How To Play An “AQ” Starting Hand In Poker
People play their poker in different ways, and that’s fine. However there are players who think that raising pre-flop with a hand of “AQ” in Texas Hold’em Poker is not a good move, especially if they feel it will not cut down the size of the field. Players are hoping for a miracle flop which gives them the nuts. But what this does is show that the player does not understand what value in poker is, and the player has an inflexibility that can prove to be costly since every game is different.
There are many different starting hands in poker, and despite what Doyle Brunson said about AQ being the worst hand in poker, AQ is a good hand to look down on when you pick your cards up. These days you would have to be ignorant of the order of winning poker hands not to see the advantages of a hand like this.
In most situations there are lots of reasons why AQ can be a good starting hand worth raising, and here is an example of why that’s the case;
You’re in a game with players who play random speculative hands, let’s say “87 offsuit” or “44”out of position. It would be foolish to let them play just for the price of a blind. From a value point of view alone you need to raise. If the flop comes down “QJ7” or “AT8”, you’d regret not getting the extra chips out of them.
These players would prefer seeing the flop for one bet, especially if they get multiple callers. The reason behind this is that they plan on folding if the flop is not in their favor. Players who play this kind of game can be called “simple” players since they can’t handle difficult situations, particularly ones where they don’t get a promising hand.
However, math in poker is not that simple. Players don’t need to lead out in order to make money. In five-way action pots, the second favorite will usually end up making a profit. So, if you have, let’s say a 24% chance of winning as an example, you should go ahead and seize that opportunity to make a profit.
Still, not every hand makes money the same way. The fact that one hand wins more often than others does not automatically mean that it is more advantageous. Even some highly speculative hands that usually don’t win at all can win, and they can win a huge pot.
This is the exact reason why hands who win more often than not, but are still weak finishing hands, like “AQ”, want to get more bets before the flop. This will kill the value of speculative hands. It makes sense that a strong hand like “AQ” would want to bet all they can before the flop comes, whereas hands like “87 offsuit” or “J9 suited” want to see the flop for free and still get enough chances to bet after the flop.
You can look at this situation like gold versus silver. The high suited connectors, especially in multiway action games, are like gold, and high unsuited cards are like silver or even copper. Even though gold is better, you just can’t turn down silver when you get it.
In reality, “AQ offsuit” should be one of the best hands in a Limit Texas Hold’em Poker game – you can see that in the order of winning poker hands. However, if you don’t play it wisely, it’s like you’re wasting a crucial resource and there is every chance you will end up losing the pot.
Winning a poker game is not possible by only playing a simple game. To win a poker game, sometimes you need to make winning pots without a starting pair, and also make marginal bets when you have a great hand, no matter how weak you think that hand is on the flop. That’s what makes poker such an interesting game – you need to play both strong hands and hands that require patience and smart play.
So the message here is, even though both of these types of play are required in a poker game, they need to be played in a different way. Two players who have the same chance to win against the other four players need to play completely differently.
You need to bet when a bet is suitable for you. For some hands and situations, that means raising before the flop comes, while for others, it’s playing safe and getting to see the flop cheaply.
So what makes the situation different? When do you raise a little, a lot or more? These things depend on the classic issues of poker. Position, your chip stack, the chip stack size of your opponents who have already called, the potential callers ahead of you and the character of the other players and your evaluation how they are likely to respond to what you do.
Every game is different and every table you play at and every player you play against will be different. Its your evaluation of each all of the factors which go into a game which determine your action, always keeping in mind Texas holdem winning hands.. But as we stated above, from a value point of view you must raise.
The question every one asks is how much to raise by? This is a good question. Because at the end of the day you might not win the hand even though you have a good hand to start with. You want to raise enough to put off any ridiculous hands staying in the game, but not so much that your chip stack is compromised if you lose.
As mentioned above, your raise depends table position, blind level, relative stack sizes, playing style and even your image on the table. However, a good guide is 3X the blind level, although if there are a number of players already in the hand you can make it 2/3 of the pot.
Early in a tournament game though you might feel it’s different. This is where poker gets complicated. If the blinds are very low, you may feel to get anyone to fold that you have to raise proportionally very high, but this can expose you to significant early losses if you lose. In this situation a simple 3x raise is a good start but play the flop, turn river very carefully with an aim of not losing too much. This is the time in the game when those marginal hands might catch you out.
Later in a tournament game or if you are short of chips, you might not bother with a raise but go all-in and hope to take the blinds without a fight or else to have a better hand than a caller. These decisions take thousands of games and years to get right. Keep trying though and it will be ok in the end!!
Whichever style of play you prefer, you must remember the Texas holdem hand rankings and that you can’t ignore silver -ie AQ just because it’s not gold, or put another way, you can’t ignore an “AQ” hand just because it’s not “AA”.