Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poker Strategy: Limping With AA?

A recent post by Tony Bigcharles (or TBC or sevencard2003) mentioned his regret at limping in two hands with AA in early position in some cash game $1/2 NL Hold em. Not surprisingly, he lost both hands. Several posters on Tony's blog and other places in cyberspace blasted him for it, with many players claiming that you should never limp with AA. Well, never means never, and I certainly do not agree. If you agree with the premise that sometimes you can limp with AA, the issue then becomes "when can you do it, and how should you play after you do it?" Or course, I realize that limping with AA is certainly not a normal play good players make and takes a player with a good sense of the circumstances and table character along with a willingness to gamble (lol).

First, position is extremely important. Sometimes people are tempted to limp with AA when they are UTG or in early position and fear that a raise might scare off players, leaving them with only the blinds -- a very poor return on the best starting hand in poker. Of course, since players have a tendency to overplay pocket Aces, isn't winning a little bit better than potentially losing a lot?

On the other hand, limping in also increases the odds that several people might be in the pot -- something you obviously do not want to happen. Limping in and seeing the flop with four or five others is a disaster waiting to happen.

I think limping UTG or in EP is most effective in the following circumstances:

1) You are convinced that one or more players at the table, based on previous hands, will be aggressive and raise the pot. This gives you a chance to reraise, maybe even push all in if the circumstances seem right.

2) You are short stacked in a tournament and are trying to induce a raise from someone looking to steal from your limp. However, if you have been extremely short stacked and have been in fold or shove mode, you are practically announcing that you have a monster and will likely get little or no action.

3) You are in a tournament that has a top-heavy payout or bonus. For example, the first place winner gets a bonus of a ticket to a a big tournament and second place on only gets a meager payouts. In this kind of example it might be worth the risk to lose the hand since the upside is so high.

A key point in limping with AA, however, is that you can't fall in love with the cards. When you know you are beat you have to have the discipline to fold your hand. If you can't muster the courage to do that, you probably have no business limping with them in the first place.

I am sure that some other players can come up with additional examples of when limping with Aces might be a decent idea. The point is that, like most things in life, there is not a 100% black or white, right or wrong answer. Those who think like that are likely missing opportunities to take their game to the next level.


Blogger Pete P. Peters said...

I've limped with AA twice this month, both in tournament play (I can't recall the last time I've limped with AA in a cash game).

Of the two two times, one falls under your scenario #(1) and the other under scenario #(3).

The first, I was UTG, got a raise, three bet, and Villain shoved. Worked perfectly. Of course, a better Villian might have been more suspect of my limp-raise from UTG.

As for the scenario three hand, I was in BB and it limped around. Given my relatively small chip stack and my desire to build my stack in order to make a "real run" at the money, I decided to risk letting two stray hands see flop (a pure risk/reward decision). Of course, I got exactly what I deserved for limping AA when the small blinds 33 flopped a set and I got stacked.

In general, I think limping with AA has its spots; but also that you have to be good enough to get away from the hand when the post-flop action doesn't smell right.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous KenP said...

Nahhh, you NEVER limp AA. All the experts know that; only fish/donks limp aces.

Listen to the experts:
-72 is a raising hand
-crubs never lose
-24 always kills
-Presto!!! It never loses.

You see playing hands in non-standard ways is just never done.

You need to be predictable. Yeah,that is the way to big money. Not sure of the flow direction though.

5:35 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Surprisingly, gentlemen, some people just do not get it.

Pete: Welcome to the blog! I have read some of your posts and know who you who you are via TBC. Always glad to have input from people who know their stuff!

And Ken P -- I certainly know that your poker knowledge runs deep.

5:47 PM  
Blogger The Neophyte said...

It is rare for me to limp aces. I won't say I don't do it because I have but I don't like to do it and usually will not. I played in one tourney where 2 different people limped aces and let me see a flop and I busted both of them when I hit it big with crappy hands. In one instance I didn't blame the gal for not raising, she was short and UTG and was hoping to get a raise. The other guy was on the button and let me see a flop with small suited connectors and I busted him when I flopped the flush. In both cases a raise has me gone.

TJ Cloutier said it best. If you don't raise aces, don't go broke with aces. In other words be aware you may be outflopped and be prepared to let it go.

7:25 PM  
Blogger crafty said...

Really, the only "never" in poker is, never play a given hand the same way every single time, even AA - although you're really gonna have to work hard to justify limping with the rockets. And you're doing it then ONLY to entice a raise, after which you should shove like you've never shoved before.

Even allowing that one should never say never, I would play aces strong more than 19 times out of 20. It increases your reward potential but WAY increases risk.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

As I mentioned I think on Tony's blog, I saw two people limp with ace's on consecutive nights and both win with them, once against me(ouch). But I think it's rare.

I believe the reason to very ocasionally limp with them is to vary your play for the "meta" game so you are not too predictable. Last poker book I read said he would limp with them maybe 10% of the time (I think) just to change it up.

Good post, no matter what Waffles says about you.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Mr Subliminal said...

Nice post which inspired one of my own.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous DaBlackPimp said...

Tony has demonstrated time and time again that he cannot profitably limp with AA.

Tony Bigcharles should never limp with AA.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Lucki Duck said...

Had to fold A-A in a $1-2 cash game a few weeks ago in Vegas. I knew with almost 100% certainty I was beat, but it was still hard to toss the bullets.

8:58 AM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I think it is VERY important if you are good enough of a player to limp with AA you have to be a good enough player to fold it in a wide variety of situations post flop. If you can not fold AA then you should not limp it.

10:46 AM  
Blogger flasherman4559 said...

My best advice I could ever give to a player about pocket aces.....they're only a pair after the flop.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous WECpoker said...

My new strategy is to set mine with Aces

1:35 AM  
Anonymous KenP said...

And Ken P -- I certainly know that your poker knowledge runs deep.

You are just echoing what everyone says:

Around KenP it always gets pretty deep.

5:28 PM  
Blogger jamyhawk said...

Limping with aces has to be -EV
For every time you get someone to shove and catch them, I think you will get stacked twice. Just not worth it.

10:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home