Folding pocket Aces pre-flop. Are you crazy? Not necessarily.

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 28th, 2010

Imagine the scenario. You're playing Texas hold'em poker in a single table sit-and-go tournament. It's getting towards the latter stages, five players are left and you can smell an in-the-money finish. But you need to get in to the top three and stay there - while your chip stack would be nice if it was bigger.

The blinds are becoming significant and you know you'll have to make your move soon.

Out come the cards - miracles of miracles, you look down at your cards and see the magic AA looking back at you. Now, surely this means it's you right to win the hand. Announce "I'm all-in" and become the chip leader. Now, under most circumstances there's no doubt that you should either push in a tasty raise or even all-in with those big aces.

Although remarkable as it may seem, there are times to fold those "pocket rockets" and not see a flop. It takes discipline to do and is all about risk versus reward.

If you're playing single table sit and go tournaments you must finish in the first three to get a return on your entry fee. We all know that the great starting hands don't come along too often and when they do, a lot of players become married to the hand and can't put it down under any circumstances.

The savy player knows when to fold. Here's when to consider very carefully when to muck those aces before the flop.

Back to the scenario. Five players left, you're in fourth place with those Aces screaming at you to push your chips in. But you have the advantage being in last position to act. Two players with bigger stacks than you throw enough chips in the pot to force you all-in if you decide to play. And now the small stack in fifth place takes his chances and goes all-in.

The action is now on you. The urge to splash your chips in to the middle is irresistible. But before you do - this about it for a moment. As things stand, you can fold your aces now with the chance of moving in to third place and a money finish without risk.

If the player in the hand with the biggest stack wins it, he'll take out the other two with smaller stacks and you instantly get bumped up to third place and guaranteed money without. And without risking any of your chips which you still have to fight with.

Risk = zero. Reward = third place at least and a guaranteed prize money. That's when to fold anything pre-flop, not just aces. Throw anything away at any stage if it means you can move in to the money without risk.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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