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How do you play aces: Part One

How are you playing aces in this tournament?

There are few things in poker that make a poker player happier than looking down at a pair of cards that have the letter “A” on them.  Pocket Aces aren’t going to be folded by anyone pre-flop.  It just doesn’t make sense.  But how you play them before the flop can determine how a hand gets played after the flop, the turn, and on the river.

I want to take a look at a hand that I played at the Los Angeles Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino yesterday where I was dealt pocket aces, and get some feedback on the way that I played them.  I’m going to present two different scenarios in two different post for the same hand, and let everyone weigh in on the best way to approach the play.  Poker is a game that has a bunch of different opinions, and I’ll explain what my line of thinking was, and why I made the plays that I made, as well as the results which are far less important.  It should be how you play the hand that matters, not the end result.

I’ll set up the scenario by letting you know that I was playing in my very first ever LAPC event.  It was event #23, a $340 Buy in No Limit Hold’em Tournament with a $100,000 guarantee.  I didn’t recognize any player at my table, but by the end of the first level, I’d had a pretty good read on all of my opponents.  There were a few big pots that were played, but nothing that was really out of hand.  And it would be the very last hand of the first level that we’ll be dealing with.

The event begins with a 6,000 chip starting stack, and at the end of the first level, I’d been very active and very successful, chipping up to almost 9,000 in chips by not showing down a hand.  Basically I was able to do whatever I wanted at the table, and I think my table mates respected my image.

With the blinds at 25/50, the hand begins with the player under the gun opening to 150.  The opening amount was pretty standard at either 150 or 125.  So the open wasn’t out of the ordinary.   Two players made the call, and action then came to me in the cutoff seat where I looked at the Ace of clubs, and the Ace of diamonds.

My question to you….

With about 180 big blinds in my stack and holding AA versus an open and 2 callers, are you raising your bullets, or are you just going to flat call here?

Other things to consider are that the blind levels will be 30 minutes for the duration of the tournament, so action will move pretty quick.  But this IS just level one after all.

Lets see if you raise or call, and if you raise….how much are you raising to?

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  1. Carse
    February 14th, 2012 at 02:13 | #1

    I pop it to 750 and hope to isolate. AA not so good in multiway pot.

  2. Cabbagee
    February 14th, 2012 at 02:21 | #2

    Raise with hope to isolate against someone ready to overplay with JJs or similar. The raise could also look like a steal attempt, but ultimately you only want one caller. If you take the pot pre-flop with no callers, that is a fine result as well. Raise to a total of 750 or 800.

  3. Angel Valdez
    February 14th, 2012 at 02:37 | #3

    Always raise to isolate. And if you smooth call be ready to fold them orr control the pot by keeping it small on an ugly flop

  4. Cabbagee
    February 14th, 2012 at 03:27 | #4

    My suggested raise of 800 had the goal to isolate or even better, hope for a 4-bet by someone overplaying or thinking you are stealing. If you get one caller, your odds are 80/20. If you slow play (boooo) or if you raise small enough getting 4 callers, your odds are reduced to 40/15/15/15/15. Why reduce your chances of winning the hand to <50%. If the price to call is so small that even the blinds come in, your odds are reduced to 30-35%. Your problem becomes more complicated if you allow others to see the flop and suddenly two people begin to raise a build a larger pot and all you have is a single pair. Now what.

    Raise amount was calculated at 3-4x plus the amount contributed by the two others before you (150x~3.5 + 150+150) which resulted in raise of range around 750-900. A raise of 800 brings the pot to 1325. They would have to call 650 to win 1325.

    If you want to adjust the raise size, make it larger over smaller, but I think 800 is a good raise size.

    Heck, now I feel silly that I see Street3 also said 750. If Mr. Spewalot Carse says 750, then I say 1200. But seriously 800 give them just over 2.1-1 odds.

  5. Jack
    February 14th, 2012 at 22:15 | #5

    Is it your first 3bet of the tournament? Have you been raising alot? Are people giving you credit?

    I think IP you can make it 625-750. It doesn’t need to be that large imo and it gives people room to play back if they think you are out of line. Obviously there’s nothing that wrong with a larger 3bet either, but I think IP you might as well keep it small because unless you’re also making large 3bets (T$850+ in this spot for instance) with KQs or TJs here it becomes kind of obvious what kind of hand you’re holding. (big pair)

  6. Jack
    February 14th, 2012 at 22:16 | #6

    The big thing is that you are IP imo. That’s what allows for a smaller 3bet than normal. OOP I agree, pump it up.

  7. Paul Ellis
    February 16th, 2012 at 17:09 | #7

    @Jack
    This was my first 3-bet of the tournament. I’ve opened a fair share of pots, and I’ve called a few times as well. It’s still early in the tournament though, so most people have given me credit because I’ve only had one showdown, and I had the goods.

  8. Paul Ellis
    February 16th, 2012 at 17:09 | #8

    For everyone, I agree that a raise was necessary and I went with the amount of 875. Check out part 2 to see why.

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