Absence of Aces preflop and what it can mean for your MTT game
Things I have learned the hard way 101.
OK, new guys! This one is for you. Here is the basic chart "Absence of Aces preflop" from Super System 1. First the chart, and then I'll talk a bit about it.
Now, how to use this!
That "number of players" is just that; do not get confused and think just because it has been folded around to you on the button and only the blinds are left to act that you can use the 3 player figures! Also, you must stick to the total number even if you have a lot of sit outs, as you just do not know what they are tossing into the muck every hand. This might seem obvious to you, but not everyone. It is an honest mistake to think this.
Looking at this, we can safely make a few assumptions using the odds
1) When you have an ace-rag (rag = 2 thru 9) 9 handed, the odds are 69% against
you being the only one with an ace. So, therefore, not only does someone else have one, it is likely to be higher than yours. Why? Simple! We know at least two of you have an ace, therefore odds are good they are not the same hand. Therefore one has a bigger kicker than the other at least 50% of the time. So if you have A-6 and are facing an UTG raise and at least one caller, not only do one of them most likely have an ace as well, it most likely has a better kicker than yours because they raised UTG.
2) By the same token, if you raise on the button with a-rag and get re-raised out of the blinds, it possibly means you have kicker trouble. Since no one has yet showed strength yet, they could very well have a better than 9 kicker. That is often the limit for raising out of the blind preflop because you are first to act post flop. Or, they might just think if it was folded around to you that is why you are raising. Keep all that in mind. This is the danger of ace rag; you often will hit your ace, only to find out you are out kicked.
3) This can also be of value when you have AK/Q/J/10. The same odds apply. If someone is showing strength and you think it might be an ace, it will most likely be with a worse kicker. You can combine this with what you know about that guy raising UTG; If he only does it with an ace ( or often with any
ace), you might want to see if he will call a re-raise or a shove because you know you got him outkicked. If he could do it with any or a small pair, then you know to be careful and not get into a coin flip with 2 overcards vs a pair and just call, see that flop. Just as well, you know if he has an ace rag the odds are good he can pair that weak kicker on a no-paint board. If he raises preflop with ace-rag and shows strength on the ragged flop, he could well have made a small pair. Now you have to use your pot odds
and outs to see if you can chase and out-pair him with your
4) As you can see, after you get down to the final table, the odds of someone else also having an ace diminishes with each fewer player. Once down to 6 players, there is better
than a 50% chance no one has a ace if you do. By the time you hit 4 players, it's almost a 70% chance no one else has an ace if you do. Suddenly, kicker does not matter near as much. Since K-rag is also good short handed, that is what you have to watch out for now with your ace-rag; K, Q, and J's on the board.
5) There is also valuable info concerning the odds that anyone
has an ace, period. By the time you get down to 4 players, the odds become better than 50% that no one has an ace when you do not as well. That can tell you that the guy raising does not necessarily have an ace. If he does, it most likely has a weak kicker. Again, this is why K/Q-rag go up in value while the number of players gets fewer.
6) Keep in mind what board over cards do to your hand when you do not pair your ace or your kicker, or if you only pair the ace. If you have A-6 and the villain has A-2, the board filling up with cards higher than a 6 will make it a split pot (7-9-10-K-A = split for A-6 and A-2; you both have A-A-K-10-9; 7-9-J-8-K = split as well; you both have A-K-J-9-8). Just as well, two aces and another pair can give you both the same full house, but be careful; if it is A-A-2-2-3, you could find yourself losing with AK to a guy with A-3. So use that chart and knowledge of your opponent to determine if this is the case. You might not want to shove thinking you can safely bluff him off the hand and split it at worse; you might very well just lose, period!
So, I hope this helps you guys as much as it has helped me. I really became more cautious with my Ace-rags after realizing all this; now I seldom find myself in a situation where I am out kicked by a guy with a better ace. If
I do come in UTG or on the button with a weak ace, I know what to be aware of.
And now so should you.