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Limping with Aces

10th April, 2006
I do not recommend limping with pocket Aces with the exception of a few very specific situations and I almost never limp with them, because it seems every time I do, it comes back to bite me.

However, I was in a no limit Texas holdem game a few days ago where the following situation came up. As you will see, it sure looked like limping may bite me again, but as it turned out, it was a very profitable hand.

The blinds were one and two dollars and the table was ten-handed. I was under the gun (first to act) and found two Aces. This game had been rather active before the flop with very few hands not being raised, so I decided to limp in and move all in when someone raised behind me. As it turned out, two other players limped and both of the blinds entered the pot, so it was five-handed. At this point I was very unhappy with my decision, since even Aces struggle to win against four random hands.

As the flop came, I was both excited and cautious at the same time, as it was A 3 5 with two Spades and I didn't have the Ace of Spades. Both blinds checked and I was faced with a tough decision, and once again I made one the "book" would consider incorrect. The correct play is to protect your hand against a flush draw by betting more than the pot to make the pot odds incorrect for a call.

I checked and the next player to my left bet $18 (with $10 in the pot). It was folded around to me, I pushed and he called and turned over 5 3 for two pair. As it turned out, he was the one trying to protect his hand against the flush.

I was fortunate enough to win a large pot in a hand where I played incorrectly. The play after the flop could have went either way, so it wasn't terrible, but the pre flop play was poor. If I had known that four of my opponents would see the flop with me, there is no way I would have limped. Of course if I had raised, the player with 5 3 would have folded and I would not have doubled up.

So what can we learn from this? Even when you play a hand incorrectly, you will win sometimes, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to play every hand to the best of your ability. This goes along the same lines as the player who wins a big pot with J 5 and starts playing it every time he / she has it. Yes it will win every once in a while, but overall it will lose money, just like playing your good hands incorrectly.

For a final thought, don't judge your playing sessions solely on results. Just because you won doesn't mean you played well and just because you lost doesn't mean you played poorly. Judge your play on the things you did.

Until next week, good luck at the tables.

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