Thursday, February 21, 2008

Profiting with Suited Aces

I think many players overvalue and misplay weak suited Aces. They put too much $ in pre-flop and then can’t seem to get away from top pair weak kicker. While I am not a big fan, when considering which sub-premium hands to play, they are playable if you “begin with the end in mind”. What I mean by that is most of the time, you do not want to flop an Ace and have top pair, rag kicker. You are looking to flop a nut flush draw (or better) – period. These hands are somewhat better than suited connectors because if you make your flush, you will know you have the nuts (at least until the board pairs).

I never really considered this type of hand (A-Xs) to be very strong but when I look at my PokerTracker data (80,000 hands), I was somewhat surprised to see suited Aces are the third most profitable group of hands I play. Not surprisingly, Pocket pairs (not just the big ones) are the most profitable group. A-K and A-Q (both suited and offsuit) are the second most profitable group. Third, are the other suited Aces. I consider A-Ks, A-Qs (and A-Js, A-10s somewhat less so) to have value as “2 big cards” in addition to being a suited Ace. However, A-9s to A-2s are playable almost exclusively as suited Aces due to the probability of domination. So, I have been thinking about how to get the most value from them while not placing myself in risky spots where the price isn’t right.

You will flop two (or better yet three) of your suit when holding two suited cards approximately once every eight flops. The only other hands you would want to flop might be Aces up where you pair both of your hole cards (about 49 to 1 or 2%) or one pair and the nut flush draw (giving you 9 outs to the flush, 2 outs to trips, 3 outs to two pair). If you do not flop two (or more) of your suit or Aces up, you may usually check/fold with a clear conscience.

Our goal with this type of hand is to see a flop as cheaply as possible because you need to connect with the flop to continue with confidence.

Therefore, in EP, MP, and LP, I recommend limping A-2s through A-9s.
If someone raises after you limp, only call if you are getting the right pot odds. Then, “fit or fold” on the flop. My rationale here is you want to win a big pot so you do not mind more players taking the flop. You want your implied odds as high as possible –remember, you are hoping to make the nut flush and have an opponent make a weaker hand. If you are in LP, flopped top pair rag kicker, you may be in the lead but don’t get married to the hand. You may lead out (and will often win right there) if checked to but beware a caller or worse, a raiser. You have to think, with an Ace on the flop, what does my opponent have that he wants to call (or raise) my bet with? Often, a better Ace he limped in from EP with. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I suggest playing A-10s through A-Ks a bit more aggressively.
You can win with these hands just by flopping an Ace, making top pair top kicker by pairing your other card, making Aces up, or the nut flush. I would open bet these hands for 3-4xBB from any position. If raised, I would just call from EP, and re-raise from MP or LP. I will then C-Bet any flop. If I connected with the flop, and my C-Bet gets raised, I will re-raise if I made any of the hands I mentioned above (e.g. TPTK, TPGK, Aces up, or the nut flush draw).

This type of strategy (although admittedly weak-tight) has served me well and might work for you, too. Until next time, good luck at the tables.


Fuel55 said...

Your ability to limp in bigger cash games is almost impossible. So just know that your strategy is only plausible in lower limits.

Lucypher said...

Fuel, thanks for stopping by. I read on RecessRampage's blog that you said a pot sized bet is usually an indication of weakness. I would like to read what you have to say on that topic so would you be so kind as to point me to that post? Thanks.