Losing with AA, first corollary

Strategy & Advice by Goodshoe about Mirage Casino Posted

A post from today reminds me of another one of my losing AA hands.

This was a Friday night Mirage bounty tournament during my last trip to Vegas, about six months ago. We were down to final table, I think 9 players left. The tourney paid the top 6 players with a grand prize of about $1300 or so. I had $125 or $150 in bounties, so I had already recovered my original buy-in. I had an average stack size at the table, about $25,000. Blinds were $1000/$2000 with $300 antes. These numbers are estimated but will work for purposes of reproducing the hand.

I was in a late-ish position. Opponent #1 was UTG+1, had a short stack (about $8000), and raised all-in. Opponent #2 was in mid-position, had a significant number of chips, slightly more than me (about $30,000), and re-raised all-in. I figured that Opp #2 was just trying to isolate and push everyone else out of the pot. Well, then I looked down at my cards and found pocket AA.

The rest is predictable.

I called. Opp #1 showed down pocket 99, and Opp #2 showed down suited KQ. The board came down KQx, turn and river didn't help me, and I busted out of the tournament with cracked aces.

What was I supposed to do? Fold?

I don't think I could have gotten myself to lay this down, although I suppose there could be a logical argument for folding.

Thanks for your comments.



  1. I would never fold. Its just the variance of tournaments or more specifically the variance in poker.
    The only reason I could see you wanting to fold is to "cash in the tournament" Maybe there were some super short stacks left and by folding they could bust out of the tournament first.
    But again, I am not folding. If folding AA preflop was a consideration, then tournament buy in might be too much for my bankroll. I'd want to play the tournament without bankroll issues or thinking about the money.

  2. Hi,

    This is the classic "result-oriented" argument, which you can dismantle either by numbers (AA is usually 70% favorite against 2 opponent pushing ranges, you have 12BBs (!) ) or by simple logic: you are 3 away from the money on a single table, everybody is really short (so increased variance, even for "bigger" stacks) and you have already reimbursed yourself. Now knowing that, your goal has to be at least a top 3 finish, and you have a spot in which you can 2.5x up with minimum 70% chances of winning, and that can guarantee you 1) be in the money 2) have the perfect stack to bubble abuse, thus being a massive chip leader once the bubble breaks.

    as kansaisupra said, if you consider folding aces preflop, especially against only 2 opponents, find a cheaper game....

  3. Actually Lalush is overstating the win rate for aces a little. Against a lot of combinations of hands (e.g. 2 opponents with suited connectors that have little overlap; or a pair and a suited connector) you are "only" between a 60 and 65% favorite. But, you are still a fairly big favorite to win. By winning that hand you more than double up (with blinds and antes you increase your stack about 2.5 times). You also knock out an opponent in 9th place and cripple another who will likely bust soon. That all significantly increases your chances of not only cashing but finishing high in the tournament for big money.

    As the cards were actually dealt, you were likely to win 66% of the time. You should be more than happy to get a lot of money into a pot as a 2 to 1 favorite. If you aren't, then don't just find a cheaper game, but instead give up gambling entirely because it's not for you.

    Try to remember this whenever someone sucks out (and I'll admit I have trouble with this). If you played the hand exactly as you would have had you seen your opponent's cards, then you played it fine. In this case, you did play it fine.


  4. No way I was folding! And no way I'm giving up on poker tourneys. But your comments make me feel better about my bad beat. Thanks! Next time I will try to post a hand about winning with AA.

  5. @Goodshoe only way i fold here is if next prize is a huge step up if one should get busted

  6. Heck no don't fold. You'll never get better cards and it is speculation on what the others hold. Let's say they had KK and QJ suited and the board came Q-5-4 with no help to either on the last two cards. You'd never question your decision.

    Most of the time you win in this scenario.

  7. I'm making that call all day long. My theory is get it in with the best hand and let the chips fall where they may. The only .. and I mean ONLY way I would even consider folding is if we were on the bubble for a serious payout and it was guaranteed that at the end of the hand, at least one person was hitting the rail. However, if it is the same scenario as you described.... I'm all in.

  8. @Dap Poker Great point, Dap....It don't get any better than pushing a 2-1 fav. It DOES mean that once every three times you will lose, but tha't's poker