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Fold Pocket Kings Online?

Get it all in with pocket kings, baby!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Oct 15, 2010


Phil HellmuthI recently hosted the championship event in a series of 18 online poker tournaments called UBOC 5 (UltimateBet Online Championships) at The championship event was a $1,000 buy-in tournament with a $1 million-guaranteed prize pool, and the players started with 10,000 in chips.

Relatively early in the tournament, with the blinds at 40-80, I picked up K-K in first position and opted to smooth-call 80. One other player called, and then the player in the big blind, seated directly on my right, raised it to 260 to go. I reraised to 660 to go — letting the cat out of the bag. The other player folded, and the player in the big blind hit it again, making it 2,020 to go. I then reraised it to 3,480 to go, and my opponent moved all in for his entire 12,400. I had started the hand with 9,360, and I immediately called off all of my remaining chips. I wasn’t too surprised when he showed me A-A, but before I had a chance to fully realize that I was about a 4.5-1 underdog to win the pot, the flop came down K-10-8. I had flopped top set! And when the last two cards were a 4 and a 10, I won a pot of about 18,800. I won the chips, but how had I played the hand?

My preflop smooth-call of 80 with K-K is OK with me. About 70 percent of the time, I raise with K-K or A-A preflop, but occasionally I limp in. One reason I limped was because it appeared that the players at my table were playing pretty tight poker, as they were folding a lot when someone raised preflop. My thought process was this: “If I raise, I’d hate to win only the blinds with my K-K. So, I will limp in and gamble that I can win a bigger pot by letting some players take a flop with me.” Limping with K-K is a risky play. For the record, when you limp with K-K, most of the time when the pot gets bigger than 100 big blinds in size on the flop, turn, and river, you have the losing hand. Most of the time when the pot is smaller than 60 big blinds on the flop, turn, and river, you have the winning hand. So, be careful not to lose too many chips when you limp in with K-K.

The big blind’s raise of 180 (to 260) into a 280 pot with A-A is standard. My three-bet to 660 was OK, or I could have just called, but I like the reraise. The reraise allows my opponent to overplay Q-Q, J-J, or A-K, or to bluff. His four-bet reraise of 1,360 (to 2,020) into a 1,440 pot was OK. The new Internet standard raise would be about 70 percent of the pot (about 1,000), but I like the fact that my opponent put in more money, because he now knew that this was a hand that he would have to go with on the flop — no matter what the flop was. My minimum-raise five-bet (to 3,480) was OK with me: I wanted to give my opponent a chance to get it all in preflop, in case he thought I was bluffing or just had a wild hair (we all get a little crazy sometimes!). His all-in six-bet was pretty standard, but could I have folded my hand to save my last 5,880? No. In fact, I have never folded K-K in an online tournament, because I know that there are some wild players out there. I would not advise you to fold K-K in an online tournament, unless you have stats on a player, and even if you do have stats, your opponent just may be overplaying A-K or Q-Q.

Get it all in with pocket kings, baby! ♠

Learn more about Phil by going to his website,, and visit his webstore at