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Poker :: Repeat after me...
  submitted on July 30, 2007, 5:50 PM

Aces are not unbeatable.
Aces are not unbeatable.

I've been using Poker Tracker for a bit, and while I've only collected about 3,500 hands in cash games so far, I've noticed a very disturbing trend. I am awful at playing aces. Awful. I have been stacked twice playing them...

FullTiltPoker Game #2657364345: Table Huxley Cross - $0.25/$0.50 - No Limit Hold'em - 17:06:04 ET - 2007/06/13
Seat 1: narizblanco ($29.35)
Seat 2: De3z NuTz ($43)
Seat 3: Guacanagarix ($25.80)
Seat 4: RichasAA ($51.90)
Seat 5: Mike_Maloney ($42.25)
Seat 6: gnff ($54.35)
Seat 7: Bailas ($39.50)
Seat 8: doubledz ($18)
Seat 9: AaretsTBFTIer ($51.85)
doubledz posts the small blind of $0.25
AaretsTBFTIer posts the big blind of $0.50
The button is in seat #7
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Mike_Maloney [Ah As]
narizblanco calls $0.50
De3z NuTz folds
Guacanagarix folds
RichasAA folds
Mike_Maloney raises to $1.50 (Standard raise, maybe should have raised to $2)
gnff calls $1.50
Bailas folds
doubledz folds
AaretsTBFTIer folds
narizblanco folds
*** FLOP *** [7s Td 5d]
Mike_Maloney has 15 seconds left to act
Mike_Maloney bets $2.50
gnff raises to $5 (I bet out of position, so not too worried about the raise)
Mike_Maloney has 15 seconds left to act
Mike_Maloney raises to $12
gnff raises to $24
Mike_Maloney raises to $40.75, and is all in
gnff calls $16.75
Mike_Maloney shows [Ah As]
gnff shows [5c 5h]
*** TURN *** [7s Td 5d] [7d]
*** RIVER *** [7s Td 5d 7d] [Ts]
Mike_Maloney shows two pair, Aces and Tens
gnff shows a full house, Fives full of Tens
gnff wins the pot ($82.75) with a full house, Fives full of Tens
Mike_Maloney is sitting out
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $85.75 | Rake $3
Board: [7s Td 5d 7d Ts]
Seat 1: narizblanco folded before the Flop
Seat 2: De3z NuTz didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: Guacanagarix didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: RichasAA didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: Mike_Maloney showed [Ah As] and lost with two pair, Aces and Tens
Seat 6: gnff showed [5c 5h] and won ($82.75) with a full house, Fives full of Tens
Seat 7: Bailas (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: doubledz (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 9: AaretsTBFTIer (big blind) folded before the Flop

Looking back on this hand, my re-raise to $12 was made to see where I was at. I'm out of position, so I'm at a disadvantage in the hand, and I wanted to see what his re-raise meant. Really, once he popped it back up to $24, I should have folded. I overplayed my aces, and had myself convinced that he's playing something like top pair, and didn't stop to consider a set. I would have lost money on the hand either way, but I didn't limit the damage by pushing on his re-raise instead of folding.

FullTiltPoker Game #3096908414: Table Piedmont - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:22:53 ET - 2007/07/29
Seat 1: ToxicAces7 ($99)
Seat 2: johnnyk1 ($76.25), is sitting out
Seat 3: Mike_Maloney ($130.15)
Seat 4: BigFlounds ($218.75)
Seat 5: gui_999 ($98.70)
Seat 6: fishsandwitch ($99)
Seat 7: IRONBALLSS ($102.50)
Seat 8: David8814 ($94.35)
Seat 9: ggandgl ($177)
ToxicAces7 posts the small blind of $0.50
Mike_Maloney posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #9
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Mike_Maloney [Ac Ad]
ToxicAces7: yo iron wuts good kid
BigFlounds has 15 seconds left to act
BigFlounds calls $1
gui_999 raises to $4.50
fishsandwitch folds
David8814 folds
ggandgl folds
ToxicAces7 folds
Mike_Maloney calls $3.50
BigFlounds calls $3.50
*** FLOP *** [3d 8c Qc]
Mike_Maloney checks
BigFlounds checks
gui_999 checks
*** TURN *** [3d 8c Qc] [Th]
Mike_Maloney checks
BigFlounds checks
gui_999 bets $10
Mike_Maloney raises to $25
BigFlounds folds
gui_999 raises to $89
Mike_Maloney raises to $125.65, and is all in
gui_999 calls $5.20, and is all in
Mike_Maloney shows [Ac Ad]
gui_999 shows [Td Ts]
Uncalled bet of $31.45 returned to Mike_Maloney
*** RIVER *** [3d 8c Qc Th] [9h]
Mike_Maloney shows a pair of Aces
gui_999 shows three of a kind, Tens
gui_999 wins the pot ($199.40) with three of a kind, Tens
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $202.40 | Rake $3
Board: [3d 8c Qc Th 9h]
Seat 1: ToxicAces7 (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: johnnyk1 is sitting out
Seat 3: Mike_Maloney (big blind) showed [Ac Ad] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 4: BigFlounds folded on the Turn
Seat 5: gui_999 showed [Td Ts] and won ($199.40) with three of a kind, Tens
Seat 6: fishsandwitch didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: IRONBALLSS didn't bet (folded)
Seat 8: David8814 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: ggandgl (button) didn't bet (folded)

