Poker Trouble Spots: KK in Early Position Part 1

pocket kings

In a perfect world, all the large pots you play at a poker table come when you have position.

But in real life, trouble spots arise when you find yourself in early position and get dealt a hand often played into large pots, like KK.

When you have a position best suited for small pots but a hand suited for large pots, you're liable to make costly mistakes.

Your best strategy in this situation greatly depends on the players you're against.

How to Play KK in Early Position

How you choose to play the hand preflop will dictate the choices you'll have to make post-flop.

Your goal with KK in early position preflop is to take control of the pot and gather information about your opponents' hands.

Michael Binger
ABC way is to open with a raise.

The ABC way to play this hand is to open with a raise. Raising from early position preflop gives your opponents the impression you have a premium hand.

This gives you fold equity and generally wins you the pot on a continuation bet.

Typically, players that call your preflop raise here have a weaker hand and are hoping to outflop you and "crack your hand" for a large pot.

These players are hoping for a "way ahead or way behind" situation and are willing to fold if they end up behind on the flop.

Unless you flop a monster or are up against a weak opponent who can't fold his cards, you typically don't want to have any opponents call your bets down to the river.

If all you have is an overpair, you don't have a hand that warrants playing a big pot. Use pot control to keep the pot small-to-medium in size.

The Limp-Reraise

A limp-reraise is a commonly used option in this case.

The player in early position limps with his kings and waits for another player to raise. When the action comes back around, he then makes a large reraise.

The problem with this technique is it's only effective against very loose or reckless opponents. A limp-reraise is a display of colossal strength. Any decent player automatically assumes your most likely hands are AA, KK, QQ and maybe A-K or JJ.

In other words, a limp-reraise with KK always sees AA call or move all-in and rarely sees any other hands call. It's not uncommon to see players fold QQ or JJ to a limp-reraise.

The second drawback to a limp-reraise is you build a very large pot and are forced to play out of position for the remainder of the hand.

The final catch with a limp-reraise is the risk noone else in the hand will put in a raise.

In general, unless you're up against a maniac or you have a tricky enough table image that other players can realistically put you on more hands than the top 3-5, a limp-reraise should be avoided.

Scotty Nguyen and Phil Hellmuth
A limp-call can get you in trouble.

The Limp-Call

Your other option is to limp then call if someone raises. This is the exact opposite of "correct ABC play" and should only be used to mix things up.

If no one raises, you'll be headed to a flop with multiple opponents and no information on hands. In this situation, you want to play a small pot as chances are you're behind.

If someone raises and you're one of the only callers, you're in decent shape. Chances are you're going into the flop with the best hand and the strength of your hand is well-disguised.

Unfortunately, it's hard to find a flop you're really going to like.

Part two of this article will go over some flops and how they affect your hand plus the best lines you can take for each of your preflop choices.

Related strategy articles:

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wildan 2012-07-20 05:44:44


Sean Lind 2009-06-26 04:00:00

If someone has you beat, they'll call any bet, if they have trash, they'll fold to any bet. If they have a lower pair, they'll call a small to medium bet.

You have to know if you're making a value bet, or a bluff. If you're bluffing, you need to bet enough to make them fold, if it's a value bet, bet just enough that you'll be sure to get called.

Eddie 2009-06-25 06:44:00

"If all I have is an overpair, then I don't have a hand that warrants playing a big pot." Agreed. "I typically don't want my bets called down to the river." Also agreed. But there's the problem... If I only "bet small to medium," how can I expect my one pair hand NOT to be called down to the river?

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