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Texas Hold'em Strategy: Playing Aces in Pot Limit Hold'em

Pot limit hold'em is considered by some to be the most skillful and challenging form of Texas Holdem poker. Some players complain about fixed limit poker because they feel it is impossible to protect their hand, since they cannot make large bets to put their opponents to difficult decisions. Others complain that in no limit poker, players are too eager to move their chips all in pre-flop, and it is difficult to play much real poker. Pot limit gets around these problems with pot sized bets that make it safe to see flops, but also allow players to bet aggressively.

In any form of Texas hold'em, the question arises: How to play pocket aces? Pocket aces are the best hand you can be dealt in hold'em. Unfortunately, they are also the least likely hand to improve in a profitable way. Aces are a big favorite over any other hand pre-flop; after the flop, anything can happen. There is more than one Texas Holdem strategy for how to play Aces depending on the betting structure. Here are a couple:

For instance: in no limit Texas Hold em, a large pre-flop bet can force out all the hands that can cause big trouble for aces. A large bet on a non-threatening flop can prevent anyone from drawing out on your aces. In pot limit hold'em, things are a bit different. Since you can only bet the size of the pot, it is hard for you with your aces to force out tricky drawing hands that can beat you for a big pot. Furthermore, everyone who calls you pot sized pre-flop bet makes it more profitable for subsequent hands to call and try to draw out on you.

For this reason, it is often correct to limp in with aces in the hopes of making a check raise. Once one or more players have limped, the pot is now large enough that a pot sized raise will make speculative hands reluctant to call. Furthermore, even if it is limped around, you have more options on the flop since the pot is still small. You can make a value bet if you like the flop, but will not feel committed to the hand if you face a bet or raise that suggests someone has drawn out on you.

Remember that ultimately a pair of aces is just one pair. It is often strong enough to win against a small field, but there will be many times when an opponent makes a hand big enough to beat you. Being able to lay down aces in that circumstance is the hallmark of a winning player.

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