Here’s a little discussion of how one might be able to get some mileage out of the rag ace that was so disparaged in the last post. There are times when it can pay off; the trick is recognizing those situations and disabusing oneself of thinking that it is a generally good hand. For reasons already discussed, it is not to normally be played. Especially when making the transition from small home games to serious play, it can be difficult not to perk up when an ace appears. Any hole card is only as good as the support it receives from its partner. Simply having a jack is nothing to get excited about. Pairing it with a suited 10 however opens up some options. It is the same with an ace. An ace with no support can do very little.
Little, however, is more than nothing. When is it advisable to play this hand?
Lets look at two situations. First, it is permissible to play it when the table is very short handed. Fewer than five players at a table is probably a good time to loosen up enough to pull the rags out of the laundry. This is not simply a property of the rag ace. Obviously, fewer players means there will be fewer premium hands. With fewer premium hands in play, lower grade hands become far more powerful. This means that an ace alone can become a powerhouse. But be careful; don’t be lured back into the misleading mindset that simply holding an ace will carry the day. Another time when the rag ace can pay dividends is when it’s possible to get in on a big, preflop pot for cheap. This requires late positioning – dealer position ideally – and none or only a very small raise. This also needs to be supported by a good feel for the table. If there’s a possibility that one or more players may be waiting out monsters don’t even bother.
The dream scenario for these situations is to catch top pair on the flop allowing the ace to provide the best possible kicker. Aces on the flop are more trouble than they are worth. In the short handed situation, there is always the danger of being headsup with another ace whose rag is not quite as grimy. Unfortunately, with a rag, this means that the entire flop needs to be low cards creating a greater danger of running up against a low straight. In the multi handed situation, being in late position will give all the information needed. If a lot of players stay in there are more aces out there. Most of them are probably better than a rag. With so many people obviously catching paices of a flop, a pair of aces with no support is out in no man’s land. If nothing comes up on the flop get out immediatly. There is simply no way a rag ace is going to stand up against that many other hands without having hit. The reason it is permissibile to call in this situation is because of the discipline for throwing away the rag ace every other time. Because it is played so little, it becomes mathematically favorable to take the chacne on hitting a flop if it’s cheap enough. If nothing comes, throw it away. It didn’t cost much to begin with.