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Poker Dictionary (106) > Cowboys

Cowboys - KK (Poker)

'Cowboys' (also 'Kings' or 'King Kong') is the term given to the Texas Hold'em starting hand of KK. It's the second strongest pre flop starting hand that a player can be dealt and a hand that should be played aggressively, as there are many ways it is beaten. Much like getting dealt AA, there are considerable risks post flop - this is a hand that is regularly overturned and it is difficult to lay down. The problem is that a player can be waiting a long time for a big starting hand and when it comes they want to win with it. Players will be dealt on average KK every 56 hands, which equates into roughly a 1.8% of being dealt the hand.

Let's assume you get dealt KK and decide to slow play. Player 2 limps into the pot with A-2. Did you know you will only win 70% of the time? If you're going to take this much risk, you may as well be rewarded for it, so it makes sense to make your opponents pay to see the flop. If they hit their ace, well fair enough, but at least you're getting a price on that risk. Another problem when the ace does hit is that it can be hard to walk away from Kings and you will be drawing pretty thin. If an ace hits and you feel you're behind, that's exactly what you need to do. Fold and move onto the next hand. Often a continuation bet will tell you where you are in the hand.

To put some emphasis on how much trouble you would be, drawing to one of the last two kings, you would have moved from winning nearly three out of 4 times to less than one in 10. In fact 70% becomes 8% to win the hand if an opponent hits an ace. You would need one of your last remaining Kings. This isn't something you would chase, after all, both Kings could have been folded by opponents, so you could be dead in the water.

Of course it won't always go down like this and there are times when slow playing actually makes good tactical sense. For instance, in the latter stages of a tournament when there are a lot of all-ins. if you know that by calling you i) won't be advertising a strong hand and ii) there is a good chance someone will go all in, then it may make sense to trap an opponent for all his chips.

As with any pair, be cautious if any over card hit. Test the water but don't go too deep in the hand to find out where you are

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