Tip 25

For this example, we assume that four or more players are in the hand, and that the flop is A-9-3 of three suits.  With no legitimate draws present, in all likelihood the best hand on the flop will win this pot.

  If you are first to act, or if the action has been checked to you, you should bet if you hold an ace in your hand.  You probably have the best hand, and you don’t wish to give players holding hands like T-9 a free opportunity to draw out (improve against your better hand).

  When there is a bet to you, you should raise with either A-K or A-Q.  Only a few reasonable hands beat A-K or A-Q here (A-A, 9-9, 3-3, A-9, and A-3), so there is an excellent chance you hold the best hand.  It is important to play aggressively, to maximize your profit from the hand.  This is also a case in which many inferior hands (particularly any ace with a smaller kicker) will likely pay you off, so raising for value is a good strategy here.

  What if you are the one holding the weak ace? We hope this means you are in the blind, not that you had a momentary breakdown in your starting hand standards.  If there is a bet to you and your hand is, say, A-7, you hold enough to call but not enough to raise.  One of the main arguments against calling (as opposed to raising in general is that it gives your opponents the opportunity to draw out on you for free.  However, given this board, your A-7 is highly likely to hold up if it is in fact the best hand.  There are no overcards to an ace, or are there flush and straight draws present.  So, calling is not that dangerous here.  By calling, you lose less money when you hold the worst hand, and probably win the same amount when your hand is good (since a raise on your part will tend to “shut down” an opponent holding a worse hand).

  Sometimes there will be a bet and a raise before the action ever gets to you.  In this situation, either one or both players hold a pair of aces or better, so you must proceed with extreme caution.  There is very little chance that an ace with a poor kicker is the best hand here, and about the best you can hope for is to get out with a split.  So, you should tend to fold in this spot unless you hold A-Q or better.