UK Poker Player Poker Strategy Articles The Vulnerability of KK

The Vulnerability of KK

Posted by David Cowell on October 27, 2010 at 1:08 GMT

a pair of kingsWhen you are dealt pocket Kings in NL Texas Hold´em, you should give careful thought to how you intend to play them. You want to make as much profit from the hand as possible, yet cannot risk allowing too many players into the pot – particularly any holding aces that might catch top pair on the flop. With the exception of AA, you are pre-flop favourite to win the hand, so use this to your advantage to gain information about what other players are holding.

Irrespective of your position within the betting, a bet of 3x the BB will shed many of the smaller hands and the blinds from the table. However, your bet is about the right size to represent pot value to holders of mid-ranking pairs or suited connectors, and passive players holding a single ace. A bet of that size may also encourage some resistance from an aggressive player holding a worse hand than you, and a re-raise should be welcomed if no larger than the size of your own bet.

Not everybody will automatically play a hand containing an ace. An interesting statistic you may wish to recall when playing aces of your own, is that on a nine-handed table, if you have a single ace in your hand, there is a 96% chance that somebody else on the table also holds a single ace. Therefore, you can assume that half the aces on the table will fold to a decent pre-flop KK bet, because they are accompanied with low, off-suit kickers and are wary of meeting a stronger ace.

Bearing this fact in mind, if there are any players who have entered the pot with a single ace, their odds of hitting an ace by the river are around one in three. Add that to the possibility that they called your bet with suited cards or an ace with a gallery card that might still draw a straight, and the odds of your KK winning the pot are diminishing all the time. If you allow enough players into the pot, your position as hand favourite vanishes as soon as the flop hits the board.

Your post-flop action is largely going to depend on what the board is showing. If nobody has bet before you, repeat the 3x BB bet and see what information you can draw from the responses of the other players, but this time be more wary of the re-raise. A player who has caught a set or is holding multiple chances of making an outside draw makes your KK look very weak, and if an ace flops onto the board, you know that any resistance to your betting is going to result in you folding.

KK has its fans and its detractors. It is a strong opening hand, but should be treated with caution, and should be used wherever possible to take a pot before showdown without risking a large stack of chips on what represents no more than a coin flip.