Tips For Playing Weak Aces in Hold’em

Do not fall into the trap of overvaluing weak aces

Anyone who has ever played No-Limit Hold’em knows players love an ace in their hand. Holding an ace makes some players think they are invincible, and they go all the way with their holdings. However, not all aces are created equal. Powerhouse aces, including ace-king and ace0queen, are far superior to weak aces. We mean Ax-2x to Ax-9x, something called ace-rag.

Suited weak aces are more attractive than their non-suited counterparts. You should not get overly excited about hands such as Ac-5c or Ad-3d, even if they do look pretty. Many poker players have lost their stacks overvaluing weak aces. Do not become another statistic.

Not knowing the poker odds and probabilities is the downfall for someone playing weak aces. For example, flopping two pair is a great proposition but happens rarely; its odds are 49-to-1. Likewise, you are only 8-to-1 to flop a flush draw with suited cards and a staggering 118-to-1 to flop a flush. It is extremely difficult to get paid off even if you manage to flop a flush.

What tends to happen is this. You either flop top pair with a bad kicker, a low-to-medium pair with an ace kicker, or a draw. None of those scenarios are ideal. What is your plan if you raise with As-4s and the board comes down Ac-Qd-8h?

Playing Weak Aces Before the Flop

You should fold the majority of weak aces before the flop, especially from early position. Your hand is weak, so it needs strengthening, and you can do that by utilizing the power of position.

Folding is your default play when facing a preflop raise, and you have any weak aces in your hand. It is just not worth the hassle of calling and hoping for the best. Calling a preflop raise with Ad-4c and the board comes down As-4d-Kh may seem perfect, but your opponent could easily have aces, kings, or ace king here. Your seemingly awesome two pair could be a costly second-best hand.

Feel free to toss in some calling chips if you have the implied odds to do so with suited weak aces. Furthermore, a three-bet from the blinds with suited weak aces, especially against a habitual blind stealer, is not a bad play if you do not overdo it.

What About After the Flop?

We mentioned previously that weak aces get players into trouble. This is because they often flop weak hands that cannot stand up to aggression.

Let us saw we raise from late position with Ad-5d and the big blind calls. The flop falls Ac-Qh-8d, gifting us top pair. What is your plan? Making a continuation bet is probably the default play, but you cannot be happy if you are called. What if the big blind leads out or, worse still, check-raises us?

Most of the time, you are attempting pot control and trying to get to showdown as cheaply as possible. That is not a good way to play poker; it certainly is not the route to big profits.

It is equally as likely you will not pair your ace at all and be left with a small-to-medium pair with an ace-kicker. Making top pair with cards nine or lower is very rare indeed. Imagine raising with As-7s, and the flop falls Qc-Jc-7d. It does not take a poker genius to figure out this is a horrible spot.

Conclusion

Weak aces are called such because they are poor hands. Players new to the game who are competing at a full table should toss them into the muck at the first opportunity. These hands become more attractive in six-max or heads-up games where there are fewer opponents to worry about. They are still vulnerable but become more playable.

One spot where playing weak aces, particularly suited versions, is a good spot is when you are short-stacked in a tournament. Open-shoving when down to five to eight big blinds will see you be a slight favorite against any other unpaired hand not containing an ace. In addition, you still have some equity against stronger hands. Non-suited ace-five has round 28-30% equity against pocket kings, for example.

Do not get married to these temping hands. Leave them to the expert or until you have no other choice but to gamble with them.

Matthew Pitt

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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