ace-x suited -- how valuable is it?



lets say you're at a 25$ table (blinds are .12/.25) and you hold ace-x suited (where x is lower than, say, 9).

you will hardly ever flop a flush, (less than 1%), and will rarely flop four to a flush (~10% of the time). even if you flop four to the flush, in online poker you will rarely be given the correct odds to see the turn and river (so you will have to fold -- unless your opponent is a huge donk and will call your bets if you hit the flush, making your implied odds worthy of a call -- which is fairly rare even online.)

now, i am not in the business of betting at a pair of aces when i have a bad kicker (anything lower than a queen kicker and i am extremely cautious -- people will raise AK so you can be reasonably sure your queen is good if the pot was not raised preflop... but if you have AJ or A10, it is very possible you're up against the jack or queen that will break you)...
so, given that you are not that interested in pairing your ace or your lower card, and since hitting two pair or trips is so rare that it does not really effect your decision, statistically speaking...

ok, so with ace-x suited, you are definitely chasing the flush. but will it hit often enough to justify playing the hand? you have a 16% chance of hitting your flush by the last card...
a typical 25$ table will have about 50% of the players in, so in a ring game you'll be calling for .25 to get at a pot of about 2$. looks like you're getting the right odds for a call here, in an unraised pot. note that if the pot is raised, say it costs you .50 to get at a 2$ pot, you are not getting the right odds to call -- that means that ace-x suited probably shouldn't be played in early positions.

after the flop, you will probably be looking at bets between 50% and pot sized, so you won't be getting the odds to chase your flush down.

so, what does it all mean... ace-x suited can't be played in early or middle position, statistically speaking, and you can forget about fishing for a flush with K-x suited or Q-x suited. at least, that's what the data seems to tell me. i'd like to hear some thoughts on the matter though



great post, senadiel
personally, i find there is little value in an Ax type hand, suited or offsuit.
I may play them in unraised multiway pots the same way that small pocket pairs are usually played.
Though now looking at the numbers you've laid out for us, it seems like it has even less value than a small pocket pair.
it's so rare to hit your flush, and slightly more likely to hit 2 pair or trips with the x.
One argument you could present is that if it's been folded to you or if you're in an unraised multiway pot, you could possibly assume you have the strongest ace out there.
Say if you have A8 or A9 at a very aggressive table, and it's been limped to you.
You might play this hand because you know that if you hit your ace, you probably will be ahead. You know that anyone who has an AT or higher will probably raise PF, so you could safely assume that you have the strongest ace and can safely bet it when the flop pairs you.
One situation i do find value in Ax is in shorthanded games. If you're in a game when it gets down to 4 or 5 handed, then i like to actually raise with it to represent something bigger and hopefully take the blinds down, or take the pot down with a strong continuation bet.
again nice post :)



plays poker on hard mode
Good posts. When I first started playing poker (not yet for money at that point, thankfully) my instinct and initial strategy was to play anything when an ace in it. I think maybe a lot of people start off with that instinct. The ace is just so sexy. But I've since learned a lot of what you've said about the odds with it. Even on the offchance that I hit that ace, I'm probably going to lose with that kind of kicker.

It amazes me how many people seem not even to hesitate to go all-in with an A2 suited.


I agree with Chuck, in an unraised multiway pot, this is a safe call.

My opinion is this. In an unraised pot in middle or late position with 3-5 callers, I will play this hand. That gives me good odds, due to the fact that there are a lot of callers that are not willing to committ much money to their hand. If I hit 4 to a straight or I hit a pair with either of my cards on the flop, then i'm going to lead out with this hand to see where I stand in terms of position in the hand. If i'm reraised and I can reasonably assume that I am behind, then I get out of the pot without investing a lot to it. If I am smooth called, then I am fairly confident that my pair is good. I also know that I still have a lot of outs: I could hit 2 pair, set, or nut flush.

The key to this hand is investing little to it pre-flop, and knowing when to let the hand go post flop. I think that this can be a very profitable hand so long as you don't invest a lot to the pot on the pots you don't take down, and you play aggressively enough to make the pot worthwhile when you do hit the flush.