Key Hands Part One

For the next few Pro Tips we will look at individual holdings and show you some basic thinking behind them.

Playing AK

A lot of the time you should play this hand as if it were a big pair. It is statistically unlikely they you are up against KK or AA. With regards to evens shots you will get into them. They key stat is not how many you win (everyone thinks they lose most of them) it is how often you got the money in first (particularly if you knew you would be in an evens shot and the opponent had a chance to pass).

With AK you want to be setting your opponent in rather than calling if it is likely that they have any pair. So, structure your bets accordingly and be prepared to lay down pre-flop if you would need to call for all your chips. This is obviously dependant on exact chip position though.

If you have been called when you have AK how do you play a rag flop against one opponent? This can be hard when you are first in line but a strong play is to represent the big pair with a substantial bet. Often your opponent has called with two big cards, a small pair that they hope to hit or even suited connectors, most of the time they will have missed and will give it up. Against two or more opponents, be much more cautious, probably only bet if you are last in line against two players and check against more.

There is another way that you can play AK rather than moving all in for a re- raise. That is to raise just about half your stack if you think you might be in an evens shot and then to automatically bet the rest on the flop. You are odds against to hit either your ace or king and this will give you another opportunity to win the pot when you and your opponent would have got it all in pre-flop anyway and you still get your five cards if he calls.

Playing against AK

Play strong on a rag flop, whatever your hand, if you have good reason to have your opponent on AK or AQ.