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>> Tips for Playing Big Slick Preflop

Extracting the Most Value with A-K (Big Slick) Preflop

Written by Haunted Poker for exclusive use.


Many poker players have a difficult time playing A-K (also known as ďBig SlickĒ) properly. Obviously, it is a premium starting hand that you should raise at every opportunity. Or is it? Many beginner and intermediate players feel lost when that Ace or King doesnít flop. Should they call a bet with just overcards? Should they bet out or raise and try to pick up the pot on a bluff? In this article, Iíll try to cover this powerful but tricky hand and present you with a few options the next time you pick it up at the table.

First of all, you should realize why you can raise with A-K from any position. You raise for the same reason that you raise any premium hand Ė to thin the field and build a pot. Big hands like Big Slick play much better against fewer opponents, so you should be happy to drive out a few weak opponents who wouldíve called the minimum bet with trash cards. If you do get called for your raise from 1 or 2 other players, youíre building a nice pot if you hit that A or K on the flop and your opponent called with a weak kicker. Therefore, A-K is certainly worthy of a raise from any position, especially if youíre first into the pot.

I recommend raising 70-80% of the time with A-K from early position. The other 20-30% of the time Iíll just call the minimum in order mix up my game and keep my opponents guessing as well as give myself a cheap way to extricate myself from the hand if the flop comes with 3 rags. You should realize that youíll only hit a pair on the flop with this hand about 33% of the time. When you do raise, how much should you put into the pot? The standard raise is 3-4 times the big blind, which is how much Iíll usually bet.

What should you do in middle or late position? It depends on what your opponents have already done. If play gets to you and there are only 1 or 2 limpers in the pot, I would again recommend raising most of the time. I also recommend reraising half or more of the time if the pot has already been raised. Youíll have great position on the flop, and youíll take control of the hand. However, what if youíre in late position and there are 4 or 5 limpers already in the pot? At this point, I will just call a lot of the time. One of the main reasons to raise with A-K is to thin the field. With that many callers in the pot, you most likely wonít drive them away since theyíll be getting great pot odds to make the call. At this point, youíd just be encouraging gambling if you tossed in a raise. Against several opponents, I prefer to just call and see flop.

Finally, if Iím a bit low on chips an donít mind gambling, Iíll consider shoving in my entire stack with A-K regardless of position or pot size. This is certainly reasonable in tournament play, but I will do the same in a cash game from time to time. While this isnít a textbook move, it can be very effective. Consider the hands that would realistically consider calling your all-in move: pocket Aces, pocket Kings, a middle (or low depending upon your opponent) pocket pair, or a worse Ace.

Statistically, you wonít run into Aces or Kings very often and even if an opponent with Kings calls you, you still have the Ace as a draw. Youíre basically in a coin flip against lower pocket pairs, and you should consider taking that chance for a quick double-up. Finally, against a worse Ace youíre a big favorite. Most of the time, youíll just pick up a small pot preflop and aggravate your opponents (which is always a plus). Going all-in preflop allows you to avoid making any further decisions in the hand.

The next time youíre dealt Big Slick, donít freeze up and donít get overexcited. Remember, it is still a drawing hand that will miss most of the time on the flop. To summarize, youíll mostly want to raise the hand to thin the field and build the pot. Occasionally, you should consider just calling if youíre already up against a number of opponents. Once in a while, you might even go all-in to put pressure on your opponents and go for a quick double-up. Donít be disappointed if you pick up the pot uncalled before the flop, since every win builds your stack. Winning poker players arenít greedy.



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