In this strategy series, CoinPoker’s Chief Community Manager and pro poker player Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier walks you through the basics of the game. Each No Mercy Monday comes with expert advice on how to play, and it all starts with starting hands. To be exact – with premium poker hands – Ace King.
Knowing how to play your starting hands is part of the very basic strategies in No Limit Hold’em Poker.
Last week, we examined the best ways to play Premium hands. Today we will have a closer look at the special case that is Ace King. After that we’ll be moving on with Drawing hands, Risky hands and Mediocre hands over the next weeks.
Special Case Ace King
I wanted to examine the special case that represents Ace King in a separate section, as this hand is a unique situation. Indeed, even though Ace King embodies a premium starting hand, it is not yet a “made hand”, which can lead to difficult decisions.
We all know the feeling of raising or three-betting with Ace King, only to see a trashy flop appearing in front of our eyes. Most of the time, the right play will be a continuation bet if you are the pre-flop raiser. However sometimes your small stack won’t allow you to do such a play. This explains why you will see a lot of players going all-in pre-flop with that hand.
Ace King is a 50% favorite against any pair other than AA and KK
Indeed, Ace King is a 50% favorite against any pair other than AA and KK, which makes it a very strong hand.
BUT, remember that these 50% odds apply only if you see the entire board of five cards. In brief, you are not 50/50 to hit your Ace or your King on a flop while facing pocket Jacks, but you are 50/50 to win the hand against pocket Jacks if you do see all five cards of the board.
That explains why so many players will push all-in while holding Ace King instead of simply raising. Especially if their stack won’t allow them to continuation bet on a bluff….
In other cases, when you are playing with a deep stack, it will be your responsibility to choose to continuation bet or not. To fire a second and third barrel or not. Your ability to evaluate the dangers of the board and to read the betting patterns of your opponents will be crucial.
Overall, the general rules that we saw last week also apply here, as Ace King is a premium hand even if it is not a made hand. Therefore, you will want to raise pre-flop to build the pot, to eliminate opponents, and to play your hand heads up to give it as much value as possible!
– Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier
Missed part 1? Here it is: How to play premium poker hands.