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>> Poker Strategy - Tips for Playing Ace-King

Extracting the Most Value with Big Slick on the Flop and Beyond

Written by Haunted Poker for exclusive use.


Many players have trouble maximizing their value with A-K. While it is a powerful hand, beginners and intermediate players often find Big Slick tough to play after the flop. In this article, we hope to help you make the most of this tricky hand when you have the best of it, and keep your stack in tact when youíre beaten.

First of all, letís cover a common situation: you raised the hand to 4x the big blind preflop and got 1 or 2 callers. You made the right move in order to thin the field and maximize your winning chances. With only 1 or 2 opponents, I will usually bet out on the flop regardless of what it brings. If I have position in the hand and Iím checked to on the flop, Iíll bet almost every time even without pairing up.

You represented a big hand with your raise preflop, so your opponent(s) will have a tough time calling your bet if they didnít connect on the flop. A raggedy rainbow flop makes it even more likely that your opponent missed. This type of bet is called a continuation bet, and you should bet anywhere from 1/3 Ė 2/3 the size of the pot. If you get raised, you can easily release your hand. If you get called and donít improve on the turn, you should just check/fold. Note that I wouldnít recommend this against more than 3 opponents since one of them likely did improve on the flop and will call you down.

Another common scenario that I see online occurs when players miss with A-K. Many inexperienced players just get too attached to this hand and end up calling pot-sized bets or more on the flop. They havenít hit a draw or a pair, but they just hate giving up this hand. They end up calling until the river, hoping to hit one of their overcards or catch a miracle straight. Remember that A-K might be a huge hand, itís still a drawing hand that you need to play with caution. There is no reason to throw more money into the pot with a busted hand that has a very small chance to improve.

So, what do you do when you connect on the flop? It depends what happened preflop and the texture of the flop. If you raised preflop and saw a flop of K-5-8 rainbow with a couple of opponents, you should bet out to protect what is likely the best hand. When you connect your Ace or King (or both) and you raised preflop, youíre usually going to have the best hand.

However, letís say that you see a similar flop of A-5-8 rainbow but you just called preflop from early position along with 5 others. You should still bet out, but if youíre raised you should slow down or even consider releasing your hand. Many of your weak opponents have the ďAce-anythingĒ mentality, and since the pot wasnít raised preflop it is likely that one of them stuck in with A-8 or A-5. Of course, you could also be up against pocket 5-5 or 8-8, in which case youíre thoroughly dominated. Iíve seen many huge pots that pitted A-K against A-trash with an Ace and trash on the board. Big Slick is a premium hand, but donít get too attached to it if you only hit one pair against several opponents.

Finally, one situation in where you have a big hand is when youíre holding A-K suited. If you hit another 2 of your suit on the flop but donít hit a pair, you still have 2 overcards and a draw to the nut flush. I like to push this hand to win it right there on the flop. If I donít, Iíll still stand a great chance to improve to the winning hand. Times that you do hit the nut flush on the flop, I would recommend slowplaying it since you have a cinch hand at that point. Allow your opponents to take control and youíll be in an excellent situation is another suited card comes off on the turn.

Remember, A-K is still a drawing hand that you need to play properly in order to maximize your winnings. If youíre only up against a couple of opponents in a raised pot, consider taking a stab at the pot on the flop even if you donít hit. If youíre up against several opponents, slow down and throw it away if you run into action. When you hit your Ace, be wary of 2 pair in a busy unraised pot, and think about pushing your flush draw with a suited Big Slick. Call up these moves at your next session and youíll probably spook off the rest of the table.


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