There are opposing schools of thought as to whether you should limp in before the flop when holding a big pocket pair like aces in No Limit Texas Hold’em.
Some players believe that it’s a mistake to give your opponents the opportunity to outdraw you for free. When dealt A-A, this school will advise to raise pre-flop to narrow down the field and increase the odds of winning the pot.
That betting strategy makes some sense. While it’s true that pocket aces will win a high percentage of the time against a single opponent, with seven or eight players sticking around to see the flop, the chances of your aces winning the pot go way down.
The opposing school of thought is that raising too much with your pocket rockets will result in folds around the table. Your monster hand will end up winning just the blinds.
Now, that’s not a terrible result, but when you’re dealt a powerful hand like aces, you definitely want some action on the hand. Ideally, another player will raise you back, and then you can go all-in before the flop.
The theory of limping in with A-A is that you’ll be able to trap one of your opponents for more of their chips. Your smooth call before the flop may be perceived as a sign of weakness. A player with a hand like 9-9 or A-Q might decide to attack and raise. When that happens, spring into action and re-raise the bet again.
Which strategy works the best?
Well, as is the case in most poker situations, there are merits to both plays. Words like never and always don’t often apply to poker. If you tell your opponents that you’d never limp in with aces, you’d be guilty of thinking, and playing, inside the box.
As a general rule, when dealt A-A, make a small raise before the flop. However, depending upon the situation, limping in may work best, and will definitely add deception to your game.
Limping in with aces to trap your opponents works best when you’re at a table with very aggressive players. The problem, however, is that if no one else raises before the flop, you’ll find yourself in a multi-way pot.
Should that be the case, it’s critical that you don’t get married to your hand after the flop. That’s often a problem for novice players.
If you decide to set a trap by limping in and the plan fails, you must have the discipline to play the hand cautiously after the flop. If you don’t trust yourself, then limping in with pocket bullets isn’t for you.
Yet, if you never limp in with aces, you might as well put a target on your forehead whenever you do limp into a pot. It will become apparent to your opponents that when you limp in before the flop, you probably don’t have a big pair. That’s revealing too much information. You’d be playing too predictably.
If you ever want to limp in with hands like 5-6 suited or pocket fours and hope to see the flop without a raise, you must add limping in strong to your repertoire.
You don’t have to do if often. If you limped in strong even once, observant opponents will notice and be wary of your future limps. In a sense, the occasional limp in with a very strong hand will protect you from being attacked. Aggressive players will be less likely to pounce on your limp if they know that you sandbag from time to time.
With pocket aces, first, consider the situation. Then, make either a small raise or limp in; each strategy can be correct. Though limping in with aces isn’t necessarily the best way to play the hand, doing it now and again will free you up to be more creative and allow you to see some cheaper flops with marginal hands.
© 2006 Card Shark Medi