You Need to Fold Pocket Kings Preflop in This ONE Situation

Fold Pocket Kings Preflop
Something that people ask me all the time is if you should ever fold pockets kings preflop in poker.

So here is the short answer:

Yes, you should fold pocket kings preflop on a few rare occasions with 100 big blind stack sizes in a full ring poker game versus a 4Bet when all of the action is in early position. In a 6max poker game you should never fold pocket kings preflop for 100 big blinds. If the stacks are really deep such as 200 big blinds or more, then you need to fold pocket kings preflop a bit more often.

But this a fairly vague answer and it really depends on the players involved in the hand as well.

Also, there is one particular spot that you absolutely need to know about when it is correct to fold your pocket kings.

I am going to explain it all below. Let's get to it!

1. Fold Pocket Kings Preflop in Full Ring, Don't Fold Them in 6-Max

First let me give you a general rule that I use these days. And that is I don't fold pocket kings for 100 big blinds before the flop in a 6max game, but I will consider it in full ring.

Full ring by the way is a 9 or 10 player table. You will find these games a lot online and they are even more common if you play live poker at a casino.

There are a few reasons for this rule of mine.

Firstly, in a 9 or 10 handed poker game there is a much higher chance that somebody has pocket aces when you have pocket kings compared to a 6max game.

The odds of somebody having pocket AA when you have pocket KK in a full ring game is 4.32%. However, in a 6 person poker game the odds drop sharply to only 2.88%.


The reasons for this are pretty simple of course. More people at the poker table means more opportunities for somebody to have the one hand that beats your cowboys.

So as a general rule I am just not going to be finding a fold before the flop with pocket kings in a 6max poker game, but I will think about it in a full ring game.

2. Fold KK Preflop? Early Position Action is the Key

Another very important thing that I consider when thinking about folding pocket kings preflop is where the action in the hand is.

Now what do I mean by "action in the hand" you might be asking. What I mean by this is what positions at the poker table did the raise, re-raise and so on come from.

You see, there is a huge difference between a raise and a re-raise in early position in poker (the seats directly to the left of the blinds) versus a raise and re-raise from the button and the blinds.

Fold Pocket Kings Preflop

The reason why is because people tend to have their strongest ranges from early position and therefore they will only re-raise with a really strong range as well.

For instance, if you have read my first book Crushing the Microstakes then you will know that in the starting hand chart on page 66 I recommend that you play at least 3 times as many hands from late position compared to early position.

So the exact reverse thinking often happens when somebody raises on the button. The blinds will both assume that the button is just stealing (which is a pretty good assumption).

Therefore, they will be much more likely to 3Bet and 4Bet light which I also suggest that you do in the book as well.

So as you can probably imagine I will be way more likely to consider folding pocket kings preflop when all of the action comes in early position.

In a late position battle on the other hand, I will pretty much never even think about folding pocket kings preflop regardless of whether it is full ring or 6max.

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3. Fold KK Preflop? The 4Bet is Always Aces

The next piece of the puzzle for potentially folding pocket kings preflop is whether I am facing a 3Bet or a 4Bet.

There is an old saying in poker that "the 4Bet is always aces." This isn't actually true in most cases anymore but it is still a valid statement in so far as a 4Bet is a very, very strong play.

First off though, you might be asking yourself what the heck is a 4Bet?

Well let me explain in some simple language:
  • Preflop Limp = 1Bet
  • Preflop Raise = 2Bet
  • Preflop Re-Raise = 3Bet
  • Preflop Re-Re-Raise = 4Bet

Although it is a bit weird, this is the terminology that we use in poker to describe various preflop actions. So a 4Bet is when somebody raises preflop, then somebody else re-raises, and then it is re-raised once again.

This is a very critical bet in poker because with 100 big blind stacks a 4Bet typically equates to about 20% to 25% of your stack. It is tough to put this much in and still get away after the flop.

So a 4Bet is essentially a "I mean business, we are playing for all the chips" kind of bet.

Again, it doesn't always mean pocket aces these days but for 99% of players in a small stakes poker game, a 4Bet is a very strong hand.

A 3Bet on the other hand can be a much wider range of hands such as:
  • Any big ace
  • Any broadway
  • Big pairs
  • Middle pairs
  • Small pairs
  • Suited connectors
  • Suited aces

I think you get the idea. I will never fold pocket kings preflop to a 3Bet in a million years. Only versus a 4Bet will I ever consider it.

4. Fold Pocket Kings Versus Weak Tight Players

The last "clue" that I look for when considering whether or not to fold pocket kings preflop is the player type. This is always a crucial factor in any poker decision that I make. And it is even more important here.

Put simply, I am only ever going to consider ditching my cowboys preflop versus a weak tight poker player.

This is somebody with HUD stats that look like this in full ring:

13/10/2 with a 3Bet% of 5 and a 4Bet ratio of 1

I don't really have the space in this article to get into the meaning of all these different HUD stats so if you don't know what they mean I would recommend reading my guide to the best HUD stats.

