How to Play Ace Jack Like the Pros (Simple Strategy!)

How to Play Ace Jack Like the Pros

One of the hardest hands to play effectively in No Limit Hold'em is Ace Jack.

While it is a very strong hand in theory, and will be a large long term winner for you, it will also often put you in all sorts of tricky spots.

You need to know when to bet, raise and most importantly, when to fold with this hand. So here is your complete guide on how to play Ace Jack like the pros. 

Follow these simple tips to start winning much more with Ace Jack!

1. Always Raise With Ace Jack First Into the Pot

My first Ace Jack tip for you is to always raise if you are the first person to enter the pot preflop.

Now, this is something that I already recommend with any hand that you play. But it is even more important with a hand like AJ.

Here's the reason why.

It is extremely important that you grab the initiative right away with Ace Jack (if possible), so that you give yourself two ways to win the hand after the flop:

1. Make the best hand
2. Bluff them out of the pot

Because, the problem when you just limp into the pot with a hand like Ace Jack is that you force yourself to have to make the best hand.

It is much harder to bluff when you are not the one in control of the hand.

And since you will only flop a pair with Ace Jack roughly 1 out of 3 times, I am sure that you can already see the problem here!

So please please, always remember to make things as easy for yourself as possible in poker.

Taking control of the pot by raising first in (with any hand, not just Ace Jack), is the proven way to win more. You can just check your PokerTracker database and see for yourself.

If you are the first person to enter the pot preflop, always raise with Ace Jack, so that you give yourself more ways to win the pot.

2. Ace Jack is a Great 3-Betting Hand

Ace Jack is also an excellent hand to 3bet with (re-raise), before the flop. And this is a great way to really take control of the pot and put a lot of pressure on your opponents.

Now at first this might seem counter-intuitive, especially to many newer poker players. Why would you want to re-raise with a sort of good, but kinda mediocre hand, like Ace Jack?

The reason why is because AJ has great card removal.

What I mean by this is that it makes it much less likely that your opponents have a really strong hand such as:
  • Ace King
  • Ace Queen
  • Pocket Aces
  • Pocket Jacks

And this is because you directly block these hands with your own hand. So this is why Ace Jack is a great hand to 3-bet with especially when you are out of position (OOP). 

As I talk about in Crushing the Microstakes, being out of position is a proven big statistical disadvantage at the poker table.

And that is why in the book I recommend a pretty aggressive 3betting strategy when you are OOP.

So you will often want to take a decent, but not great hand, like Ace Jack, and re-raise preflop with it from the blinds in particular.

This is an especially effective play against a loose and aggressive player who open raised preflop from late position.

Their range will typically be very wide in this spot, and so you can re-pop them and often take it down. Or, even if they do call, you can often take down the pot with a simple continuation bet on the flop.

Win/Win for you!

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3. You Need to Know When to Fold Ace Jack

Let's face it, nobody likes to fold in poker. It sucks, you can't win the pot when you fold, yadda yadda.

But at the the end of the day, sometimes you absolutely need to fold in poker, especially versus a tight player who is clearly telling you that they have you beat.

This hand is a perfect example of that:

The line that this tight nitty player takes throughout this hand is clearly indicating to us that our trips are no good. 

He almost certainly has:
  • Pocket 2's
  • Pocket 6's
And therefore, we need to make the tough fold.

By the way, if you have problems playing against very tight nitty players, I have already written a complete guide to crushing them on my blog right here.

But the bottom line here is this:

When you are being raised or re-raised by an extra tight player, especially on the turn or the river, which I call the "big money streets," you often need to fold a hand like Ace Jack.

This is because Ace Jack is a prime cooler hand to be beaten by a stronger Ax hand like:
  • Ace King
  • Ace Queen
Or, some sort of set like the player in the hand above undoubtedly had.

4. Ace Jack is a Great Bluffing Hand

Ace Jack is an excellent hand to run big bluffs with.

Now, if you play poker in small stakes games, you know that running big bluffs isn’t something that I really recommend.

And that is because there are too many calling stations in these games that will just call you down!

But as I talk about in The Micro Stakes Playbook, there are still some great spots to run big bluffs at the lower limits especially against overly tight and fearful players.

So for example:

You raise preflop with AJ from the cutoff in a 5c/10c 6max cash game online.

A tight nit (regular) calls you in the big blind.

The flop comes:


Your opponent checks.

You make a continuation bet (Cbet) and your opponent calls.

The turn comes:


Your opponent checks

What should you do?

You should absolutely be betting here again, and also bluffing the river as well on certain cards.

The reason why is that our opponent’s range when he just calls us preflop here is a lot of:
  • Small pocket pairs
  • Mid pocket pairs
  • Ace high hands
  • Broadways (KJ, QJ etc)
Most of these hands are still pretty weak by the turn, and another bet puts incredible pressure on them to have something really strong.

And even if we are behind, we still have a gut-shot straight draw to the nuts if we catch a King on the river. Heck, we might even win the hand with any Ace or Jack on the river as well. 

So this is an excellent spot to run a big bluff against a tight, predictable player at the micro stakes.

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How to Play Ace Jack - Final Thoughts

So hopefully these 4 simple tips gave you some strategies to start winning more at the poker tables with your Ace Jack.

The truth is that Ace Jack is actually a pretty straight forward hand to play. You really don’t need to study a bunch of advanced poker strategy in order to start profiting more with AJ. 

You almost always want to be raising or re-raising with it preflop, and it is an excellent candidate to run big bluffs with in the right spots, against the right players, post-flop.

But you also need to know when to back off with Ace Jack, because if you decide to play a big pot with just one pair with this hand, you will often lose versus any competent player.

Always be aware of the player type you are up against at the micro stakes in particular and understand what kind of range they are representing with their actions throughout the hand.

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How to Play Ace Jack Like the Pros