This article is in a series of articles that will look at various starting hands you can get in Texas Hold em and what to do with them. It will focus mainly on preflop play, and will cover a normal 9 handed No limit game were you have an average chip size and a reasonable read on other players. While these articles do focus on no limit play, the principles can be applied to limit and pot limit games.
This first article will look at the 3 best starting hands you can get A, A, K, K and Q, Q. The first thing you have to realize about these hands is that they are very powerful hands preflop, but can lose their value post flop especially in multi-way flops. Therefore it is recommended that you play these hands aggressively but also have the will power to able to muck them when it looks like they are losing. These hands can either make you a lot of money or lose you a lot of money so be careful.
e will now look at what you should do with these hands in the following 3 positions early, which is 1st or 2nd person to act, late position on the button or 1 off it, or in middle position.
In early position I like to raise with these hands. I will generally raise 3 to 4 times the big blind. In a tighter game I might lower this slightly and in a looser game I might raise 5 or 6 times the big blind. I will generally not raise less than 3 times the big blind because that just encourages people to call with weak hands and gives them a chance to get lucky on the flop and beat you. I would rather pick up the blinds safely then risk losing a large pot because I let people in cheaply.
Another option from this position is to limp in if you are confident someone behind you will raise. If they do raise you can then reraise them and therefore win a much bigger pot. However I do not like this option as once again it gives the other players a chance to get into the pot cheaply.
If I get reraised preflop I then have to consider what I think they have. If I have A, A I more then likely raise all in, if I have K,K or Q,Q I have to work out if I think I am beat. If I think I am I fold. If not the best option is to raise all in to avoid them calling you with a hand like A,K or A,Q and flopping an ace.
You could flat call the reraise to get more chips of your opponent but this is risky with any hand except A, A. With A, A it might be worth doing as you can then check or bet small on the flop and hope they go all in and win the pot. It does however have some risks and therefore should only be occasional.
My play in the middle position depends on if people have already entered the pot in front of me. If no one has entered, I will enter for a standard raise of 3 or 4 times the big blind. If people have already entered by limping I will increase the raise to about the size of the pot. If someone has raised I will generally reraise all in or fold depending on how strong I feel they are.
If I get reraised then I will follow the advice in the early position section above.
If no has entered the pot then I will enter for a standard raise. If people have already entered I will either reraise or fold as necessary (see the above sections for more information on this).
The only exception to this is that I might limp in there and hope that the person behind raises preflop giving me a chance to reraise him. The other benefit of this play is that it disguises the strength of my hand and so gives me a chance to get more money of the blinds post flop. However this play is risky and should only be attempted if you have a good read on the opponent and even then it should be done occasionally.