The Power of Baby Suited Aces

Winamax Poker Tour cards
A player shuffles cards during the launch of the Winamax poker tour. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

When we discussed speculative Hold’em hands in this space last week, the focus was on small pocket pairs and suited connectors – hands where the 20-to-1 Rule will help you decide whether to proceed.

Not included in our analysis: suited Aces. This was not an oversight. Suited Aces are much too powerful in Hold’em to be considered speculative, thanks in large part to that Ace you’ve got in your hand.

You can open-raise these bad boys from any position at the table, and in many cases, you should 3-bet if your opponent opens first. Having said that, it’s always nice to have a bit more equity.

Baby suited Aces (Ace-Five through Ace-Deuce) are especially good starting hands because they can make straights as well as flushes.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use these hands more effectively the next time you’re on the felt.

Isn’t Ace-Rag a Bad Hand?

Sometimes. If you’re in an early position, a hand like Ace-Seven offsuit should usually go in the muck, since so many of the hands that fight back will contain an Ace with a better kicker.

Make that Ace-Seven suited, though, and now you have something to work with. There are only three other Aces left in the deck, so you’re still blocking your opponents somewhat from having a better starting hand.

But now that you’re suited, you have the option of speculating and trying to out-draw your foes if you encounter any resistance.

To illustrate, here’s how much equity (your expected share of the pot) these two hands will give you against a random Hold’em hand:

  • A7o: 58.84%
  • A7s: 60.98%

That extra 2.14% is pure gold. You’re not going to make that nut flush most of the time, but as long as the effective stacks are deep enough, being suited gives you the option of calling your opponent’s 3-bet and seeing what happens.

You can also 4-bet sometimes, using the blocking power of your Ace as leverage.

Five Is Still Less Than Seven, Right?

Absolutely. And that lower kicker does take a small chunk out of your equity:

  • A5s: 59.92%

Remember, though, these numbers represent “hot-and-cold” equity or the percentage of the pot you’d expect to win in the long run if you and your opponent simply went all-in pre-flop.

The power of Ace-Five suited lies in how you can use it from street to street. If you’re the pre-flop raiser in a Hold’em hand, you have up to four opportunities to get your opponents to fold: pre-flop, flop, turn, and river.

Should they continue, you still have a chance to outdraw them, and having the Five, in this case, gives you the additional “wheel” draw (Five-Four-Three-Deuce-Ace) to go with your nut flush draw.

You can even make the “steel wheel” with a straight flush. This versatility (Matthew Janda calls it “robust equity”) makes Ace-Five suited a significantly more powerful starting hand than Ace-Seven suited.

You get a little less equity as you move down the baby suited Aces, of course:

  • A4s: 59.03%
  • A3s: 58.22%
  • A2s: 57.38%

These are still potent starting hands in and of themselves, though. And because of their robustness, you can play them aggressively deeper into a hand, just as you would with pocket Aces, Ace-King, and such.

Again, it’s not technically correct to call these baby-suited Aces “bluffing” hands, just as they don’t quite fit in the “speculative” bucket.

But they do share many of those valuable qualities, so take advantage of them when you can, and as always, may the rectangles be with you.