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No Limit Holdem: My Kingdom For Pocket Kings

Aug 9, 2008
You're sitting in your favourite No-Limit Texas Holdem game and take a peek at your first card as it slides across the table: the king of spades. You almost don't dare hope as your second card arrives, but there it is, another king. You've got pocket cowboys, the second best possible starting hand in No-Limit Texas Holdem. You might give your kingdom for a pair of pocket kings, but be careful you don't give your kingdom away.

Slow playing with caution

It's usually a bad idea to limp with pocket kings. Like aces, this hand is very strong now, but is unlikely to improve as much as other hands. Your ideal situation is to get heads-up, or facing just two other players with this hand. If you limp, you'll have no idea how the flop might have hit your opponents. If you put in a good bet before the flop, you'll have a good idea that a flop of 2 4 7 of mixed suits is pretty safe.

You may try for a limp-raise before the flop with kings, to ensure there's some money in the pot worth fighting for. This is most effective if you are in early position, where you can give the most opponents a chance to put in a bet. If someone raises, you re-raise. If someone else moves all-in, you may well be up against pocket aces. However, you could be up against another pair of kings, ace king, or even queens. While many pros take pride in "the time they laid down kings," they are usually referring to a tournament situation, when different strategies may make such a big lay down correct in rare cases. Unless you are a highly proficient pro, you're going to want to get all your chips in before the flop with pocket kings if you can, and if someone happens to have pocket aces, well, that's poker.

When an ace hits the flop

You're hoping to see a flop without an ace, a pair (especially a big pair) or three of a suit. Connected and two suited boards can present some danger. Unless the flop is devastating, such as Ah Qh Jh while you hold two black kings, you'll generally want to put in a bet on the flop. Even if an ace comes, you should often make a small bet. Your opponents don't know that you didn't raise with a hand like AK or AQ, and you don't want someone without an ace to bet you off the hand. If you are raised however, you'll usually have to throw your kings away.

If you are fortunate enough to flop a set with your kings, you should still probably bet. If you raised before the flop, your opponents will expect a bet, and may get suspicious if you check. Make sure you make a bet they can call though.

Just as with aces, it's important to remember that unimproved kings are just one pair. You shouldn't get married to any hand, and if the play of the hand makes it clear that your kings are beaten, don't be afraid to throw them away. I promise, eventually you'll get them again in some of your coming poker games.
About the Author
This article was brought to you by TexanBuddy. TexanBuddy is a Texas Holdem Poker Odds Calculator which will calculate the odds of you winning your hand. This is an essential addition to your poker arsenal and gives you a huge edge at the online tables. Find out more from http://www.texanbuddy.com
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