Cracking aces

Cracking aces

Monday, 19 October 2009

Dear Tom,

Say you had a hypothetical tell on an opponent which 100% guaranteed that his hole cards are aces. Should you always call him hoping to bust him? Does it all depend on stack sizes? Could you call with any two cards with a deep enough stack, or just pocket pairs and suited connectors? Or is it simply bad poker to call with what you know to be a worse hand?

Folco, North London

Dear Folco

Interesting question. No, its certainly not bad poker to call with the worst hand, which is why 56 suited is so much better a hand in full ring than ATo. However, you can’t do it with any two cards. Your implied odds hang on being deep stacked and if you have 2-7o your only real chance of getting all of opponent’s chips in the middle is to flop a mystery two pair. This is 50 to 1 against, so even at the top of a tournament, with 200BB apiece, calling a pot sized raise won’t give you implied odds this big. In any case, your opponent outdraws you about a quarter of the time.

Something like 6-7 suited is a bit better, since the flop will bring an insta-straight or insta-flush about 2% of the time. But really, this is not enough to justify your terrible odds unless you know your opponent has a habit of checking aces on the flop. Calling to hit a draw against a player you know is strong enough, and wise enough to keep betting, is the classic mug’s game

Against certain A-A, there’s only one hand with which you can call with equanimity and that is a pair. The bigger your stack the better your return when you hit, but you can call all the way down to 20BB since the 12% of the time you hit, you will practically always get all your opponents chips in and very rarely get outdrawn.

Tags: Tom Sambrook, Strategy,