How ’bout dem Kowboys?

by , Jul 24, 2006 | 6:44 pm

LAS VEGAS–Derek in Plano writes in with an intriguing question:


I have been having a problem playing KK. I was wondering what would be the best bet to maximize the profit of this powerful hand while getting A-rag out of the pot. I seem to run into this everywhere I play… The Lodge, home games and of course donk central APL. I can’t count how many times my kings are cracked by A4, A5, A6, A7, etc. Just looking for any advice on playing the cowboys.


Derek, I wish I had the answer for you. But sadly, the best I can suggest right now is patiently waiting for the hand, get it all-in with the best of it, and then lose a mammoth pot to a one-outer on the river. But perhaps some readers will have a suggestion?

I think the key is to bet or check in a way that let’s you know if the guy has an ace … or try to get it all-in pre-flop … or just concede that if an ace comes on the flop you’re gone. But this can’t be the winningest way to play the hand. Because I think you have to be able to win with pocket kings when an ace shows up on the board to be a truly winning player.

14 Comments to “How ’bout dem Kowboys?”

  1. Michael Z

    Best way to play this hand is similar to however you play pocket aces. The easiest way is to raise it enough preflop to try it get it down to a heads up battle and then just pray that an ace doesn’t fall (which it always does with me) and then play out the hand base don feel/tells.

    More often than not you will get the Ax unsuited out of the pot with a big enough raise and if it turns out that they call then down the road you will know that you can get your chips back from that player as they are likely a poor player to begin with.

  2. Tim B.

    I was at the home game in question that propmted this email, and i saw the hand in question… and ive got to say derek that ill play Ax against you any day of the week when i feel confident youre holding KK… why? because a) i can BE confident when you have KK since without fail you bet it differently than you do any other hand (AA, AK, QQ, even) and b) youve got this kind of fatalist self-destructive thing going on with KK when an A comes… ive seen it multiple times, if that A comes, im going to bust you because youre grimly determined to make me show you my Ax so you can re-affirm to yourself your belief that KK never holds up for you…

    i can only assume that both these factors spring directly from your aforementioned obsession with KK vs Ax… and under most situations, with most players, i would fold A-small preflop to a hand i felt confident was KK… but in your case, if both our stacks are deep, then the sure-fire implied odds mandate a call looking to catch that ace and bust you…

    consider for a moment that KK vs Ax IS a favorite, but it isnt a HUGE favorite… against the possible Ax hands (A2o-AKo, A2s-AKs) KK is a 7-to-3 (2.33-to-1) favorite… which is great… if all the money got in the pot pre-flop, Ax will still get there and beat you almost one time for every two times it doesnt get there.

    look at it like this. imagine you set up a table on the street corner, and took 10 note cards… on 7 cards, you wrote a big black X, and on the remaining 3 you wrote a big red O… you turn them all face down, shuffle them around in front of you, then grab the first guy that happens to walk by and ask him to draw a card. youll give him a dollar if he draws an O, and he’ll give YOU a dollar if he draws an X. would you be stunned and amazed if that guy drew one of the three O cards from the ten in front of him? would you fly out of your chair in disbelief, pound the table with your fists, kick the cat, and scream “OMG WTF BBQ!!!”? of course not. no one would. its not difficult at all to imagine some random dude pulling that O off the table.

    youd just shrug and ask if he wanted to try again, and again, and again. why? because this is a GREAT bet for you. 7 times in 10, youll win a dollar. 3 times in ten, youll lose one. youd make this bet all day long if you could. given enough time, it would make you absurdly rich.

    but the way you play KK against Ax is more like taking the same scenario, and telling the random dude “if you draw an X, you give me a dollar, but if you draw an O, ill give you 10. and sulk. and maybe throw some more cash at you at random for the rest of the day.”

    offer me a deal like that, and id play with you all day long. 7 times in 10, you win a dollar. 3 times in 10, you lose 10.

    see the problem? and why ill go out of my way to play Ax against you when i think youre holding KK?

  3. TommyTwoToes

    wow… someone just got pimp slapped.

