Poker Hands Tips: Playing Ace-King, or Big Slick, Preflop in Tournaments
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Poker Hands Tips: Playing Ace-King, or Big Slick, Preflop in Tournaments

Ace-King is a popular preflop hand, and this article will give tips on playing it preflop.

What's the fuss about Anna Kournikova, or Big Slick, or Ace-King (A-K)? Doyle Brunson, in his famous work Super/System, is a bit averse about A-K in a proposition bet: he insists that even Pocket Deuces (2-2) can beat A-K when played hot and cold, and also boasts of winning thousands of dollars from the 2-2 against the A-K. Despite the beauty of A-K, and its various uses in tournament poker, it is still a borderline hand for many mature poker players, because with a small Pair you already have a made hand, but with A-K you need to take it to the Flop before you get anything worthwhile. Therefore preflop play with A-K is very important to analyze.

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Preflop, Ace-King is very strong, especially if you have the courage to reraise with it after someone has raised. Almost always, try to reraise an initial raiser if you have A-K, because he or she is likely to give up weaker Aces which couldn't withstand a reraise, like A-Q or lower; small pocket pairs (some players may even give up Q-Q after a reraise); and suited connectors. Winning the pot early on a hand is often an intelligent play in a tournament where the blinds and antes of every hand count.

If your reraise gets reraised again, it is time to decide whether your A-K is worth all your chips. Often, that depends on your reads. If you feel that the other player had A-Q or lower, then call. If you feel, however, that the other player had a small pair, which makes your A-K even-money with it, then think about your stack. How much of your stack are you willing to give? 10%? 20%?

It is also fine to just call with A-K, if you do not want to tangle with another player. Calling with A-K preflop is also crafty, because postflop, you can easily get away from it if you don't hit anything.

Many young Internet players push back all-in with their A-K; the more conservative ones, echoing Doyle Brunson's beliefs, decide to fold.

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In early position, if you have plenty of chips, just raise A-K with a standard raise (2.5 - 3 big blinds) to conceal the strength of your hand. If you are running out of chips, in any position, you can push all-in! That is the best hand that you may have had for a long time, so go! If you get called with a smaller Pair, you are on a coin flip, and that's finer than blinding and anteing out in the tournament without fighting back. Many players are also comfortable calling with A-Q or lower, and that places your A-K as a 3-to-1 favorite. (Don't worry about being called with K-K or A-A; it's not all the time, anyway.)

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It is annoying to lose with Ace-King preflop, but many people still don't expect it. They should remember Doyle Brunson's story. Ace-King is spectacular, but it is easy to get too cocky with it. But knowing the conditions in which the hand is best played will increase your chances of winning preflop and scooping your chips.

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