Ace King – Playing Big Slick
Ideas On How To Play Big Slick, AK
Ace King – How To Play The Misplayed Monster
AK is a very strong hand, however it can and does get beginners in trouble. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that AK is the most misplayed hand in No-Limit Poker.
The Strength of AK- Big Slick
AK is a monster hand. According to Poker Room’s Expected Value (EV) calculator AK suited is the 5th strongest hand (behind AA, KK, QQ & JJ), and AK off-suit is the 7th strongest (behind TT).
There is absolutely no doubt that AK is a positive EV hand. That’s pretty much in line with what all the Poker books teach as well.
The strength of this hand is that when it hits, more often than not, you’re going to have the best hand. Of course there will be the suck outs even when it does hit, but that’s the nature of the game. Most of the time when you pair you’re Ace or King, you’ll go on to win the hand. The other thing that makes this hand strong is that when it doesn’t hit, it’s easy to get away from, or should be. I’ll touch on this more in a minute.
The Weakness of AK- Big Slick
AK is very pretty to look at, but it is still a drawing hand. If you don’t hit an Ace or King, you’ve just got Ace high. Unfortunately many new (and not so new) players get sucked in by its beauty and just can’t seem to let it go, even when it doesn’t hit. How many times have you seen a player online call to the river and turn over and AK that didn’t hit?
Another weakness is that you’re mostly playing for top pair top kicker (TPTK). You can only make one straight and most of the time your flush draw won’t hit. Because of this, it’s not a hand that plays well against multiple players.
Big Slick Pre-Flop
We’ve established the obvious, that AK is a big hand. We’ve also established that it’s lack of draws make it weaker against multiple players (but still strong enough to play). So this tells us that we need to raise with AK.
Until the game is heads up at the final table, see very few situations where limping with AK is justified. I understand the whole “mix up your game” theory, but save it for another hand. AK NEEDS to be raised or re-raised pre-flop.
With AK you will miss the flop 66% of the time (against 3 limpers), but on those hands where you hit, you want to be isolated as much as possible and you want the pot as big as possible. Let’s do the math.
I’m assuming equal bets to keep the math simple. If you limp with AK vs. three limpers you will win 4 Bets 33% of the time (ignoring post-flop). It costs you one bet each time, for a net 1 bet per 3 hands or 0.33 bets per hand.
By raising, 33% of the time you win 8 bets, costing you 2 bets each for a net of +2 bets per 3 hands or 0.66sb per hand. So, by not raising in this situation your EV per hand goes down by 0.33 bets.
This is obviously very simplistic and it doesn’t take into account the additional EV you get by folding your opponents, but it still illustrates the point. This is not a hand to limp with.
How to Play Big Slick When It Hits
This is the easy part. BET IT! How much you bet is dependent on the texture of the flop of course. If there are draws that can hurt you, bet more. If there aren’t any obvious draws, bet what you need to and maximize your winnings. Easy, right?
How to Play AK When it Misses
I spent some time on pre-flop play, but frankly most of the problems players have with AK are not related to pre-flop play. They have a problem because when they miss the flop, they play it like they have a real hand instead of just Ace high. This is where players get into trouble.
So how should you play your AK if it misses? Well, it depends. (That’s the answer for most poker questions, isn’t it?) It depends on your position, number and type of opponents, and the exact texture of the flop, among other things. This is a fairly complex topic and there are no exact approaches, but there are some general rules that will save you some chips.
Please commit this to memory: Just because you raised pre-flop does not mean you are obligated to bet the flop.
A continuation bet (a flop bet following a pre-flop raise) is very powerful and should be used, but the situation has to be right. One thing to keep in mind is that you do not want to bet into a large field from early position.
With several players to act after you, generally the best approach is to check and either fold to a big bet or call a small bet if you have the odds to draw to your over cards and the texture of the flop is favorable. Mostly you’ll want to fold.
There are situations where you’ll want to bet. You want to bet your unimproved AK on the flop if any 2 of these conditions exist (#1 being the most important)
.1. You are up against 2 or less opponents (that are not calling stations!).
2. You are in late position and it is checked to you
3. The board is rainbow and uncoordinated
4. You have additional draws to go with your over cards
I’m sure there are other times when it would be smart to bet, but these are the general rules I follow (try to follow).
Don’t get married to over cards. If they don’t hit on the flop, chances are, even if you hit, you’re going to be second best. Trying to push through several opponents with only over cards is a good way to lose a lot of chips. Remember, AK is profitable, in part, because it is easy to fold.
* Thanks to justthedude for the article and oh yeah, bassmaster helped with some of the strategy ideas ; – ). I found another pretty good article at Card Player about Playing Big Slick. You can read the rest of jtd’s (and other) poker strategy articles here.
Try jtd’s strategy out right now online.
Play Online at Bodog Poker– Safe, Secure, and Instant Play available.