What are Pocket Cowboys?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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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 professionals consider the second best combination is two kings, called pocket cowboys in poker circles. Having pocket cowboys, however, does not always guarantee a winning hand, especially when other players are looking for signs of aggressive betting. Many experts advise players to remain somewhat detached from their pocket cowboys, since other players can still beat a pair of kings with communal aces and their own hole cards.

Pocket cowboys can earn a player a significant amount of money as long as the betting does not become overheated or other players do not fold early. The appearance of an ace in the flop — the first three communal cards presented — can quickly change the odds for a win with pocket cowboys. A second ace in either the turn — the fourth communal card or "fourth street" — or the river — the fifth and final communal card or "fifth street" — can take pocket cowboys out of competition. Without a third king to strengthen the pocket cowboys, a player cannot afford to make significant raises against others.


A player holding pocket cowboys can still take a risk and go all in, meaning all of his chips are now part of the overall pot. This betting strategy could be seen as a bluff by other players, but only the ones with the strongest hands or the best bluffing skills would match an all-in bet. The strength of the player's original pocket cowboys combined with a weak set of communal cards should equal a win, but many experienced poker players advise not "falling in love" with pocket cowboys. This means a player should be willing to fold or make minimal bets if the other players become too aggressive with their own bids.


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