Many beginners start playing Texas Hold’em and get overly excited to see an ace in their hand. To some extent, I understand why. An ace is the highest card in the deck and if you pair up, its always top pair. However, experienced players will prey on new players who over play an ace in their hand. This article will look at why an ace in poker is not everything and a few key reasons why “ace rag” should be played with caution.
When you play an ace with a weak second card (aka kicker), you need to remember that winning hands in Texas Hold’em are determined by the best 5 card hand. We all love making full houses and flushes but often, a winning hand is a pair or two pair. This means, the second card in your hand is often called upon to determine who wins the hand. In other words, if you and your opponent both have an ace on an A-2-7-7-10 board, then it is the person with the higher second card that wins. So, if you are sitting there with A-3 and your opponent has an A-Q, you will lose, and potentially a lot. When you are involved in any hand, always remember the context. Whether your second card is being used, and whether it is likely to better than your opponents, if you expect them to have a top pair hand too.
Now you know that the second card with an ace is important, we can say that a 2 through to 9 is generally considered an “ace rag”. Most poker literature shows that A-10 and up is considered a relatively strong hand. Obviously, the higher the second card, the better. Evan an A-10 in some games is a bit light to call raises. You will learn when it is profitable to play it as you gain experience.
Sometimes its’ fine to play an ace. Perhaps you are on the button or in the blinds and it’s a limped pot. If you are ever unsure when you hit top pair and are seeing a lot of action, don’t feel bad about folding. Remember, it is better to risk little and lose nothing than a lot if you don’t know where you are at.
There are times when it is profitable to play an ace rag. If you are in position and it’s suited, you can probably play it and expect to turn a profit. There are enough times when you can pick up small pots with a small bluff or flop flush or straight draws that make the hand profitable. The wheel suited aces are better to play than the middle aces due to the potential to make straights. It’s worth pointing out that it’s only profitable if you have deep stacks and it’s a small raise or limped pot.
With an ace in poker, think “small hand, small pot” and you are less likely to over play it
An ace in poker can be a big loser if you always play it and don’t play them carefully. Fold the low ones to raises and play the suited ones in position. Play the big aces aggressively and you will do fine. Remember, there are 8 other players at the table. Often, another ace is out there somewhere. If you are sitting with an very low kicker, proceed with caution. You will save money when you are beat.