Playing AK in Poker

by admin | posted in Poker articles

Playing AK in Poker

Ace King is a strong starting hand but it can also be tricky to play correctly. There is no single right way to play AK because everything depends on the situation at hand. However, we do have a few tips that will help you learn how to think when playing AK. That way you will have a flexible, dynamic strategy with AK instead of a single default play.

One thing to remember with AK is that although it is one of the strongest starting hands in poker, it is by no means invincible. Many average hands are just slight dogs to AK so you cannot play this hand in the same way you would play AA or KK. Ace King usually needs help from the board to win hands that go to a showdown.

Playing AK Before the Flop

Ace King should almost always be raised before the flop if nobody else has raised yet. This is one of the strongest starting hands in poker, so you need to raise it to get value for the hand. Raising also makes the hand easier for you to play because it takes control of the hand and forces your opponents to play more straightforward.

If there has already been a raise before the flop, the correct play depends on the situation at the table. If you know anything about your opponent, you can adjust your play based on his raising tendencies. If the opponent is average or aggressive, a 3-bet is usually the best play unless you are out of position and the raiser is skilled / tricky.

Against tight opponents, the correct play depends a little more on the situation. If the original raiser is super nitty, you won’t see any value in 3-betting. In that case, you would be best served to flat call and see what happens on the flop. Against an average tight player, a 3-bet is still fine. They will fold preflop or concede on the flop often enough to make re-raising a good play.

If you raise and someone else 3-bets you, the correct play depends on your position and the type of player you are up against. If you are out of position and the opponent is not crazy, a fold is often the best play. This may sound like nitty advice but it’s very difficult to play AK for a profit from out of position against someone who has taken control of the hand.

Unless you are playing in a tournament, you should rarely get all-in with Ace King before the flop. It’s a strong hand and all, but it’s not nearly strong enough against the range of hands that most people are willing to get all-in before the flop. The only exceptions would be against complete maniacs or if you or your opponent is short stacked.

Playing AK After the Flop

Ace King is much easier to play after the flop if it is played correctly before the flop. Assuming you played Ace King as suggested above, you will have the power of aggression on most flops. Against a single opponent, your default play with Ace King should be to bet any flop. You established control of the hand earlier and told your opponent that you have a strong hand. In this situation, a bet will win the majority of pots outright.

Against a group of opponents, betting the flop is not recommended unless you have a legitimate hand. There are just too many other potential hands out there that stealing will not work frequently enough to make a profit. In multi-way pots, you will need some kind of legitimate hand to win the showdown.

Remember that there is nothing that says you have to win every pot with Ace King. This hand is not invincible and there will be plenty of times when you have to fold it. If you miss your hand and can’t get your opponent to fold, you do not need to push anything. You won’t win every pot every time.

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