Big SlickIn poker the hand Ace, King is known as big slick. It's a hand we all love to see as we lift our hole cards but it's a hand that many beginners can end up over playing. For years I have seen players on poker forums post AK hands "did I play this wrong?" threads over and over. Don't get me wrong, it is one of the best starting hands but it is also only ace high if it remains unimproved. I want to look at big slick in a few situations to help give you a clearer understanding of it's value.
Is AK really a coin flip?If you were to get big slick (AK) all in pre flop against say QQ, JJ or TT then AK is about 44% favorite to with against any of these hands. Now if you get it all in against say 22,33 or 44 then is almost a coin flip at 47.2% and the reason it improves is because the lowest pairs will get counter fitted by the board a certain amount of the time. So against all pairs from QQ - 22 AK is essentially a small under dog to win if all the money goes in pre flop.
Hands that crush AKThere are two main hands that Ace, King (blig slick) fear and they are pocket Aces and Kings. These two hands really have us in trouble. Against a pair of Kings pokerstove has us as an 31% favorite to win and vs Aces, things looks very glum as we drop to an 8% favorite to pick up the pot. But the bright side is that due to card removal (we have an ace and a king in our hand, making it less likely for someone else to have Aces or Kings) we will face AA and KK less than we will face all other pairs and of course our bread and butter, dominated aces.
Where AK makes it's money - Dominated HandsThis is where Ace, King wins most of it's reasonable sized pots. Against dominated hands like AQ, AJ, AT, KQ, KJ and suited small aces like A2-A9 suited we are a 72% favorite against this range of hands. So when you find yourself on a dry ace or king high flop and someone is calling your bets, then often you'll find that you'll be against this kind of range and depending on how good or bad your opponent is will depend on how much value you can extract from your hand. In conclusion Ace, King is a hand that wins lots of small and sometimes medium pots but in cash games is not normally a hand that you want to play for all of your money when all you have is top pair (unless you have a good read on a super fishy player that over plays weak top pairs). I play the hand aggressively pre flop and always open for a raise, it's a hand that I'd sooner player in a heads up pot than in a multi way pots as it's strength is in picking up lots of small pots. Don't feel as if you can't let go of the hand post flop, I see far too many newer players getting too attached to the hand just because it is AK, remember that if you're getting lots of action in front of you, your pair or ace high is probably smoke, don't be stubborn. Good Luck
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