re: Poker & Playin Aces
I don't think it's ever right, in any circumstance, to just smooth call a raise with Aces. It's much better to 3bet/4bet the raiser 2.5-3x his bet. I think it's necessary to define your hand, and to show bonafide strength pre-flop, in order to put pressure on your opponent. This accomplishes two things:
1. It puts the pressure on your opponent, who is now forced to believe that you are ahead pre-flop.
2. Whether you're in late or early position, you're usually given control of the pot. Even if a person has Kings and the flop comes J-8-4 rainbow, a good player will usually check to see how you lead out. No need to mention calling down a forced bluff here.
The trouble that most players have with Aces is usually the mystique that it has, that somehow Aces are the end-all to a huge payoff. However, in a game where players are likely to raise with hands like KQos, Js10s, you will really have to be the aggressor in order to save yourself from possible suckouts.
One thing to be aware of is leaning just beyond the edge of the game's comfort level. What I mean is, if you notice that the game is very tight, a typical 3-5xBB raise should weed out the garbage hands before the flop. However, if the game is loose and there's a lot of action, depending on your image and position, it may be necessary to either:
1)Lead out with a very big raise from Early Position,
2) Re-Raise 3x the raiser from later position, or,
3) If you know that people are raising damn near every hand, or a couple maniacs are to your left, check with the intent of popping it up upon the raise.
*Note that Number 3 is a volatile option, since these maniacs may just surprise (see: Upset) you by just smooth calling with 64offsuit. Depending on your stack and your opponents' stacks, I wouldn't try anything fancy like this unless you have them covered and you are willing to allow more players to see the flop and risk losing it all to a suckout in exchange for a possible big payout.
All that being said, do know that Aces are just as good as any other hand until you see the board develop. In most cases, if you're not getting paid off from this hand, it's usually one of two things:
1) You tried to slow play the hand by building the pot / slowplaying / trapping.
2) You got all your chips into the middle with the best hand and the opponent sucked out.
The biggest factor that should determine how to play your Aces should be the texture of the game, and your opponents. Pay closer attention to the pace, ebb & flow of your game, and you should know how to execute your hand accordingly.
If it's not rare to see people putting it all-in Pre-Flop with 2 or 3 callers (*ahem* freerolls
), then don't be scared of shoving all-in PF with your hand. Whether you get a walk or not, it's usually worth the shot. But, if the game is tight, then again, 3-5xBB is usually sufficient, and if you get 3betted, then shoving is your best play.
One last thing to be aware of: Your opponents' stacks.
If your opponents pops you/opens up, figure out what the pot odds
are for him. If you have him/her covered, consciously try to commit them to the pot by forcing them to call/fold a bet worth at least 1/3 - 1/2 of their stack. If they've opened up with a 1/3 of their stack already, I would already be shoving them to commit the rest of their chips pre-flop, as it's just as likely that they are either putting it all in, or folding, by the turn.