April 3, 2010 – 10:41 am | 7 Comments

I’ve compiled a short (just 7-pages) e-book, an introduction to the mathematics of poker. It’s basically covers how to calculate your expected value in a certain spot – starting with explaining what EV is, all …

Read the full story »
Theoretical

Discussions about the theory behind the game.

Opponent Modelling

Ideas about modelling opponent’s play, and how to best do that with mathematical tools.

Hand Analysis

Analyses of past hands (my own or otherwise), using math as much as possible to determine how well the hand was played.

Mental Processes

Thoughts about the mental/psychological side of poker – dealing with tilt, etc.

Miscellaneous

Other information – book reviews, contests, announcements, or random spew.

## My Biggest Leak: Pocket Aces

Submitted by on December 30, 2009 – 10:15 pm8 Comments
Image by dotbenjamin via Flickr

I was looking through my PokerTracker 3 database, and it seems like my biggest leak is pocket Aces. Yes, I’ve only had just over a thousand hands, and that is far from a solid sample size. But after being dealt Pocket Aces 10 times, and winning 6 of those 10 times, I’m down by an average of 6.20 BB per hand.

Let’s take a closer look at those 10 hands and see where I’ve gone wrong. Out of the 6 times I won, three of them were pre-flop steals, and only one went to a show down. That one hand was when the short stack went all-in on the flop, and I called. He showed a pair of Tens, and my Aces held up.  All in all, though, my winnings with Aces have all been small pots.

The losses, however, have all gone to a show down and all been relatively big pots. Only once did I manage to get all the chips in pre-flop (which I lost against a short stack with pocket 3s, when a 3 hit the river). I’ll analyze the other 3 hands in detail over the next few weeks, but in general, I do feel a little hard done by. Twice I got all the chips in the pot, made the right read that I was ahead, and ended up losing on the river. The third hand was one in which I probably should have played more aggressively. I’ll share these hands soon, and we’ll see what you think.

But first, I just thought I’d throw the question out there – how do you play pocket Aces? I’ve read that they’re good for winning small pots, but tend to not win too many large pots. My experience so far has seemed to back this up. But what do you think? Do you agree?

### 8 Comments »

• PokerNewbie says:

Your sample size is too small to conclude anything. When two reasonable player tangle in a pot, 1 pair hands are not what they show down. So yes the size of the pot has a relation to your hand strength.

• Derrick Kwa says:

I agree, my sample size is definitely too small for any definite conclusions. But I guess I'm thinking that if it's really a mistake in the way I'm playing, it's better to catch it sooner (when the sample size is small) rather than later (when the sample size is larger and I've lost even more).

As for what kind of hands show down, really? I've actually seen a lot of 1 pair hands at a showdown. Maybe it's because of the fact I'm playing at microstakes, but I've seen a lot of people showdown TPTK.

• Mac says:

I've played 2.5k hands and been dealt AA 14 times and won 100% of the time at 0.02NL

I play it aggressively and donks either ship it or fold without a chance to suck out. Unless they want to call bigger pre flop raises after their limps or calling 3bets then I suppose good luck to them.

I'm running 25bb/100 after 2.5k hands only because of a downswing cause by playing 13 tables of 6 max lol.

• Derrick Kwa says:

Cool, congrats on your run. =). I'm having a really bad run at the moment, actually.

As for AA, I've now won 85% of the time, after being dealt AA 27 times in 4.5k hands. I generally try not and overplay and get too aggressive with AA. My opening raise is more or less the same as what I do with most of my range, but if I get raise I'd definitely 3-bet. I think I'm concerned about adjusting my opening raise sizes for hand strength, because I'm worried it might make it too predictable? Or am I wrong in doing so?

• pokerdisciple says:

First, This isn't a leak. This is variance. A leak is you playing bad, you taking the worst of it. Variance is the short term results of your luck, be it good or bad. Getting all in with the best of it is never a leak.

One should not concern themselves with the results of getting all the money in when ahead. They should just try and do it as often as possible.

Easier said than done, I know. We all “feel hard done by”, as you say, by our luck sometimes. But remember variance is WHY poker is profitable. When you suffer a bad beat, be happy – you did your job well. And remember, the best players get the MOST bad beats, because they make their opponents put the money in bad the most often.

Don't let small runs of bad luck convince you not to play your strong hands correctly. Don't buy into the superstitions. get all the money in with aces preflop as often as you can, and you WILL show a profit.

As far as the win a small pot/lose a big pot business goes, that is true only when playing in good games with good players. Good players know how to play implied odds poker when the stacks are deep. They know how to play loose when the bets are cheap and only get big money in when they are way ahead. In those games, a player who really knows what he is doing with hands like 87s or 44 can devour a nit with AA.

But you aren't there right now. You're playing 2nl. Against the typical 2nl crowd, AA is your easiest money maker. You could play it completely formulaic and still show a big profit. Just raise to 25% of the effective stacks or greater, then shove any flop. This is not an optimal strategy, but against the 2nl players that call way to much, it will still profit big over a good sample size.

• Derrick Kwa says:

Well, it's both, in a sense. It's a challenge to tell whether you're losing with big hands because of variance, or because of a leak. AA is only the best hand preflop, and unless you get it all-in preflop every time you get AA (which I wasn't), there's a chance that the money lost from AA can come from misplaying the hand, instead of variance. So that was what I was considering. I think it's dangerous to assume that it's variance. Losing money with the best hand can be because of variance, definitely, but it can also be because you misplayed the hand – allowed in draws postflop, etc.

• pokerdisciple says:

“Twice I got all the chips in the pot, made the right read that I was ahead, and ended up losing on the river.”

This is really what I was responding to, in addition the the bit about the 3 on the river.

I don't disagree with your counterpoint in the slightest, but the situations you mentioned specifically above are certainly not leaks, and the overall tone of your post seems to categorize them as such.

It is true that many players lose of a lot of money with aces by misplaying them, effectively turning them into a leak. But the situations you describe here are just outdraws and bad beats, which is what I was trying to address.

• Al Poe says:

the other day im in a 1/2NL deep stack game holding QJh and flop broadway(KTc Ah). my opponent held TT and turned quads!!!!!! what are the odds of this happening?? Thx