Jan 28 2010

How to Play AK

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

AK is a tricky hand to play. AK is an incredibly strong hand, there is no debating that, but at the same time it is not a made hand. Any pocket pair has an edge over AK. Part of the reason why AK is so valuable stems from the times where it is able to take down a pot before you even get to the flop.

Poker players have a tendency to think that AK is only going to turn them a profit if they are “lucky” enough to connect with the board. This is completely incorrect. Think about how many hands have AK crushed, there are only two, AA and KK. Even when you do face KK you will have a shot at pairing your ace. You are definitely at a big disadvantage when you get AK all in vs. AA, but even then you still have a chance to take down the pot. You will only see a lot of value from AK once you learn to play it correctly.

No-Limit Hold’em, $1.00 BB (9 handed) @ Poker Stars

Button ($104.35)

SB ($192)

BB ($89.40)

UTG ($140.52)

UTG+1 ($129.73)

MP1 ($30.02)

Hero (MP2) ($103.35)

MP3 ($95)

CO ($104.57)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with Kc, Ad

UTG calls $1, 2 folds, Hero bets $6, 2 folds, Button raises to $20.50, 3 folds, Hero raises to $64, Button raises to $104.35 (All-In), Hero calls $39.35 (All-In)

Pre flop we are dealt AK and are in early position. There is a limper ahead of us and there are a lot of players left to act behind us. Since there are so many other people in the pot we should raise a bit more than normal, 6x the big blind in this case. We are then 3-bet by a player who has position on us. This persons re raise can basically mean one of two things. Either they have a strong hand and are trying to extract value or they are simply making a squeeze play. A squeeze play is when a player makes a 3-bet in an attempt to take down the pot pre flop. No matter what they have, it would make no sense for us to simply call the re raise. Why not call the re raise? Because if we call the re raise (as opposed to folding or 4-betting) we will be left to play the pot out of position post flop. You should try to avoid any out of position situation whenever possible. Plus, if we do hit the flop we will have a tough time getting paid off by hands such as JJ or QQ because they will be scared of the over card.

The correct move in this situation is to 4-bet. When you 4-bet you will either force the other player to fold (which is a great outcome) or you will be able to get the majority, if not all, of your stack in pre flop. There will be times that you will run into KK or AA, but more often than not you will either force a fold, and make $20+ in the process, or you will be all in with the best hand. Don’t worry about the times that you are coolered by KK or AA, just remember that it is the correct move, no matter what the outcome might be in any given situation.

Flop: ($209.20) 9c, 4c, As (2 players, 2 all-in)

Turn: ($209.20) 10c (2 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($209.20) 10h (2 players, 2 all-in)

Total pot: $209.20 | Rake: $3.50


Button had Qh, Qs (two pair, Queens and tens).

Hero had Kc, Ad (two pair, Aces and tens).

Outcome: Hero won $411.40

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