KO’d With Pocket Kings: Why Does It Only Happen To You?

by Lou on June 30, 2005

Getting knocked out of a tournament with a pocket pair of kings seems to be the particular bugaboo of many players. They hate it. And I understand why. Pocket kings are a big hand, and no one likes losing when they are heavily favored from the get-go. Whenever it happens, it’s memorable; that’s for sure. When you are eliminated from a tournament or severely crippled and would have been KO’d if only your opponent had a sufficient amount of chips to cover you, you can rest assured that it will happen with your good hands, not your weak ones. You’re just not going to get eliminated with hands like 8-3 offsuit except for those occasions when you go all-in on your blind and that was the random hand you happened to be dealt.

When you make big bets before the flop, it’s usually going to be with a significantly sized hand, and since a pocket pair of aces wins a lot more than a pocket pair of kings, it’s the KO with kings that seems most memorable. Even elimination with Big Slick doesn’t stick in your memory to the same extent, because as good as it is, A-K is still a drawing hand and an underdog to any pair at all in a heads-up confrontation. But things are different when you’re holding a pair of kings in the pocket. You’re favored against any other holding except a pair of aces, and if you have pocket kings and your opponent has A-K, you’re still favored since he is essentially drawing to only three outs — oddball straights and four-card flushes notwithstanding.

An opponent figures to hold a pocket pair of aces when you have a pocket pair of kings about once in 24 times. Since you figure to have a pair of kings about once every 220 hands, you probably won’t be involved in an aces versus kings preflop match-up more often than every 175 hours at the table. So it won’t happen often, which is why it seems so devastating when it does.

On the other hand, if you raise with a pocket pair of kings and see an ace flop, it’s an entirely different story. With an ace in his hand, your opponent figures to pair it on the flop one time in six, and that’s not all that uncommon.

Just don’t waste time or energy worrying about situations like these. You don’t get dealt big pocket pairs all that frequently, and when you do, you’re going to have to risk your money if you want to propel yourself up the tournament leader board.

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