Holdem Poker Basics - Playing Ace/King
There is one hand in Texas Hold ‘Em that you will hear a lot about as you begin to play the game. It is commonly called Big Slick, and it is when you are dealt an Ace and a King. AK can be a powerful hand, but it can turn on you and become deadly in the blink of an eye. Let’s take a closer look at this unique hand. There are two types of Big Slick. One is when you are dealt an Ace and a King and they are suited.
The other type is when they are not suited. As you might imagine, the suited AK is more powerful (pre-flop) than the unsuited AK. The reason for this is simple but important. A suited AK holds potential for becoming the nut flush if you happen to draw two or three of the same suit on the Flop, Turn, or River. Having the nuts means that you have the highest ranked hand possible for that particular rank.
Let’s say your Hold cards are the Ace and King of clubs. Three more clubs show up on the Flop. You now have the nut flush because there is no other club higher than the Ace of clubs that you hold in your hand. Because you also hold the King of clubs, you have the five clubs needed to make a flush. If someone else is holding two clubs, they will lose to you because of your Ace. A nut flush is a very powerful hand and is not easily beat. But that does not mean it cannot be beat! Be careful and keep your eye on the community cards. Remember, a Full House will beat even the best Flush, and that includes yours! It is also worth remembering that it is impossible for anyone to get a Full House unless there is at least one pair on the board. If there are no pairs on the board by the River card, then there can be no Full House in someone’s hand. The same applies to Four-of-a-Kind.
No player against you can have Quad’s if there isn’t at least one pair showing on the board. Lastly, a Straight Flush will beat you, too, so keep an eye out for that sequence of cards. It’s unlikely this will happen, but it could. Now there is the possibility that you won’t see the suit that you need to make your Flush on the flop. In fact, you may not see even one card with the suit that you need to go along with that suited AK in your hand. When this happens, your AK suited becomes no more powerful than an AK unsuited, and it’s very important that you change gears and play the AK as if the Flush was not even an option. When you are playing an AK and there is no possibility for a Flush draw, then you have think about pairing up or making a set. The AK in your hand, even if it is suited, will be beat by as low a hand as a pair of 2’s if you do not improve your hand. If you have AK unsuited pre-flop, you want to see a flop, but you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money in order to do so. If an Ace or a King shows up on the Flop, you are in much better shape to play the remainder of the hand.
However, if you don’t pick up an Ace or a King on the Flop, you need to be careful about putting in more money if someone raises to you. Whether you call the bet or fold will depend on some variables: Who you are playing against, how many players are left in the game at the time of the raise, and your level of skill and confidence. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, AK is great starting hand, but it can go south in hurry if you don’t catch the Flop. As your level of experience increases, you’ll get a sense of when to fold that AK and when to hold it for a look at another card. In the meantime, it is a fairly good rule of thumb to fold that AK if you don’t pick up at least an Ace or a King on the Flop and someone raises to you. Chances are fairly good that they made their pair on the Flop and even though that AK looks good in your hand, it may not be worth very much and it almost certainly is not worth a big bet call on your part. Be happy with AK in your hand, but watch out. It can slap you down and sooner or later it will slap you down. That, by the way, happens to all of us.
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