How to Play Small Suited Aces - This Might Shock You

How to Play Small Suited Aces
People often ask me how to play suited aces in poker. And this is because they are tricky hands to play, you often don't really know where you are at in the hand.

And just to be clear in this article when I am talking about suited aces I mean hands like:

A7
A6
A5
A4

I am NOT talking about big suited aces in this article like:

AK
AQ

Because after all, these hands are much easier to play. They have a strong kicker and if you hit top pair you are often going to wind up having the best hand.

Small suited aces though are very powerful hands and they are often misunderstood. So in this article I am going to break it all down for you step by step.

Here is how to play your small suited aces, the definitive guide!


1. Don't Limp! Be Aggressive With Your Small Suited Aces


So let's start by talking about how to play suited aces preflop. One of the absolute biggest mistakes that I see people making is playing them passively before the flop.

They will limp into the pot or just complete or check if it is limped around to them in the blinds. This is a serious mistake and causes you to lose tons of value with your small suited aces.

The first reason why limping with suited aces is a mistake is because it is simply a proven fact that raising and taking control of the pot is more profitable.

And as always, you don't even have to take my word for it.

You can go into your PokerTracker database right now, filter for small suited aces, and check your profits when you limp verses raise preflop with these hands.



As long as you have a reasonable sample size I can all but guarantee that you are making a lot more money with your small suited aces when you raise with them.

But there is an even more important reason why I love to raise or even re-raise with suited aces. And this is because they have excellent card removal and tons of postflop equity versus big pairs.

What do I mean by "card removal"?

I mean that when you have an ace in your hand it just makes it statistically less likely that somebody else has one as well.

So this skews their range more towards hands like pocket pairs (99, TT, JJ) and broadways (KQ, KJ, QJ). And your suited ace has good postflop equity versus all of these hands.

Versus a broadway hand a suited ace is actually the favorite preflop.

How to Play Small Suited Aces

And even versus a premium pocket pair, our little suited ace still has plenty of equity.

How to Play Small Suited Aces

So this is why small suited aces are some of my all-time favorite hands to raise or even re-raise with preflop. If you are looking to work more light 3bets into your game, suited aces are an excellent option.

By the way, it is really important that you know the equity in many situations like this by heart. This is why I suggest studying some quality poker charts to make sure that you know the odds in these common scenarios by memory. 


2. Play Your Suited Aces Aggressively Postflop


As I talk about all the time on this blog and in my poker strategy books, aggressive poker is winning poker in most situations. I think a lot of people, especially at the lower stakes, just play way too passively overall.

And this really ends up hurting their winrate because they simply aren't winning enough hands without showdown. Or to use online poker jargon, their "red line" sucks.

By the way, you can read my complete guide to improving your red line right here.




Anyways, one of the absolute best ways to start improving those non-showdown winnings of yours, and get that red line on your graph going in the right direction, is to semi-bluff more often.

And guess which grouping of hands is one of the absolute best to do this with? Yup, you guessed it, small suited aces!

Small suited aces are excellent hands to barrel or bluff-raise with postflop because they often have good backdoor equity and fold equity.

For example, consider this situation where you catch a backdoor flush and backdoor straight draw on the flop with one over-card versus a top pair hand:

How to Play Small Suited Aces Postflop

Now one the face of it, 19% isn't exactly amazing equity, but let's think about this hand a little bit deeper.

As I discuss at length in The Micro Stakes Playbook you can easily use scare cards on the turn and/or river to continue barreling and get a weak top pair hand like this to lay it down.

For example if the turn were to come:

Q

and the river:

K

There is no way this top pair hand is going to be able to call us down. Do you see now the incredible opportunity that we have to take this pot away by simply being aggressive?

Remember that even if we run into the world's biggest calling station, we still have that 19% backdoor equity in our pocket as well.

So one of my best recommendations for playing small suited aces after the flop is to simply play them more aggressively especially when you pick up scare cards or more equity on the turn.

