Nothing comes better in poker rather than calling an all in with pocket Aces. Playing monster hands preflop is pretty straightforward and highly remunerative, but sadly you can’t do that all the time and even more sadly, it might as well happen that you do no end up winning the pot.
Is there an absolute right way to play this kind of hands? Let’s find it out.
Playing AA-KK preflop
That’s way too much easy. Just try to put all the chips in…but be careful! One common mistake is trying to push it too hard, scaring other people off. It’s not written anywhere that with AA you cannot call a 3bet rather than 4betting.
Yes, it opens you to some risks, but if you are playing against a widely aggressive player who re-raises a lot, showing strength might not bet right move, especially if he has the tendency to fold when being 4betted.
Also in your 3bet calling range you might want have also monster hands other than speculative and mid-strength hands.
A note about KK: if you are in early stage of a tournament and your effective stack is 400bb deep, there are very few reasons to go all in preflop with the second nuts, because can you really expect someone to go all in 400bb deep with less than KK? Hoping for QQ or AK is definitely not a winning strategy in the early stages.
Playing QQ-JJ-AK preflop
If you could look at all the chips you have won with a given hand, the balance for hands such as JJ and AK would be surprisingly low, or even negative. JJ is not a that strong hand to die with. AK is even more speculative; although you have blockers for combos of AA-KK, therefore less likely in your opponent’s hand because you have an A and a K in yours, as said above you cannot really expect many players, even bad ones, go all in preflop for a deep stack with AQ or AJ and you are not playing at all good against QQ or KK.
The importance of the perceived image
A very nit player goes all in preflop after your 3bet. Would you be surprised if he has less than KK? No.
A very loose aggressive player 4bets you preflop, is QQ a good hand to play against him? Sure.
In the first case you can avoid losing a bunch of money just paying attention to your opponents’ styles. In the second case, there’s not much to worry about, either the hand goes right or wrong. Against a wide 4bet range, QQ or AK are totally fine hands to play 100bb stacks preflop with and if you end up losing, it’s just a cooler.
Play monster hands aggressively, but always pay attention to two key factors: your opponent’s prelfop tendencies and the depth of the stacks. In a very early stage of a tournament, for instance, if you opponent 4bets, you might want to just call with AA, because it’s unlikely that he wants to put all the chips in with KK, while on a flop like 852 his overpair would just look too strong to find a way to fold.