This just happened last night and was the reason for my post. I played this hand terribly. Just absolutely awful.

Once again, I am out of position. The villain raises UTG+1 after a limper, so he's got some kind of hand. Since I am in the big blind, this is really a spot where I should be re-raising, especially considering if I smooth call, there's a good chance UTG will also call, and then I will have two players to act after me. Instead I call, because my aces are so fucking unbeatable. The flop was a good one for me, but instead of betting out, I check, because I want to be oh so sneaky with my overpair and trap someone with a checkraise. Instead it gets checked around, allowing the two people to act after me to see another card for free so that they can beat me. A ten drops, and again, I check, because I'm a complete idiot who is so sure that my aces are the best hand ever. When the villain bets out, I'm convinced that my aces are best, and he's just trying to take down the pot, so I finally unleash my dangerous check-raise. When he re-raises me huge, I don't even consider that I might be beat, because my aces have to be good. And so I get stacked. Bad.

Awful, awful, awful, awful play. It just makes me mad to look at it.

Looking at the other five hands that I lost with, the common theme in all of them is me trying to outplay multiple opponents, sometimes in position, sometimes out of position. Because I'm so worried about scaring off opponents and not getting paid off, I end up losing big hands because I can't get my head out of my ass and think that maybe, just maybe someone can beat an overpair. But, on top of that, because of my crappy hesitant play, I never extract maximum value from the hands I do win.

Some disturbing stats:

Biggest BB loss with Aces: 49.35
Biggest BB win with Aces: 18.55
Win % with Aces: 68.18%
Net $ with Aces: ($64.05)

Disgusting. I lost a 50 big bet hand with Aces, and yet my biggest win is a mere 18 big bets. I am only winning with aces 70% of the time. Now, we all can't be like this guy and win with aces every time, but I guarantee you that a large reason why he is undefeated with aces in his cash game is because he plays them correctly. I actually lose money with aces. Lose money. With the best starting hand in Hold 'Em. That's very, very bad.

It seems to be isolated with Aces. With Kings I win 83% of the time, and I'm profitable. I'd be more profitable, but I got stacked running Kings into Aces one hand. Queens win 80% of the time, and is my most profitable hand. AKo I win with 74% of the time, also very profitable. TT, JJ, and 99 round out the top 6, all hands that you should be winning with. The reason I do well with those hands is because I know that they're not unbeatable, and I play them as such. But for whatever reason, I get it in my head that Aces are the be all end all hand in poker, like I'm automatically going to win, so I overplay them constantly and get my ass kicked because of it.

I also believe this is isolated to cash games. I have about 12,000 tournament hands logged, and looking at the numbers, I win with KK 88.71% of the time, to the tune of 5.82 BB/Hand. Second on that list? Aces, which I win with 85.71% of the time and 4.15 BB/Hand. I think this is because in a tournament game, one hand is not going to win me or lose me a certain dollar amount. They're just chips, so I don't get all up in arms about how to play the hand.

This is all a bit frustrating for me, because it's a mental hurdle I need to overcome. I need to get over this idea of it being a cash game, and play my strong hands strongly. That's not to say there aren't times where it's appropriate to trap, but an overpair is generally not the correct situation.

Otherwise I can just stick to playing 65s, since I currently win more often with that hand than I do with aces.

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