situations at the poker table, this depends. Pre-flop, the answer is “almost never”.

It’s not impossible to imagine a situation in a satellite tournament where the top 10 finishers qualify. Let’s assume there are 11 players left, you are third in chips and there are two exceptionally short stacks. You open with your pocket aces and the chip leader shoves behind you.

It’s justifiable in this spot to avoid being a hero. There are no additional prizes for winning the event, you only need to make the top ten. This incredibly niche situation would justify a fold. But it is just that – a rare situation.

In a regular tournament, you are just never folding aces. Even if you’re up against five different players, the worst you’ll ever be is a slight underdog to the entire table. But against every hand individually, you’re going to be a massive favourite.

It should go without saying that folding aces post-flop is much more plausible. Imagine you are holding two black aces and there are five diamonds in front of you. You’re playing the board. Of course you can fold in this situation.

Now that you know how to play pocket aces, why not sign up for a free account with Natural8 and test out what you have learned today?