What’s a Pocket Cowboy?

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In Texas Hold ‘Em, pocket cowboys (two kings) are a strong starting hand, but not a guaranteed win. Aces on the community cards can change the odds. All-in bets can be risky, and players should not get too attached to pocket cowboys.

In the popular poker game called Texas Hold ‘Em, each player is dealt two “hole cards,” which can be combined with the community cards to form the player’s strongest hand. The best hole cards a player can receive are two aces, also known as pocket rockets. Many pros consider the second best hand to be two kings, called pocket cowboys in poker circles. Having pocket cowboys, however, doesn’t always guarantee a winning hand, especially when other players look for signs of aggressive betting. Many experts advise players to stay a bit detached from their pocket cowboys, as other players can still beat pocket kings with community aces and their own hole cards.

Pocket cowboys can make a player a substantial amount of money as long as the bets don’t overheat or the other players don’t fold early. The appearance of an Ace on the flop – the first three community cards presented – can quickly change the odds of winning with pocket cowboys. A second ace on the turn – the fourth community card or “fourth street” – or on the river – the fifth and final community card or “fifth street” – can take pocket cowboys out of competition. Without a third king to bolster the pocket cowboys, a player cannot afford to make significant raises against the others.

A player who has a pair of cowboys can still take a risk and go all in, which means that all of his chips now form part of the overall pot. This betting strategy might be seen as bluffing by other players, but only those with the strongest hands or best bluffing skills would match an all-in bet. The strength of the player’s original pocket cowboys combined with a weak set of community cards should equal a win, but many experienced poker players advise against “falling in love” with pocket cowboys. This means that a player should be willing to fold or make minimum bets if other players get too aggressive with their offers.

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