Strategy for Playing A-K in No Limit Texas Hold em Poker


I watch a lot of novice players play Big Slick, or A-K and to a fault, about 90%+ of them have the same problem when playing this hand: they miss play it after the Flop. As I am sure you are aware, A-K is one of the top 5 hands you can be dealt. However, how you play it post flop can be tricky, especially in tournament play.

For example, I watched a player raise from middle position in a Full Tilt multi table tournament yesterday while I was on the button with J-T suited. Having watched this player for a few hands, he was pretty loose and I had position, so I made the call. The Flop came T-7-5 rainbow.

This is where is gets tricky. There is nothing wrong with a continuation bet, but it is one of the most commonly over used plays in internet poker (that and the check-raise) and tends to mean almost nothing. If you have watched a player who is fairly aggressive play a few hands, it is usually quite easy to see that he will make a continuation bet regardless of the Flop. In this case he made a pot sized bet.

Pot sized was too much, in my opinion. It tells me he is bluffing. If he would have hit top pair, he would have been more likely to make a 1/2 pot sized bet to build the pot and keep me around. I raise by doubling his bet. Here is another classic mistake: he calls.

Folks, don’t call this bet if you have nothing. You made your continuation bet and it was sniffed out, let it go. If he truly had a hand, he would have re-raised me all-in. By calling all he did was make me CERTAIN he didn’t have a hand, whereas, I was only partly sure before.

Anyway, the Turn was another 5. He checked and I checked back. Why? To make him think I was bluffing.

Sure enough, the River is a 2, he leads out all-in thinking he has me, I call, he flips over A-K and I double up with my pair of T’s. Simple when you look at it this way, but it happens in online poker all the time. Remember, A-K is just an Ace high if nothing hits to improve the hand. Do not make the mistake of overplaying it, and do not make the mistake of talking yourself into thinking it is more powerful after the Flop than it really is.

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