Yes, 100% of the time, you must raise pre flop with AA. I am sure that I have covered this somewhere before, but it is so important that I felt a refresher was in order.
The reason this subject came to mind again was a limit game I was playing in recently. It was an aggressive game with a great deal of pre flop raising, and rather poor play overall after the flop. It was folded to a middle position player who limped in and everyone folded to me in the big blind. As I mentioned, there was quite a bit of pre flop aggression, so this was an odd hand, but hey, I always appreciate a free look at the flop.
I looked down to find 76o and checked. The flop came Q 4 5 and I bet into my opponent with my open-end straight draw. He re-raised and I called. The turn was a blank, I checked, he bet and I called. The river was an 8, completing my straight. I checked, he bet and we ended up capping the betting. As I was raking in a nice pot he started ranting and raving about how bad I was and didn't deserve to win. This continued for a bit as I sat there smiling. Oh yeah, in case you hadn't figured it out from the title, he had pocket aces.
Of course I didn't take the time to instruct him on all of the things he did wrong in the hand, but we are going to learn from his mistakes here.
The first mistake was not raising pre flop. With a game as aggressive as this one was, he had planned on being raised and then raising again, but what he didn't bother to think about was the possibility of no one raising behind him. In addition, no one at the table would have put him on such a strong hand if he had raised, so he still would of received action from the late position players if they were going to play for a single bet. If he had raised, I would have folded my hand and he would have won the blinds instead of losing a big pot.
The other area where he failed was capping the river. The way I played the hand screamed draw on the flop and that I hit my draw on the river. He could have saved two big bets by calling my first re-raise on the river instead of jamming the pot.
Please, PLEASE make a commitment to raise with AA pre flop until you are at the professional level of play. You will win more over time, and have fewer frustrations like the one above.
Until next week, good luck at the tables!
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