Texas Holdem - How to play AK or AQ or AJ profitably and win at it

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Ok,

It seems people like poker. :) Me included! Wow, go figure — it’s only televised almost 24/7, the allure of winning big money for little effort — WHILE having fun and using your brain. It’s fun.

Anyways, actually I decided to write more poker articles because it seems that that is what the public wants :) (copyright 2008 verycoolwriting.com)

Ok, so anyways. Playing AK/AQ/AJ can be very tricky, and sometimes you don’t know if your opponent has a better kicker (if he has AK/AQ/etc). So here’s how you do it correctly (to increase your chances of winning all the time long term).

First of all, decide one of two strategies. Do you want to try and milk the pot (players) — should you hit your ace on the flop? OR — do you just want to quickly steal the blinds and maybe a little bit extra from one player that plays as well? I’ll also list things you should watch for, as well as other notes, at the end. Anyways, here you go:

Strategy One — Slowplaying AK/AQ/AJ/ Milking the pot

This is really quite simple. To slowplay this — simply make a ‘moderate’ sized bet, maybe only double or triple the big blind (assuming no one raised previously — if someone did, you have to be careful and I’ll explain later). Anyways — do this. Assuming it’s a six player table — you’ll probably get at least 2 players limping in (calling). (verycoolwriting.com) If they call — that is great. Chances are they have stuff like KQ, J10, or an ace with a really crappy kicker (I.e., everything from A9 and down). If you hit your ace on the flop, it is a no brainer, make a bet, you’ve probably won the pot. If everyone folds, congratulations, if not — skip to the next section (not this ‘next’ item’ but the item after that of ‘things to watch for). But chances are anyways, either way you’ve probably won the pot, so congratulations.

Strategy Two — Defending AK/AQ/AJ/

Ok, if you don’t like the possibility that you might not hit, then make a ridiculously big raise. (i.e., at least 5-6 times the pot). Most people will be scared off, and you can usually almost always win the pot (blinds and maybe 1-2 limpers). In my experience I’d say at least usually 70-80% of the time. If someone calls — then they are chasing usually with a crappy kicker to their ace, or they have pocket pairs. If someone re-raises you or goes all-in, chances are they have high pockets (JJ for looser players, QQ,KK,AA for tight players) and you have to think whether or not you want to gamble.  Anyways, if you see a flop, you can almost always bet pot size and everyone else will fold. If not — see the next section:

Things to watch for when playing AK/AQ/AJ/etc

1. If you bet on your AK/AQ/AJ and see a flop, don’t hit anything, bet again and someone goes all-in, you should probably fold. Chances are you got some idiot who say called with pocket 2’s, hit a 3rd ‘2′ on the flop giving him a set, and wants to milk you for what you’ve got. If you didn’t at the very least hit an ace, fold.

2. If you bet big pre-flop, and the board pairs up on the flop (i.e., say 998) — and you have AK/AQ, you can almost always bet and win. If someone “tries” to put you all-in, chances are they are full of crap, or have pocket pairs. If you think they are full of crap (it’s happened many times), call them. If you think it is a tight player, maybe fold, depending on what you think — i.e., are they on tilt, or calm, cool, and collected? Many tight players will almost always call big raises on pocket pairs, on the ‘off-chance’ that they might make a set on the flop and see big returns.

3. If you bet big pre-flop, and hit your ace on the flop, and you bet, and someone puts you all-in, evaluate your opponent. If they are a good player, chances are they have ace-something (or KK and don’t want to believe you have an ace), so take a look at your kicker. If you have a good kicker (i.e., Q/K), then call. If they are a crap player, and they put you all-in, chances are they hit a crap two pair (i.e., J2), so fold.

Conclusions:

Bottom-line — get a feel for your opponent. Your ‘feeling’ should influence part of your play, if it doesn’t “feel” right, fold.

But other than ‘feelings’, my experience has taught me this is usually the best way to play AK/AQ/AJ. Always bet big preflop (3-4 times the last bet). If someone calls, bet big on the flop again. If someone re-raises you and you hit an ace on the flop with two other low cards, call any all-ins they make (they probably had KK,QQ,JJ, etc, and don’t want to lay down their cards). (Almost always AA will be an all-in pre-flop if you raised, so you don’t have to worry usually about them having just slowplayed AA if you actually get to see a flop). If a possible straight exists, fold — because probably some moron hit it.

Anyways, those are some tips that I hope you enjoy and can put to good use! If you have any suggestions/questions, please let me know through the comment form. Thanks!

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