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Poker Strategy -- Andrew Brokos Talks About Aces

Brokos Does a Year-End Review Video for Card Player Pro


Andrew BrokosAndrew “Foucault” Brokos is a lead instructor for Card Player Pro, a video training site (powered by PokerSavvy Plus), and at the culmination of 2009, Brokos filmed a special year-end high-stakes review for Card Player Pro members. He took a look at his year online, focusing on his $10-$20 no-limit hold’em six-handed results, and he analyzed the largest pots he’d won and lost. Brokos recognizes the importance of taking a look back at the numbers over the course of year, but stresses the fact that one should not be overly focused on results over a certain amount of time.

After filtering his database to show his biggest hands won at tables with exactly six players and effective stacks of more than 100 big blinds at $10-$20 no-limit hold’em, Brokos found that five out of his six biggest winning hands were with pocket aces and kings, with the top three being aces. In the video, he brings up myths about playing big hands like this, and also analyzes his biggest pot won.

“Three of the six were all in preflop. There is kind of a stereotype, or cliché, that you have probably heard before — you either win a small pot or lose a big one when you have pocket aces. I think that’s really only true if you suck at balancing your ranges. Aces, obviously, are the nuts preflop, but even post-flop, it can be a very strong hand. It is true, but I think that cliché was more popular 15 or 20 years ago when people didn’t understand concepts like range balancing nearly as well.

You need to play in such a way that you’re not overplaying your aces or you have enough bluffs in your range and that you’re aggressive enough that people are willing to get it in preflop against you with a range of hands. Or even on the flop, sometimes, it’s possible for you to get the money in with pocket aces and still be ahead, even when you’re deep. That can be the case if you play aggressively enough. If it’s true for you that you only win small pots with your pocket aces, what that tells me is probably that you are too tight. You don’t bluff enough when you don’t have pocket aces so that the times you do have pocket aces, no one gives you action unless they’ve outflopped aces.”

Review of the Hand:

Stakes: $10-$20 with a $3 ante

Stack Sizes:
Villain 1 — $4,567 — Cutoff
Villain 2 — $2,352.40 — Button
Villain 3 — $3,984 — Small blind
Brokos — $6,523.90 — Big blind

Preflop Action Begins: The first two players to act fold. Villain 1 raises to $40 with KDiamond Suit KHeart Suit. Villain 2 calls, and Villain 3 folds. Brokos reraises to $200 with ADiamond Suit AHeart Suit.

Andrew Brokos: Look at my raise-sizing here. We’ve got this guy [Villain 1] raising to $40, we’ve got a call [from Villain 2] and then I’m making it $200 here with my pocket aces. This is something that’s really important. I think a lot of people, when they make a squeeze-play, especially from out of position, they don’t choose their raise size very intelligently. I think it’s really important, especially here because we’re deep and because there are antes out there, to jack it up really high. I’m going to squeeze a ton in this spot. This is one of those cases where pocket aces is obviously the nuts anyway, but even if I had like pocket queens here, I would consider it a very strong hand, even for 200 big blinds deep. I think I can probably get it in profitably with queens or with A-K, and the reason for that is I’m going to be making this squeeze-play with a ton of stuff. Obviously aces is at the top of my range.

Here I make it $200, five times the opening raise. The larger the squeeze-size is, the more likely it is to induce either a reraise or a fold from your opponents. If I raise here only to $120, I’m pretty much never going to get a fold, I’m going to get a lot of calls, and sometimes I’m going to get three-bet. If I go to $200, I’m going to get a lot of folds, and a lot of three-bets, and not a lot of cold calls. That’s usually the response I want when I’m making a squeeze-play. That’s kind of true no matter what my hands is. If I have pocket aces, obviously I want my opponents to reraise more often. Even with five percent of the effective stacks going in preflop, I’d really rather get three-bet than just called.

Here, if I get called by Villain 1, I’m probably getting called by Villain 2, as well. Then I’m going to be playing a three-way pot, out of position, with still a lot of money left behind. I mean, there will be $600 in the pot, but there is still going to be, at least for me and Villain 1, more than $4,000 left in the effective stacks. So the stack-to-pot ratio is still only going to be 7-to-1 in a situation where I’ve kind of already indicated that I might have a big hand. It’s really not a fantastic spot to be in. I’d much rather get three-bet here.

I think sometimes people are tempted with their aces to make a really small squeeze-play if they are squeezing or reraising. I think that’s kind of a mistake. Pocket aces is not the nuts post-flop. Not that it’s not still a strong hand, but when there’s a lot of money in play, you really want to get a lot of money in preflop with your aces. You should be squeezing here with a pretty wide range. Even if it means I might not get to see the flop, I’m going to get three-bet more often, and I’m also going to get more folds if my bluff three-bets or my bluff squeeze plays are raised to 5×. So, that’s the standard amount that I use, especially when the preflop raiser is opening for a min-raise.

Card Player Pro

Preflop Action Continues: Villain 1 reraises to $500. Villain 2 folds, and Brokos reraises to $1,336. Villain 1 moves all in for $4,567, and Brokos calls.

AB: He raises me back with pocket kings, and it’s still very standard and something that I would expect him to do quite often as a bluff, as well. It’s a really good spot for him, because I’m squeezing here so much, it’s a great spot for him to make a small four-bet. But, on the other hand, I’m going to be getting decent pot odds to call the four-bet with whatever hand I three-bet. At the same time, I’m going to be forced to play out of position with a lot of money still behind, and I’m not going to have the betting impetus. This is a nice spot for him to make a small four-bet, and I think he’s going to have some decent fold equity, so if I had a hand here like A-7 offsuit, or K-10 offsuit, I’m probably folding those hands to this small three-bet, because they are very tricky to play out of position without the betting impetus.

So again, this is a nice spot for him to four-bet, certainly with kings, and like I said, if I had a hand like A-K or pocket queens here, I’m going to play it like the nuts. Once again, all the more reason for him to fast-play his kings. I think this is a really bad spot for him to flat-call with kings, because I’m going to give him a lot of action. I know that this is a good spot for him to four-bet as a bluff, and that means I’m going to five-bet at him sometimes as a bluff or at least light value hands that are well behind pocket kings — queens, jacks, A-K. And, if he calls here, Villain 2 is going to come in behind him, and he’s going to be in the same situation with kings that I am with aces, where he’s only got one pair. Most of the time, that’s all he’s ever going to have with his hand; there’s going to be a lot of money behind, and it’s a multi-way pot. It’s really to his best interest to get the money in preflop, so I think it’s good he’s fast-playing his kings here. It sucks for him that he just ran into aces and that we’re really deep. You can see we’re like 240 big blinds deep, or something like that. I managed to fade the king, and that was the biggest pot I won all year at $10-$20, at least with exactly six people at the table.

Result: The board runs out 10Club Suit 2Diamond Suit JDiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit 3Diamond Suit. Brokos wins the pot of $9,205 with an ace-high flush.

Members of Card Player Pro can view Brokos’ high-stakes review videos. For non-members, the site offers a seven-day free trial.