  4. Steve

    I agree with Dan you need to be able to win with KK when there is an ace on the board. I also agree with what the long winded pimp slapper said as well. My suggestion is to mix up your play alittle bit, pre-flop. Try limping in with KK, QQ or even AA from time to time. If you flop your set with one of those you will accomplish two things 1.) you will most likely take a huge pot because nobody will be able to put you on that hand. 2.) you have changed your image at the table. Now nobody can put you on KK or any hand for that matter. It will even make it easier to win with Dan’s Hammer (72o) or any junk hand pre-flop with a “KK” hand size raise.

  5. Tim B.

    that wasnt intended to be a “pimp slap”, i wasnt trying to be harsh… i actually WASNT going to say anything at all and just use it as a moneymaking opportunity whenever the situation came up 🙂

    BUT, i figure the group of guys i play with are all friends, and its a friendly game, and it actually benefits us all to improve our games… and i hope he would likewise point out a hole in MY game so i could attempt to plug it…

  6. Ed

    I just do it because I know how unlucky he is. He could tell me.. I have KK so you better fold…and I would call his 10x raise with my T2o knowing I would catch two tens on the flop. 🙂


  7. Derek Boswell

    Tim B. I am glad you pointed that out to me that you can tell by my betting when I have KK. I am always looking to improve my game every day. So next time I will limp with KK, catch trips and bust that Ax….

  8. Ed

    OR you will do like many online players like to do…limp with top pair…then play the rest of the hand like they have the nuts still and go broke. I look forward to our next home game. ::rubs hands together and chuckles with glee::


  9. telnetdoogie

    Hey guys… I just wanted to say two things…



    “But dey was sooooooooted!”

  10. telnetdoogie

    But seriously… Derek just to add some more information to the hand I think you’re talking about most recently… You raised a GOOD amount (maybe a bit too much if you wanted action) pre flop and I put you on a hand like AK/AQ or maybe even AA or KK. But the hand in my mind was AK… I figured it was a good drawing hand and you wanted to finish it right there instead of taking a chance on having to hit on the flop.

    I looked down at A8d. As a general rule, I like to see a flop with a suited ace maybe 20% of the time I’m holding it. Based on the fact that I knew you were betting hard, I thought if there was a good time to flop the nut flush, this would be one of them, so I took a chance. Now, it just happens that I flopped top two pair and at that point I was 90% sure I had you beat. You either had AK and had caught an ace, or some lower pair and were dominated. I was going to call anything you threw my way. If you’d had AA I would have seriously “come a cropper” on this hand.

    However… If I had caught the Ace, but not the second pair, and post flop (remember I still didn’t know what you had) you’d made another healthy bet (the same bet as pre flop would have done it), I’d have PROMPTLY thrown away that ace, even though at that point I had you beat. I think the players that TRULY are annoying you enough to get obsessed about this situation are the ones where, in THAT second situation, would have called you all the way to the river. Those people and me aren’t one and the same though 🙂

  11. Ed

    “Those people and me aren’t one and the same though”

    Just very similar…which makes it hard to tell the difference sometimes.


  12. Tim B.

    i think it should be said that KK is not an “I WIN!” button for holdem. neither is AA, or any other starting hand.

    just because one hand is a favorite over another pre-flop in holdem does NOT imply that the favorite “should” win a showdown. there is no should or shouldnt, only the odds.

    id bet a very large majority of holdem players would be significantly less annoyed when they held 88 and lost to A6 than they would when holding KK and lost to the same A6. but why, when 88 and KK have the same chances against A6? ill tell you why: because they feel like KK “should” win more often than 88 vs A6. and KK is just soooo damn PRETTY… unfortunately, pretty doesnt win pots.

  13. TheActorTony

    Lodgers, APLers and home-gamers call you with their A-rag (or worse) vs your KK because they can. Adjust your game against these low-limit players and their styles of play. Of course, even in higher limits, KK doesn’t win every time, but you take your chances. At last year’s WSOP, day 1, I saw Farha bust KK with his AA. Shit happens. KK looked right at Farha and said “Had to do it, man”. And I agree; give me KK in any game with enough money on the table and I’ll do everything I can possibly do to get that one guy holding A-x (or anything else) AI. Well, except for Tim B. maybe. 🙂

  14. Tim B.

    > Well, except for Tim B. maybe.