According to the theory outlined in this article, there is a basic skill that distinguishes those who win from those who constantly lose. This skill is the ability to fold aces after the flop in cash games. In tournaments, the situation is slightly different, but, in general, this idea is also true for them.

So why is it important to know when to fold “bullets” (as pocket aces are called) after the flop?

Everyone knows that pocket aces are the strongest hole cards, but the most remarkable thing about these cards is that they are not only the strongest hand. They are far ahead of all other hands.

How strong are pocket aces?

Generally, the four strongest hands in no-limit hold’em are A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and A-K suited. To evaluate their relative strength, consider the probability of each winning against an arbitrary hand. The probability of winning for these four hands is 85%, 82%, 80% and 67% respectively. These are statistical averages based on the assumption that you are all-in preflop with one of these four hands against a random hand, meaning any two cards. Please note that according to this scheme, the probability of winning for top pairs is almost equal.

Preflop pocket aces are unbeatable

Since (almost) all players know how to fold “junk” hands, we will consider the same probability of winning, but provided that the opponent plays only strong hands, for example in the range (6-6+, A-Q+, suited A-J, K-Q) . We get the 16 strongest hands (yes, we understand that this number can vary from player to player).

Now the probability of winning is 84%, 73%, 64% and 54% respectively. Note that pocket aces have kept the edge, while the odds of winning the rest of the hands have dropped significantly.

Moreover, at first glance, it seems that pocket kings are not far from aces in terms of the probability of winning against cards in this range – 73% and 84%. But if kings face aces head-to-head, they become a very weak hand and only have an 18% chance of winning. All of this is to say that pocket aces simply have no equal pre-flop in no-limit hold’em.

Pocket aces are a rare hand. Can they be dropped!?

Pocket aces come on average once every 221 hands. It seems like an eternity for players who can’t sit still without making moves like me (and I’m not alone). So whenever we see pocket aces, we get an adrenaline rush and start licking our lips nervously. We have colossal expectations, and we are ready even to kill. Reset them? Are you kidding me?

Profitability of pocket pairs and average win rate

Perhaps you know what the average win rate (winrate, WR) is. The average win rate is measured in the number of big blinds per 100 hands. If this player is sitting at an NL100 table, then that number is $1 per 100 hands.

One of the interesting types of statistical analysis that is commonly performed in databases of Texas Hold’em players is to calculate the profitability of all possible hole cards. This takes into account the average level of winnings. Consider 13 pocket pairs. As a rule, high pairs go first, the average win rate for them is simply huge, it usually exceeds 100 big blinds per 100 hands. Naturally, the expected average win rate gradually decreases from A-A to 2-2.

For couples under 6-6, the average win rate is negative

There is a border point where the average pair win rate becomes negative, usually this point is 6-6. each pocket pair from 5-5 to 2-2 has a negative expected payoff. By the way, you can take another piece of advice from this article: “You should always fold low pairs in no-limit hold’em.”

This declining pair win rate is a repeating pattern for all poker players – the strong, the weak, and the freaks. Even the best pros can’t make money with 4-4 for a long time, simply because this hand can be beaten too easily.

And because of this decreasing win rate, regardless of your playing skill, you will always make more money with Q-Q than with J-J. And with the strongest hand – pocket aces – you will always win.

Anyone can win with pocket aces

This is the most important point. Pocket aces are so strong that no one loses money with them in the long run, not even the weakest loose players. This assumes that players don’t usually think about playing aces correctly, as this is a hand that can take care of itself. Even if pocket aces are poorly played, they still bring money. Pocket aces are such a strong hand that they are profitable for all players.

If you have bullets, just close your eyes and go all-in or raise all-in and on average you will win money thanks to the incredible implied win for pocket aces. This is true. If your aces are down, it’s just bad luck and there’s nothing you can do about it. And this is where the line between great players and everyone else lies. With pocket aces, you can get above average results, but this requires the ability to fold AA after the flop.