How To Play Pocket Kings Profitably

Learn how to play pocket kings profitably when playing Texas Hold'em

Pocket kings are a legitimate powerhouse hand in Texas Hold’em cash games and tournaments. Kings are a substantial favourite against any other hand except pocket aces. You still have more than 18% equity even if you run into pocket aces.

It goes without saying that pocket kings will be your second-biggest winning hand in the long run, behind ace. Many poker players struggle with kings, despite their huge strength, because they play them incorrectly.

It’s only natural to want to win as much money as possible when you’re dealt a strong pair. Those struggling with pocket kings want the same end result, but they go the wrong way about it.

Pocket Kings Are At Their Strongest Heads-Up

All strong pairs perform best when they face few opponents, ideally only one. Pocket kings have 82.4% equity against a completely random hand. This drops to 68.8% against two random hands, and 58% against three of them.

Players tend not to play random hands, instead choosing to play actual hands that have a chance of winning the pot. Pocket kings only have 50.8% equity against three opponents playing any pair, suited connectors and Broadways.

Matters grow worse on the flop, of course, depending on what those three community cards are. On a Qh-Jh-8c flop against those three opponents, you have only 38.22% equity.

Always Raise and Re-Raise Preflop With Pocket Kings

Aggression is the best way to get your pocket kings in the favorable position of being against fewer players. You should always come in for a raise preflop when first to act. Likewise, you should always three-bet if there is a raise in front of you.

I’ll say you should be happy getting 100 big blinds into the middle with pocket kings. Don’t fear pocket aces, there isn’t always a monster hiding under the bed.

Players prepared to go all-in preflop for 100 big blinds will show up with ace-king, ace-queen, queens, jacks and tens often enough to make up for the times your opponent flips over a pair of rockets in the hole. We crush those hands (80.55% equity against that range).

Don’t Be Tempted To Slow Play Preflop

It’s tempting to slow play pocket kings preflop, but you shouldn’t do this. Limping in or flat calling a raise makes it more likely other players will stick around. Our equity falls for each additional opponent in the hand.

There are a couple of scenarios where I’d be willing to slow play pocket kings.

One would be against a loose-aggressive opponent who has shown a tendency to raise limpers. Limping in here to induce a raise is a play you can make, but only if your plan is to put in a raise of your own once the inevitable happens.

Another spot to consider slow playing is a blind versus blind scenario. Limping in the small blind or flatting a raise in the big blind isn’t disastrous. Why? Because we’re guaranteed to be heads-up against a probable weak hand.

How To Play Kings After The Flop

How you play pocket kings post-flop depends entirely on the opponents in the hand. Everyone fears when an ace lands on the flop, but it isn’t that big of a deal.

An ace on the flop naturally slows the action down and a check-call line isn’t terrible. Some players use an ace on the board as an opportunity to bluff. Others fear it as much, if not more than you do. You should still be aiming to get to a showdown with pocket kings in your hand.

Not letting go of kings when it’s obvious they’re beaten is a major reason people lose with money with kings.

Wet, coordinated hands are a major threat to your pocket kings. Holding Kc-Kd on a 9s-8h-7h flop against Th-9h sees your equity plummet to 34.44%. You’re actually a 2/3 underdog despite having the best hand right now. A player who plays their draws fast will find a way to get their stack in against you here. They’ll do so as a substantial favorite.

Final Thoughts

Pocket kings are the second strongest starting hand in Hold’em, treat them as such. Be cautious when an ace flops or the board is dangerous, but otherwise be aggressive.

Don’t be tempted to play tricky with kings, you win big pots by getting chips into the pot. Winning a series of small pots with a powerhouse hand can be frustrating, but winning a small pot is better than losing a big one.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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