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Maximizing Your Profit With AA in Short-Handed No-Limit Cash Games

This article is designed for cash-game players. If you are a tournament player, you can find my tournament strategy here.

As the saying goes, you either win a small pot or lose a big pot with pocket aces. I agree with this to an extent, but believe the outcome of how you play your aces is more determined by your skill and hand reading ability. If you are able to read opponents well, you can get away from your aces when you know you are beat, and extract maximum value when you know you have your opponent crushed.

I have recently been experimenting with flat calling with aces when faced with a 3-bet or a 4-bet pre-flop. In your standard online six-max cash game, the action tends to be very aggressive with a lot of 3-betting and 4-betting before the flop. I always almost open when first in the pot with aces, and will almost always 3-bet when faced with a raise from an opponent acting before me. The decision arises when you are sitting with AA and faced with a 3-bet from your original opening raise, or 4-bet when you put out the 3-bet.

Against most competent opponents, when you 4-bet pre-flop with your aces they tend to fold any hand other than KK,QQ,AK and sometimes JJ. Assuming full stack-sizes ( effective 100 big blinds), not many opponents will stack off without these hands pre-flop. A 4-bet pre-flop screams massive strength a majority of the time unless you have a great read on your opponent, and are re-re-stealing assuming they are 3-betting your open raise light without a premium hand.

For this reason, I like to mix it up and sometimes just flat call a 3 or 4 bet with my AA in position. I do this for a few different reasons. The first is to conceal my hand strength. The standard play for AA is to keep raising and it isn’t the wrong way to play aces but against good opponents you are playing your hand face-up. You want to re-raise your AA when there is more than one player in the pot to drive out weaker hands that have potential to bust you if they hit a flop hard. The more hands that see the flop, the less of a chance that your AA will hold up.

I also like to just call to have my opponent keep betting his inferior hand when the flop hits. Most of the time, if an opponent is bluffing, they will fire another bet on the flop to try to take down the pot. If it is a safe flop, I might just flat call again and try to get all the money in on the turn. If it is a draw-heavy flop that might have hit my opponents hand range, I want to raise the flop to defend my hand.

If your opponent has and over-pair to the flop, it is very hard for them to get away from the hand. On a flop like 7-3-2 rainbow (all different suits), weaker opponents have trouble folding over-pairs. For this reason, I can extract extra value from hands like 9-9 and 10-10 that might have folded pre-flop to my 4-bet. Worst case scenario, I will pick up my opponents continuation bet with a raise in position.

Position is always key, I get to act after my opponent giving me a better sense of his relative hand strength. There will be times when an opponent will hit the flop hard and I need to trust my reads when this happens and fold if I feel I am beat. Every situation is always player dependent. Every decision depends on stack sizes and player tendencies. Programs like PokerTracker allow me to see different statistics on each opponent I face. These stats ultimately will effect my final decision and I would have a lot of trouble without stat based reads.

Looking down at AA is always a nice feeling. You have the best hand pre-flop and it can be nice to get all the money in before the flop even hits. Against tricky and skilled opponents, I have to mix it up to extract more value and not give off any tendencies. I don’t like playing each hand a certain way and my decisions are always based on a variety of factors, most importantly the opponent or opponents I am in the pot with. Six-max cash games are notoriously aggressive, and I like to keep up with the aggression as much as possible. Flat calling aces is simply another move in my arsenal to keep opponents guessing.

The more my opponents are guessing, the more mistakes they will make. The more mistakes they make equal more profit in return for me. It is important to realize when you are beat with aces, and I see too many people going broke in situations that call for a fold. Discipline is an essential skill for any aspiring poker player and I think it might be one of the most important if not the most important. Not losing money is the same as winning money. Making good folds will positively affect your win-rate. Make less mistakes than your opponents, and you will ultimately come out on top.

More Poker Strategy:

The Poker Trance

Developing a LAG (Loose-Aggressive) Strategy for Maximum Profit

My Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Booking the Win at Final Tables

Top 10 Reasons You Should Play Poker

Top 5 Reasons You Lose at Poker

How to Overbet For Massive Value

Additional Strategy, Sports Betting:

The Three Tenets of Profitable Sports Betting

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10 Responses to Maximizing Your Profit With AA in Short-Handed No-Limit Cash Games

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