8 Rules for How to Play with an Ace in Your Hand

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It's that exciting moment. You look down to peel your cards and you see it — an ace. But regardless of the other card, it's sometimes hard not to get carried away by the sheer power of having an ace in your hand.

That's why WPT Global have come up with eight rules on how to approach a hand of poker when you're holding an ace. They also cover some ways to stop yourself form overplaying when you have an Ace-x hand, be that an ace-high hand (any ace with a Broadway card) or an ace-low hand (an ace with any card from 2 through 9).

The 8 Rules

So without further ado — here are the eight rules!

  1. In a 9-handed game, only play AJ+ from UTG — this way you maintain a strong opening range from early position and can react to late position three-bets with some confidence
  2. Do not play A2o-A9o unless you are in late position — these problematic hands may look good, but you're going to face some tricky situations if you play them from any other position at the table.
  3. Play all suited A-x hands from middle position onward — flushes are good, right? Suited aces are stronger than they appear but still need to be played well and from the right positions to win you money.
  4. Choose suited wheel Aces (A2-A5) for your 3-bet/4-bet bluffs — these hands have some value when taken to the streets, which makes them perfect candidates for putting your opponent to the test.
  5. Do not go broke with one pair if you hold an Ace-low hand — avoid getting in trouble with these hands and if in doubt, throw them away.
  6. Fold off-suit Ace-low hands versus early position raises - even in the big blind — don't get yourself in trouble just because you have an ace. Again, if in doubt throw them away.
  7. Always choose a suited Ace over an off-suit ace to put in your 3-bet range — remember, flushes are good! Especially with the ability to make the nut flush.
  8. 3-bet every Ax suited hand in the SB vs. a late position open — suited aces are strong, and you can capitalize on any late position players widening their opening range.

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Don't Overplay Your Hands

With these rules in mind you should be in a good spot for any hands where you have an ace in your hand. But as we said at the beginning, it's important not to overplay your hands just because you have an ace. Some A-x hands just straight up are very hard to play and win with.

For that reason, you need to be wary of overplaying bad ace-x hands and here are three more tips on how to do that:

Fold Preflop

It may sound simple, but it's the easiest way to avoid overplaying. Just fold pre. "But how can you fold a hand preflop that's got an ace in it?" — the answer should be "quite easily."

From many positions at the table, the majority of your Ace-x hands should be folded preflop! That's just the truth!

Fold to Three-Bets

Having decided that you're not going to fold preflop, the next step is to decide "what do we do if we get three-bet?" Again, it might sound counterintuitive but the best thing you can do with the majority of your ace-x hands is fold to the pre-flop three-bet.

This is obviously very position-dependent, but there are definitely some aces — especially offsuit ones — that play terribly in three-bet pots. If in doubt, throw them away and wait for a better opportunity.

Don't Over-Inflate the Pot

It's something nearly every poker player has experienced. You flop a pair of aces and start betting, and by the time you get to the river you find you were dominated all the way. A pair of aces is a strong hand — it's the best pair possible — but it's by no means the best hand every time. Avoid being the kind of player who gets carried away when you flop top pair. You can try and get two streets of value, or check back the flop or turn to try and sniff out a bluff.

By folding preflop you minimize the amount you lose against Ace-high hands while still getting good value from weaker hands

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  • Do you make any of these mistakes when playing poker with an ace in your hand?

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