The Dangerous Beauty of Poker’s Ace King
It’s as dangerous as it is potentially lucrative, but, as with scratch card games, if you can learn some fundamental concepts about poker’s “Big Slick” (Ace-King), then you’ll find you make a lot more with it.
The first thing to keep in mind when you’re dealt A-K when playing offline or online is that it’s not a made hand. This is in contrast to a pocket pair which technically doesn’t need to hit the flop in order to have a ranked poker hand. Once you appreciate this fact, the most profitable strategy almost becomes obvious.
Because A-K is the third best pre-flop hand you can be dealt, it doesn’t pay to play this hand timidly. Indeed, the fact it’s an unmade hand, coupled with its inherent strength, means that you should play this hand as aggressively as possible.
While this obviously isn’t a blanket strategy that should be applied in every situation, it’s a general ethos you should utilise whenever possible. In general, when holding A-K, you shouldn’t be afraid to get as much money as possible into the pot before the flop.
You can achieve this by raising and re-raising wherever possible. Indeed, in circumstances where there has been a raise and re-raise in front of you, it’s always an option to move all-in.
The reason for such aggression is twofold: it gives you the betting lead and it reduces the pot-to-stack ratio.
When you raise and re-raise pre-flop you are said to have the betting lead. In situations such as this the player/s you’re against will often check to you post-flop and let you dictate the action. This is great because it allows you to either check or bet at your leisure.
Beyond this, if you decrease the pot-to-stack ratio pre-flop you make it much easier to get all your money in post-flop. Indeed, if the amount you’re risking is lower than the amount you stand to win, it can never be too much of a mistake to gamble your stack.
A third and final reason for playing A-K aggressively is because you’ll usually be in a 50/50 situation (unless your opponent has pocket aces or kings in which case you’ll be a statistical underdog). Moreover, you’ll often find yourself in a dominant position because weak players will often call all-ins with weaker aces such as A-Q, A-J and A-T.
Thus, when weighing up all the options, it becomes clear that the best way to play A-K is to be aggressive. Keep this in mind and you won’t fall foul of poker’s dangerous beauty.