In plain English though what these numbers indicate is a tight and risk averse player who only puts in a significant amount of money before the flop with a very, very strong hand.

Versus any kind of loose and aggressive player or recreational fish I am never even going to think about folding pocket KK preflop.

It has to be versus this one specific weak tight poker player type.

Fold Pocket Kings Preflop in This One Situation

Ok, so let's finally get to the one spot where you absolutely should be folding your pocket kings preflop in a low stakes poker game.

And this is best explained in a video:

So in this hand we have all of the clues listed above for folding pocket kings preflop.

1. It is a full ring cash game and the effective stack sizes are 100bb.

2. All of the action takes place in early position.

3. We are facing a cold 4Bet

And the final clue about only folding pocket kings preflop versus weak tight players was confirmed in the YouTube comments by the person who sent me this hand.

The player who made the 4Bet in this hand was indeed a 9/8 which is absurdly tight even for full ring.

Deep Stacked Folding KK Preflop

There is one final consideration for if you should ever fold your pocket kings preflop. And that is when it is deep stacked.  By this I mean when the effective stack sizes are 200 big blinds or more.

This is a situation where you absolutely have to be folding kk preflop a little bit more often. You can't be throwing this many big blinds in the middle unless you are very certain that the player has a wide range.

This is why in deep stacked poker it is best to just call the 4Bet anyways though. There is absolutely no need to ever put in the 5Bet or 6Bet. Just call the 4Bet and with 200bb+ stacks you have tons of room to play poker after the flop.

For much more on playing deep stacked poker, Phil Ivey talks about the strategy in much more detail in his new poker training course.

Final Thoughts

So to answer the age old question of whether or not you should ever fold pocket kings preflop in poker the answer is yes, but only on very rare occasions.

And honestly, if you just want to go ahead and never ever fold KK preflop, you probably couldn't go wrong. The whole point of this article was to possibly find a little tiny extra edge at the tables.

First off, I am really only ever going to consider it in a full ring game when all of the action is in early position as well. Furthermore, with 100bb stacks I need to be facing a 4Bet from a weak tight player.

If the stacks are super deep like 200bb+ I will typically just call the preflop 4Bet and then proceed to play poker after the flop since there is so much more room to work with.

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Have you ever folded pocket kings preflop before? Was it the right decision?

when to fold pocket kings preflop


  1. Nathan, I have a random Q for you. The site I play on is insanely aggressive. There is a preflop 3-bet around 60% of the time and preflop 4-betting roughly 30% of all hands. How would you adjust? I am just really tightening up my ranges. Would you do this same? If so, how tight would you open?


    1. Ya that's easy, just tighten up. Everybody gets dealt the same cards in this game no matter how aggro they are.

    2. If people are seriously 3betting 60%, that is like a really loose button open range, than you need to be 4betting, FOR VALUE, way wider. Essentially you could 4b a range similar to a SB or BB 3b range versus a BU open. I would seriously consider 4b any suited A, suited Broadways 99+ maybe even 88. AQo maybe AJo or KQo. That is such an insanely wide 3b range. What site is it? What stakes? I want to play there if this is true

    3. I also meant to add, you should go for wider value overall versus LAGs and even more importantly, be prepared to make wide call-downs with hands like top pair as well.

      There are no numbers that you must follow. It's just an adjustment that you learn to make versus aggressive players which you learn through experience.

      Check out my article on how to play versus highly aggressive players for more:

    4. @Jon Sweet - I don't think he means an individual player is 3B 60%, I think he means on 60% of the hands *someone* three bets.
      so in 6-max, there would be a 3 Bet every 3.6 hands
      it would be more like *every player* has a 3B of 10%
      (or the average player is 3B 10%)

      but I could be wrong . . .

  2. I had a situation where I overplayed KK badly just a few days ago. It was an NL 100 cash game in Manila, typical loose-passive table. I was sitting on 300bb and a solid table image. I open 3x with KK in the MP and get raised from the HJ who has about 85bb. It’s folded to me and I jam without thinking twice, he calls with AA.
    I think there are few reasons why it was a mistake. Firstly, at that table you would see a preflop raise once in 20 minutes, mostly from me, and a 3-bet like once in 1,5 hours (mostly from me). Secondly, a 3-bettor was on a brighter side of the field, but pretty straightforward, and him raising my MP open with a few players left to act means at least JJ or AK, not even AQ and never any goofball or fancy GTO stuff like A3 or whatever they tell you is a good 3-bet bluffing hand is these days.
    My shove would make this guy fold everything except for the exact hand he was holding, he would probably be able to get away from QQ here.
    Against a few fish at the table jam would make sense, especially because they were all playing short stacks, I might easily get called by worse.
    So I think the play against this guy should have been flatting and playing some flops.

  3. You are overthinking it. There is no way you could get away from that situation even just calling that. The possibility that he has ace ace is lower then him getting trips or any other hand that beats your hand. You wouldn’t know how to proceed anyway not after the flop not after the river. You just got unlucky.lets say you have the AA and he called a 4bet the flop is 10 q j and he goes all in. If you would call that then you need to call this one 5 times more often