If you are the preflop caller with a small suited ace (as will happen sometimes), then you should also float widely in position and attempt to take away the pot on later streets.

Once again, I have already written a complete guide for you on how to float the flop as the preflop caller and take the pot away on later streets.

You can find that right here.


3. Don't Go Crazy If You Hit Top Pair With Your Suited Ace!


Another big mistake that I see people making with small suited aces is playing a really big pot when they hit their top pair. 

Remember guys, your kicker is only mediocre at best!

Just because we have some "card removal" does not mean that it is impossible that somebody else has you out-kicked with a better ace.

This is why I prefer to play my small suited aces more aggressively when I only have something like a backdoor draw like we saw in the previous example.

Because in a spot like this we are really just trying to get them to fold. Sure, we have some equity as we discussed but the best case scenario is simply getting them to fold.

However, when we actually have a made hand like top pair the situation is completely different because we have tons of showdown value.


Here's An Example:

We have A4 and the flop comes:

A93

We don't want to go crazy on this board by barreling or raising because we will often only get action from hands that beat us like a better ace.

This is why it is actually better to play our small suited ace a bit more passively in a spot like this. Check back the turn for pot control for instance. 

Playing more passively here also invites our opponent to go on some silly bluff. And of course we have the absolute perfect bluff catcher hand with our top pair weak kicker!

So it is really important that you understand how to pick and choose your spots when playing your small suited aces. Most of the time aggression is a good thing in poker.

However, when you hit top pair with a small suited ace it is important to realize that the relative strength of your hand isn't that great. It's an excellent bluff catcher but not a hand that you can barrel with for value.

So this is actually a great spot to slow down, play more passively and invite them to make a silly bluff.


Final Thoughts


Learning how to play your small suited aces more effectively really isn't that difficult.

Small suited aces are one of my absolute favorite hands to play because they are excellent for bluffing and taking away more pots without the best hand.

And that in my opinion is the real heart of the game of poker. If you want to know one of the main reasons why the pros continue to win year after year it is not because they get less bad beats or get dealt AA more often.

No, it is because they take away far more those of those little pots where nobody really has anything great, and therefore nobody is really willing to go to war for it. 

And since small suited aces almost always have some sort of reasonable equity with a flush/straight draw or the threat of hitting top pair, they are excellent hands to semi-bluff and apply pressure with.

Anyways, that's all I got for now. Let me know in the comments below how you play your small suited aces.

And lastly, if you want to know how I became a poker pro and a poker writer traveling the world, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

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6 comments:

  1. How do you play suited aces? Is this a type of hand that you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below.

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  2. Difficult to disagree with anything in this post. I pretty much never call with suited aces preflop, unless I get a really good price in the BB. In almost all other situations they are a fold or raise hand for me. And since I am almost always the preflop aggressor, when I see a flop with these hands, it is also natural to continue that aggression but of course depending on board texture and situation. If I 3-bet As3s from SB and get called, I am not investing any more money on a board like QcJc9c.

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    Replies
    1. Good last point there. It is important to know when NOT to CBet with these hands. That is a perfect example of a spot to just check/fold.

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  3. Well at NL2/5/10 i dont like 3-Betting suited Aces from the blinds. Fold equity isnt thrilling, and many Flops without FD are painful to play. Especially in SB against early Position open i just call or even
    Ditch it Pre smt... Might miss marginal EV there, but it avoids Bad Postflop Plays that easily Tilt you. If people wont fold their shitty hands, i oblige by 3-betting only 1010+/AK OOP except the occasional Steal against tight regs.

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    1. Correct.Whats the point to try to scare a station off of a weak made hand,when you print just by having a better hand yourself and valuebetting them to death?Easy low brain power poker.

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  4. I raised utg with A3cc it went 6 way on 1/2, the flop gave me NFD, bb donked TP2 on both streets i jammed the made-flush turn IP, funny was he didn't put me on fd by jamming there, maybe AK with a card of club

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