Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Playing Big Slick

Ace KingI often hear complaints about often people lose big pots with AK. These cases are not always straight bad luck, truth is big slick is probably the most misplayed hand in poker.

First off, it is not a calling hand. AK is premium and should be played as such. I understand that if you have lost with it in the past you don't want to commit a lot of chips to it in the present, but calling pre-flop with big slick is a big mistake. When you bet or raise you have two ways to win, your opponent may fold, or you may end up with the better hand in a showdown. Calling or checking only ever gives you one avenue of winning. This is true for all hands, but with AK you have the added bonus of rarely being behind pre-flop.

The hand will hit the flop 33% of the time. By the river it will improve 50% of the time. The same is true for any two un-paired cards, but the strength in AK is that if both players hit, chances are the AK will win. If neither player hits, the AK will surely win.

The likely hands that will stay with you if you play correct pre-flop strategy will be mid to high pocket pairs and, best case scenario, the dominated AQ or AJ. If you are against poker pairs they are unlikely to improve which not only means that if you hit you will be stronger, but also as more community cards are shown they are more easily bluffed. Long story short, you should continue betting the flop turn and river regardless if you improve.

Now, the other mistake people make with big slick is that they think it is too premium. It is a drawing hand and any time you are raised you have to be prepared to fold. I didn't say fold, but be prepared to fold. This depends on the circumstances of the hand. AK is extremely beatable once the community cards start rolling out.

What about pockets aces and pocket kings? Well, we can't live our life in fear of these hands. If you are raised after your big pre-flop raise, the possibility of AK being behind should be explored. Luckily, if your opponent is ever going to show a tell, it will probably be here, so stay aware.

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