I can write a book on Texas Hold’em. However, even though I have played professionally for 3 years, I can’t write a better book than Doyle Brunson, who has one heck of a lot more experience and success that I will ever have. So I won’t waste my time or yours. I can take some specific details and write a more detailed analysis than you will find in a general How to Win At Hold’em Poker type book. I know this may be of interest only to players who really like Poker and want to excel but I’ll give it a try. My goal is to start with three articles:
1) How To Play Pocket Aces
2) How To Play Pocket 9’s
3) How To Play Pocket Deuces
That is to say how to play high, medium and low pocket pairs. If this is too detailed start at my more general articles on poker? If you don’t like poker I have a lot of other articles you might like more.
You are on a nine person table playing no limit Texas Hold’em. You are dealt a pair of pocket aces, the highest rank first two cards you can be dealt. You will get this only once in every 220 rounds as far as probability goes. Your position does matter very much as you are much stronger in a late acting position. However, it is the first round and the position is different in this round than any other round. The big blind acts last in the first round, not the player with the button.
If you act in the last 4 positions one before the button you will have a great ability to knock either everyone out with an all in bet or better yet knock out all but one or two players with this bet. If you knock everyone out you steal the blinds. Not much money but a sure thing. If you have one caller you can double up and with aces you have and amazing advantage against one player. If two player call your all in bet, you have the best chance at that point of tripling up but the other two players combined have a slight advantage over you assuming they have either lower pairs or suited connectors. If you are called by more than two players, it means that you are the favorite but not the favorite over the entire field.
Why is this so? Because the average winning hand on a nine player Hold’em table is a high three of a kind. Three of a kind is the average winning hand even on a six player table just at a lower level of say three deuces with six players compared to three jacks with nine players. If you wind up in this situation, you are the underdog against the rest of the table unless another ace falls, since when it comes down to it, a pair of aces is only a pair. On the other hand if your aces stand up you will win one heck of a lot of money.
You can use the same strategy from an earlier position as well. However, if there are a lot of hot starting hands out there you won’t know it until you get a lot of calls. In a late position, if there are no aggressive raises in front of you, you are much more likely to have fewer callers. It seems that some bad player just has to call once they put in their first bet or put in a blind. One player against you is the best outcome of an all in on the first round, just the right odds, yet very good money. Use this strategy always when you are in a late position and there is no big bet before you. If an early position goes all in, you have to as well. It’s just common business sense. Hope he has a pair of kings or better yet an ace king. In the later case he is for the most part only playing with one live card, since his ace can’t improve except for a very long shot straight or flush draw.
A second strategy is to slow play the aces to try to maximize the size of the pot. I have said in other articles that the object of poker is to win the most money, not the most number of hands. So why not do this? Set a trap, run up the pot and reap the rewards. The answer is that the more people who are allowed to stay in the pot and draw cheaply, the better are your chances of someone drawing out on you. That just is too much risk even for such a high reward. I advise against it. It is your money though.
The final strategy is a raise with the aces equal to say 3 or 4 times the big blind. I would do this in and early position only and get out if the flop and action looks like a pair of aces just will not win. Some people will play that pair as if married to it. Don’t do that. It is only one pair. Play it as such. If you flop a set though you will be in a great position for a big bet on the fourth and fifth streets.
With pocket aces in a late position, bet high to eliminate players. In an early position bet moderately on the first round and play your hand according to what the flop brings. After all you have 5/7ths of all the information you are going to have on the flop.
Good luck and I hope this helps. I also hope you are already a decent poker player and can understand this analysis, whether you agree with it or not.