Getting Divorced

Folding Aces is sometimes the best play

There’s usually only one moment in a Hold’em hand when A-A is the nuts, and that’s preflop. After the three flop cards are dealt, and unless you hit top set or better on a dry and disconnected board, your pocket rockets are rarely the best possible hand anymore. Accept this fact now and be willing to fold. Don’t get married to big pairs postflop. Be willing to get divorced. Think of the children.

In my experience, most poker players intellectually know the truth about Aces and how vulnerable they are, but in the emotional heat of battle they forget this fact.

Call it wishful thinking.

Call it temporary insanity.

Call it “but I waited all night for Aces” syndrome.

Whatever the phrase, getting married to Aces, Kings, Top Pair-Top Kicker (TPTK), or any other overpair is a very common leak that can cost a lot of money. I see this issue with beginners and intermediate players alike. They have trouble folding pretty hands, and it ends up costing them a lot of money.

A key to winning at poker is learning to read the board,  believing the bets and raises of your opponents if the board connects more with their range than yours, and finding the divorce fold button.

Be willing to separate from an overpair if the situation says you should.

When Divorce is Good For the Children Chips

Let’s say three weak ABC players limp preflop into a pot upstream of you. You’re on the button and look down at two red Aces. You (currently) have the best hand, so you bump it up to 7x the big blind. You do this to build the pot and give a bad price to other players to continue. This is the epitome of a value bet. You’d be fine with taking the pot down now, but callers are welcome, too. You’ve got Aces after all!

After you bet, the blinds fold, but all three upstream limpers call. So far, so good…

…ah, but then the flop comes out 9-8-7. Worse, it’s two-tone black. Yuck. This is (obviously) a wet and coordinated board. And you’re multi-way.

You should be afraid. What kinds of hands did the villain’s limp in preflop and then call a big raise with? Yep, hands that connect with this board.

The first limper thinks for a second and donks into the field with a 2/3 pot-size bet, then the second limper min-raises him. And the third re-raises. The action is now on you.

Yes, you should fold.

These situations suck, but they happen. You’re getting far too much action on a soaked board. There is too strong a chance that your Aces are behind. Yes, a single villain could have JJ or TT and think they are good, but when you’re up against two or more frisky opponents on obvious wet boards, you need to slow down and think about how weak your overpair is.

A donk bet into an aggressive preflop bettor (you the Hero) is the danger sign. Then a min-reraise by Villain #2 (who seems not to care he’s sandwiched here and the action may not close out) on this board should have the warning bells going off like the bells of Notre Dame in your head.  The third raise then seals the deal. There is too great a chance you’re beaten.

How likely is it one of these guys could have something like JT for the straight? 65? 98 for a top two? How about 99, 88, or 77?

Answer: very likely.

So find that fold button, folks. As Mr. Multi likes to say to me, “Aces are just a pair, Bug. Fold.”

There once was an old Full Tilt television advertisement featuring Daniel Negreanu where he folds Kings when the board comes out scary and somebody donks into the field. He tosses his cowboys into the muck. He does so without regret. You need to learn to do the same. Remember, folding is always a zero expected value play. It literally costs you nothing to fold. So fold!

Bottom Line: Be Willing and Ready to Divorce Overpairs.


Exceptional Poker — Learn. Master. Crush.

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