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Playing with Ace King in Tournaments   Back

I am sure many of you have heard players complaining having lost a big pot with A K. Reckless aggression is a frequent mistake when holding Ace King.  In particular by those players who do not understand how vulnerable this hand can be. Regularly in poker online games tourneys whenever somebody in a hand is holding ace king you are probably going to either witness or take part in an oversized pot.

The tendency for impatient players is to think of ace king as a made hand when in fact, it is actually only a drawing hand - mind you a very strong drawing hand.  The way you play Ace King has a lot to do with the circumstances in the tournament.  For example, it is really not bad to push pre-flop when you are short stacked because with AK you are almost never in bad shape against anybody who decides to call.  There are truly only two hands that you do not want to see flipped over - aces and pocket kings. Anything else and you are at worst a slim underdog against a single opponent.

But there are a lot of situations where ace king should be played with caution.  Early in the online poker tournament, even with a hand as strong as ace king you still want to keep the pot small unless that flop has really helped you.  Top pair and top kicker is a good hand, but it's not necessarily a hand that you want to let your tournament ride on in the starting levels.  So if you do hit an ace or a king on the flop you are very likely ahead, but if your opponents decides to hang around you need to be very concerned about straights, two pair, flushes and three of a kind. In fact, on a dangerous looking flop in the early levels you may have to consider folding your top pair hand if the pot gets too big.

Another situation would be where somebody with a dominated hand calls you, and you both miss the flop, however if your opponent is first to act he just may very well bet out. Then all of a sudden you've got a difficult choice to make because you will be calling with an ace-high hand.  If you think about it, AK is really a hand that you want to see all five cards, because you have a very good chance of hitting the turn or river and making the best hand. However, if you hit nothing on a raggedy flop, you're almost always going to be involved in a marginal hand. That is something you want to avoid in low blind tournament stages, as well as against hostile players. The strategy changes as the blinds go up and you can use more aggression later on.

There is also another consideration because I also like to play big slick cautiously if there are multiple limpers before me.  True, you could raise and narrow the field but with multiple players interested in the pot, my tendency is to think that they are also holding high cards too, further decreasing my chances of hitting the flop. If you aren't short stacked, try and get to see an affordable flop that helps you, then bet out. What your opposition does can influence your play for the turn and river.  That is when opponent profiling can come into play too.  Ideally you want to keep Ace King a lucrative hand for you, and only play big pots with strong flops.

 

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