Ace-king suited or Big Slick as it’s affectionately known is the ultimate drawing hand in poker. It’s a hand that when played correctly will win you big pots or lose you small ones. Unlike the rest of the top five hands in Hold’em it’s not a pocket pair. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, as it plays differently and can be a vehicle for outplaying your opponent. We’ll take a look at the odds behind ace-king below as well as provide some basic tips about how to play the hand.
Ace-king suited is the single best hand in Hold’em that isn’t a pocket pair.
It sets at the very top of the drawing hands representing the best possible way to hit either the best straight or the best flush.
Poker is a game where having the second best hand is the easiest way to lose your entire stack and ace-king is one of the best ways to avoid that.
In general ace-king tends to be a very polarizing hand where you either have the nuts or a modest ace-high. That can make the hand very easy to lay down, which can save players from committing chips to a losing proposition.
Two of the most profitable ways to win with ace-king are as follows:
Ace-king has an interesting relationship with pocket jacks. Jacks are technically the better pre-flop hand versus any two random cards but jacks also have an unfortunate habit of losing massive pots to pocket aces, kings and queens so there are quite a number of poker players who prefer to get Big Slick over jacks.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the standard situations you’ll find yourself in with ace-king suited:
As you can see by the numbers, ace-king is a hand that wants to see a flop most of the time. The most you’re going to be ahead of a player pre-flop is 78% and that’s against the lowly king-deuce with a shared suit, which is unlikely to see play.
Even against more likely hands like ace-queen or king-queen, ace-king is still only about a 75% favorite, which isn’t quite the margin that aces or kings tends to have pre-flop.
All the following numbers are regarding ace-king suited. When the hand is unsuited it definitely loses a bit of its luster as it’s much more difficult to make a flush.
Tips for Playing Ace-King
Ace-king is a very good hand that plays quite a bit differently than its big pocket pair siblings that also utilize broadway cards.
Big Slick is hand that changes dramatically after the flop. If you manage to get a good piece of the flop than there’s a decent chance that you might be scooping a big pot. On the other hand if you miss the flop than you are stuck with ace-high and are easily beaten by even a pair of deuces.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as it’s polarizing nature can help weaker players from over-committing to a pot.
A lot of players take the strategy of getting at least one bet in prior to the flop (in order to maximize value) or calling a bet to see the flop.
If you manage to hit either an ace or king-high flop then you’ve got top-pair, top-kicker, which can be a fantastic way to pick off hands like ace-queen or king queen and you can start firing some bets.
On the other hand if you flop a straight or a flush draw than you can call a bet in order to see the turn (depending on the size). It’s important, however, to mix up your range and bet your draws occasionally so that your opponents don’t read you like a book.
The important thing to remember with ace-king is that it’s a drawing hand. It’s not a made one.
That means you shouldn’t necessarily be scared of seeing a flop with multiple players because you might spike top-pair, top kicker or even the nut flush or nut straight. If your opponent has a worse flush or straight then there’s a good chance you’re going to win a bit pot.
It should also be mentioned that ace-king is a very good hand for shoving when you are relatively short stacked in a tournament. You’ll get calls from lesser aces and sometimes you’ll be flipping against pocket queens and pocket jacks.
One Simple Trick for Playing Ace-King
It might sound counterintuitive but if you’re in a casual home game tournament setting don’t be afraid of overshoving against opponents with ace-king.
The only hands that dominate you are pocket aces and pocket kings and it’s extremely unlikely you will be up against those hands.
Furthermore, for whatever reason people love to make huge calls with hands like AQ, KQ or even KT when they are still learning the game. It really depends on the game but a lot of players don’t realize just how many chips they have behind.
On the other hand you’ll sometimes be able to get players with pocket jacks or pocket queens to lay it down, which represents a big win. Even if those players call you’re still coinflipping for a chance to become one of the early chip leaders.
Don’t try this one at an experienced table, however, as experienced players are unlikely to call with weak aces or KQ.
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Odds Shark Staff Fri, Apr 29, 3:28pmPoker
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