Now right away you are going to say, “Give me the ace-king any day of the week!” Well, sometimes I might agree, but statistically speaking, any pair is better than ace-king. Now if it is ace-king suited, that is a different story. But in the end, any pair will have slightly better odds at winning a hand. I am not suggesting that ace-king doesn’t rule! I am merely saying that “statistically speaking,” you have begun your hand with a pair, and it is better than not having one in the first place, that is why pairs are better starting hands. Many will say I am crazy, but the truth is in the math.
How many cards in a deck? If you don’t know that, lawn darts is probably a better game suited for you. Of course it is 52 cards! If you take the 2 deuces (with 50 cards remaining), you will have 5 shots at catching one (or both) of the other 2 on the flop, 4th street and the river. Remember now, there are 13 sets of four cards. So in the case of the ace-king, you will have 6 shots at catching the 3 aces and the 3 kings. Wouldn’t that prove the odds are better for the ace-king? The answer is both yes, and no.
You can go online to several “poker calculators” and make your own hands up. If you are using a poker calculator with a smaller table of 5 or 6, the ace-king prevails as a better starting hand at about 33% over the deuces at 22% of winning the hand. But once you stretch out the table to the regulation of 10 players, the odds drop significantly, giving the pair the edge over the ace-king. Now having ace-king suited improves your odds of winning the hand because now a flush is in the mix. This doesn’t necessarily mean shoving all of your hard earned dollars to the middle now. Many times I’ve seen (and personally suffered) when going all-in with ace-king and losing to a smaller pair. You need to be strategic when playing 365bet and other poker games.
We also have to remember that not all the cards are being dealt. Several players will perhaps have one, or both of your cards. That can be a huge problem. Now if you are the one with the 2’s and someone in front of you makes a significant raise, you may think about folding. If it is a small raise, stick around and see what might happen. Now you may be going up against a much bigger issue….a high pair, like aces or kings. Then death is most likely the best way out. Just stick one of those deuces in your neck.
This leads me to another great quandary. How can you read another player’s bets by how they are betting? I see it all of the time where there’s a raise in pre-flop, and then a check after the flop by that same player. You may think this is a “trap.” “Trapping” a player is usually making them think they didn’t catch anything and they check, hoping the other players will bet, where he can pounce on them with a huge raise. But there are times when you can tell when someone has “only” ace-king. They flounder a little in their wagering. You can feel a little lack of confidence, especially when you don’t see an ace or a king on the table. They may even bet, thinking you will fold, but when you call, the next bet is smaller, or there is no bet at all. That is when you move in for the kill.