How hard can it be to play the second-best starting hand in Texas Hold’em poker? Well, there are some situations where the Kings can be a tricky hand. In this guide, we’ll help you understand what to do when an Ace appears on the flop, for instance. We’ll also take a look at some other common scenarios to help you maximise your winnings when holding Cowboys.

A player looks down at the King of Clubs and the King of Hearts. In the background is a large stack of poker chips.
Pocket Kings is obviously a very strong hand, but less so with an Ace on the flop.

Playing Pocket Kings – The Basics

Let’s start at the beginning. K-K is obviously a massively strong hand, with only A-A ranking higher. So it should really go without saying that you must be looking to raise preflop with this particular holding. Regardless of your starting position, if there’s no raise in front of you, you should be the one cranking up the heat. Long-term, limping is still profitable, but you’ll win less money overall than by raising.

Up Against A Raise

If the pot has already been raised, you should re-raise in almost every single situation when holding pocket Kings. Definitely 3-bet 100% of the time. A good raise is around three times the size of the original raise. For instance, let’s say you’re playing $2/$4 and the villain makes it $12 to go. An optimal raise here would be something in the region of $36 to $42.

When facing a 3-bet, you’re still going to want to raise with Kings. If you’re playing with super deep stacks against the tightest player in the world, you can make a case for folding. But 99% of the time, you’re looking to 4-bet. The raise size should be smaller than if you were 3-betting. Keep it to something like 2.5x if you’re in position and less if out of position.

It’s only really when holding A-A and K-K that you can feel absolutely delighted to come up against a 4-bet. Therefore, you can probably guess what you need to do in this spot. That’s right – re-raise all-in. Is there a case for calling and playing it a little more slowly? Not really. What do you do if there’s an Ace on the flop? It’s not really worth it, get the money to the middle and put your opponent to the test.

When Your Kings Are An Overpair

Although we all fear the Ace in this situation, more often than not your K-K will be an overpair to the board. And that’s a great spot to be in, so we need to maximise it with some aggressive betting. There’s no reason to be sneaky here. Get some chips in and look to grow the pot.

However, as always, poker is a complex game and there are exceptions to general rules. You could justify slowing down if the flop is composed of low-value connecting cards. Something like 7-6-4 fits nicely with the range of the opponent who called preflop. It should be full of suited connectors and mid to low-value pocket pairs. So, make sure to be wary of straights and sets on these occasions.

The best advice is to keep such pots small. A check-call approach is not a bad play here.

When An Ace Flops

We all know that horrible feeling. Your ecstasy turns to agony after seeing plenty of preflop action with pocket Kings, only for the dreaded Ace to hit the flop. What do you do now?

If you 3-bet or 4-bet before the flop and found a call, as irritating as it is, you need to make that continuation bet. Keep the aggression levels high. Remember your range as a whole, rather than your specific hand. An Ace high flop is great for your perceived range, based on the story you told before the flop.

Bet small though, since you want the weaker hands to stick around. This is actually a value bet, rather than a bluff.

If your opponent starts to come after you, you need to come to terms with the idea of giving up. Yes, it sucks. It’s completely awful. However, a pair of pocket Kings just no longer offers much in terms of expected value (EV) in this situation.

Lots of action before the flop, lots of resistance after an Ace high flop. Think about the story your opponent is telling you. It would be suicide for them to be bluffing so aggressively in this situation. They are more than likely to have the goods.

Conclusion

Ultimately, a pair of Kings is a monster hand. More often than not, the hand pretty well plays itself.

Here are the two key takeaways from this article: One, play them aggressively. Slowplaying is not unprofitable, but you’ll be failing to maximise your profits with a big hand that doesn’t come along too often. Secondly, don’t fall in love with K-K when facing lots of aggressive resistance. Letting go of such a huge hand is undoubtedly the toughest part of playing Cowboys. Keep your discipline.

Now that you know the way to play with pocket Kings, why not sign up for a free account with Natural8 and practice using the freerolls and low-stake tournaments?