Ace Rag

What’s Wrong With Ace Rag? Tony from UK

Dear Tony,

Thanks for your question. Ace rag is an ace with a number between 2 and 9 and usually off-suit in Texas Holdem. It is a hand group that is often associated with new players who often overplay it. They usually overplay it because they look at one ace and think they have a strong hand. The second card is known as the “kicker” and can be the key difference in winning or losing the pot. See below for example:

Board – Ah 3h 9d 9s 5d

On this board, a player with Ad 6d is beat by someone with Ac Jc because you are playing the best 5 card hand, in this case A-A-9-9-J beats A-A-9-9-6.

The Maths

To have a bigger kicker with your ace is quite a significant advantage in Texas Holdem. You will be at least 74% favourite if you both hold an ace and yours is larger. This is known as being dominated, this is particularly useful to know in tournament poker when you are all in before the flop. If you overplay an ace rag and are all in against an ace king, you are in a world of trouble and unlikely to win.

Playability

Remember, an ace is both high and low for straights. Therefore, a lower ace could be more of value than a middle kicker. This sounds counter intuitive but for the purposes of playability it’s true. I would much prefer to have an ace four than an ace seven. The ace four has straight potential whereas the ace seven does not. 

How Many People at The Table

The fewer players at the table, the wider range of hands you should be playing. In a full ring game, an ace ten is a mediocre hand at best from early position, four handed and it is a strong hand. In other words, the value of your ace goes up in value, the fewer opponents you have. If you are playing heads up, you will likely play every ace before the flop, with differing degrees of aggression, but you will play them.

Ace Rag Tips

Ace rag doesn’t have to be a problem hand. As long you are not wedded to it post flop if you catch an ace, exercise pot control well and are in position, the hand can certainly be profitable for you.

  • Open raise from cut-off or button if folded to you
  • Call a raise from SB
  • Limped pot and you catch top pair
  • 3 Bet a loose aggressive player in position as you have a good blocker.



Ace Rag
Everyone loves an ace. Image by Aditya Chinchure

I hope you found this answer useful. Remember to tread cautious next time you look down at ace rag.

Thanks,
Narciso

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