MCU poker tip: Difference between aces and kings

In hold ’em, you hear a lot of talk about aces and kings being the ultimate hands. That’s true, but don’t be too quick to put them in the same category, as many players do. A pair of aces before the flop logically belongs in a category all to itself.

The wrong difference

Here’s how often each hand wins against nine opponents holding random hands when everyone stays to the river…

A-A = 31% (21 percentage points higher than a fair share)

K-K = 26% (16 percentage points higher than a fair share)

But there’s more to this comparison than just dealing the outcomes and finding the winner in a showdown. In fact, the real difference is startling.

The right difference

What really makes the difference is that, when you consider actual betting strategy, A-A is much more likely to gain extra bets and to stay out of trouble. For this reason, aces average about 40 percent more profit and — in the hands of a professional — A-A sometimes can be almost twice as profitable as K-K overall in a full-handed game.

That’s something to keep in mind whenever you’re dealt aces or kings pre-flop in hold ’em. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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  1. I’ve noticed that most of the time when there is a big raise preflop (in N/L) followed by a big reraise, it’s KK vs AA. And usually the big reraise will have the AA.

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