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AJ Is NOT A Monster

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What is it about AJ that's so appealing as a starting hand in no-limit Texas Hold'em? I'm convinced it must be like some sort of donkey nip or something.

This should be an easy hand to fold in many situations but time after time people must look down at AJ and think they struck gold and do incredibly stupid things.

In the Double or Nothing SnGs, I am absolutely amazed by how many times I see the following scenario occur in the first level when blinds are only 10/20 and all 10 players pretty much have a full stack (75BB).

UTG raises to 80, UTG+1 folds, UTG+2 calls 80, UTG+3 folds, UTG+4 reraises to 270, HJ folds, CO Calls 270, BTN reraises to 1500 and is all in.

Then one of two things happens. Everybody folds, or there are one or two callers. BTN of course has AJo or AJs. Even when everyone folds, they're kind enough to flash their cards so that everybody can be relieved that they folded to such a powerful hand.

When this happens, I check their stats and it's what I expect, a very negative ROI player. The sad thing (for them, good for us) is that they really think they had the best hand. They're not showing off AJ as a bluff.

This is the type of Level 1 thinking you see frequently at microstakes games. They have no clue what all the action before them might mean. They just look at AJ and must think "Wow, how lucky am I!!?!?!? All this money in the pot and I have the good fortune of being dealt AJ!".

If in the first level of a SnG or tournament, you see all that action in front of you and still want to get involved with AJ, you're probably a horrible poker player. Especially in the early stages of a DoN. AK should usually be a fold there too.

The times when there are one or more callers, AJ is usually in pretty bad shape. Most of the times, AJ loses but once in a while it will suck out to win a big pot.

Lets look at why AJ is such a terrible hand in a raised pot.

With that much action, it's likely someone has a big pair. Against aces, AJ has 9% equity. Against KK, QQ or JJ it only has about 30% equity. You're basically drawing to 3 outs or a miracle straight or flush.

Against hands like AK and AQ, it's dominated, giving AJ only 27% equity against those two possibilities. Shoving into either AK or AQ will mean you'll lose 7 out of 3 times on average if called.

Against any pocket pair TT or less, AJ is still an underdog with about 46% equity. Your classic coin flip situation. This would be one of the better scenarios, but AJ is still behind here.

The best AJ can hope fore is that there was someone other idiot that decided to get it all in with KQ. In that case, AJ has 60% equity. Still not much better than flipping coins.

AJ is a hand I open fold frequently, even out of position in full ring cash games where I play looser, so I'm constantly amazed to see people willing to put their whole buy-in at stake with AJ within the first few hands of a tournament.

AJ is not a hand you should generally 3-bet with, definitely not 4 bet, and usually never call a raise with (especially out of position). But people do it over and over. Which I think is awesome! :) Except for those 3 times out of 10.

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