Playing Ace King in Tournaments?

Surely ace king is the most overplayed hand in the history of no limit poker tournaments.  Specifically when played by players who are impatient or new to the game. Invariably in online poker tournaments whenever someone in a hand is holding ace king you are probably going to either witness or participate in an oversized pot. Whether or not you play in online casinos, this matters!

What a lot of players do not understand is that AK is a drawing hand that rather incessantly needs to improve in order to play a big pot.  The way you play Ace King has a lot to do with conditions 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 looks you up.  There are really only two hands that you do not want to see flip over – pocket aces or KK. Anything else and you are at worst a slight underdog against a single opponent.

But there are a lot of situations where ace king should be playing with caution.  Early in the tourney, be it in a casino online or live, even with a hand as good as AK 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 entirely a hand that you want to let your tournament ride on in the early stages.  So if you do hit an ace or a king on the flop you are very likely ahead, but if your opponents decides to stay in the hand you need to be very concerned about straights, two pair, flushes and three of a kind. In fact, on a dangerous board in the early stages you may have to consider folding your top pair hand if the pot gets too big.

If you have your opponent out-of-position pre-flop, but you hit nothing but air, he may very well put out a feeler bet to see what you will do. Then all of a sudden you’ve got a tough decision 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 the community 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 ragged flop, you’re almost always going to be involved in a contentious hand. That is something you want to avoid in low blind tournament stages, as well as against hostile players.

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 depleting my chances of hitting the flop. If you aren’t short stacked, try and get to see a affordable flop that helps you, then bet out.  Calculating on what your opponent does can determine your play for the turn and river.  That’s when opponent profiling can be a factor too.  Ideally you want to keep Ace King a paying hand for you, and only play big pots with strong flops.

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One thought on “Playing Ace King in Tournaments?

  1. Pingback: » Blog Archive » So You Bluff Didn’t Work – Is It Time To Back Down?

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