Handling extraordinary spots in a poker Part 1: Folding Pocket Aces

For 90% of your decisions there is generally a clear-cut answer on the correct play, and a consensus is usually easy to arrive at. For 9.99% the answer is usually debatable, with case being made for a multitude of different lines. For the remaining .01% of decisions, the extraordinary decisions we sometimes have to make, the answer is far more complicated and usually goes against everything we have been taught as poker players. Sometimes these decisions are even “wrong” from a long-term EV standpoint.

Even though these situations do not come about all that often, when they do it is usually in a key spot, with a lot riding on it; otherwise the decision wouldn’t be all that extraordinary now would it! In this 2-part series my focus will be on these situations and detail why it’s sometimes correct to fold Pocket Aces or with a Ten-high.

Folding Pocket Aces pre-flop

The age old forum question of, “Would you ever fold Pocket Aces pre-flop?” has been discussed for years. With so much time and discussion devoted to this seemingly once-in-a-lifetime scenario you might think it is more an exercise in micromanaging than in solving any real-world poker problem. That being said, the one time that you may find yourself pondering folding Pocket Aces pre-flop will be when the decision is incredibly important, so it shouldn’t be seen as a useless exercise: What you eat for breakfast is a decision you make every day, but it pales in comparison to something like who you marry –a decision you make only once… ok sometimes two, three or four times!

So when you do find yourself in a spot where folding Pocket Aces is correct you better not screw it up!

Life-Changing money

People will often say that if the money means that much to you than you shouldn’t be playing in the game. But there are times where we find ourselves in a situation where life-changing money is on the line; not because we risked too much to buy-in, but because we lucked into the situation.

For instance, there was an episode of the PokerStars Big Game where the “Loose Cannon” (the amateur player chosen by the show that is staked $100,000 and can keep any profits) was up $150,000 and folded Pocket Aces pre-flop. Now, you might be thinking, “What are you doing!?!?!?!” but for a person who makes $40,000 a year a guaranteed $150,000 windfall is far more important than potentially losing it all or doubling it; this is life-changing money.

Satellite bubble situation

Another situation where folding Pocket Aces pre-flop is the “correct” play is when you are virtually assured a satellite seat. Suppose there are 10 WSOP Main Event seats up for grabs in a satellite and there are 11 players left. Four players have only a couple of blinds each (say between 500 and 1,000 chips with blinds of 100/200) and you are second in chips with 9,000 chips. In this case you should just fold every single hand, Pocket Aces or not. You can’t win a better seat, and where you finish (1st through 10th) makes zero difference.

In Part 2 of this series I’ll take a look at anther rare situation in poker: Hero Calls and Hero Folds

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  • Posted in: Poker, Poker Strategy & Tips
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