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Old 03-16-2019, 09:53 AM   #1
Pensfan
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I simply do not know how to play AK.

I'm a nit, and I know it, but even I feel like a bit of a dumbass when I fold AK preflop, but I'm getting killed with it. A bit of back story I mostly game up playing last year and haven't played much this year, but in 6 sessions I've managed to get felted every time. I just run like garbage. Go me.

I feel like if I'm not willing to get into big pots with AK pre then I really shouldn't play, but I'm donking off with it, I think.

How do you play AK in your typical 1/3 live game where opening it to $15 from EP nets you the typical 4-5 callers and the flop is 3 6 9?

What about when a loose player raises, do you three bet with it? If you do what do you do on a similar ragged flop as above?

What about when OMC three bets before it gets to you? Ok to fold?

How about when you actually hit an A or K on the flop, if it's not a suited or connected flop do you play it like the nuts? Are you willing to get it in against all but the tightest of players on a flop of A Q 7?


When you are a nit you don't play many hands to begin with and firing AK into the muck pre flop make you feel like the only hands you will play is AA and KK (and probably get those beat). All I know is I may be getting too results oriented, but I'm bleeding chips with AK and it is more than likely that I just don't know how to play it.

**** me.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:17 AM   #2
Chicagodude
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

1. I never c-bet into 4 or 5 players (or even 3) on a 3 6 9 board with AK.
2. Make sure you 3B for 3 times the raise (at least). If you min raise that's a disaster pre I think. 4x is probably better.
3. Always fold AK to an OMC's 3!
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:23 AM   #3
Dtrain555
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

you will only hit the flop 1/3 of the time with AK. If you only raise AA and KK then I would play it the same as AA on a 369 board and barrel all three streets.

I would 3! A loose player 100% with AK
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:53 AM   #4
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

Always open AK, if itís Been opened always 3bet. If itís been opened and 3bet always 4bet.

(UNLESS ITS AN OMC GEEZ)

And then facing a jam preflop the math u gotta know is that AK has 39% equity vs QQ+/AK so if youre getting better pot odds than that call it off
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:58 AM   #5
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

the main issue here is that you're not happy to look down at AK, this is a problem

I see players brag about folding AK saying " I hate that hand "

learn to love the premiums, yes you will get sucked out on , would you rather play garbage?

this is the nature of the game
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:10 AM   #6
BarryDREAMstein
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

If youíre opening 15 and getting 4-5 callers pre then you need to start opening to 20. If you do get called in 4 spots, you should be giving up the vast majority of the time when you donít hit.

You should be 3betting a lot with AK. Someone who only 3bets aces and kings is so easy to play against. But if all you do is add AK to your range, you become significantly more difficult to deal with.

If the flop comes something like AQ5 in a 3bet pot, should you be getting it all in? This is largely dependent on stack sizes. The deeper you are, the less enthused you should be to get your stack in with one pair.

Against one opponent you should be c-betting on a ton of flops. Exceptions would a flop like 9TJ that hits your opponentís calling range hard. You can come up with a typical opponents calling range and put it in Flopzilla to see what kinds of flops are best for them.

Also keep in mind that against one opponent, your AK is often best even when not improved on the flop. This is most true on paired flops like 559 or something.

You need to start paying attention to and thinking about what your opponents 3bet-calling ranges are. Will they only call your 3bet with like AK, 99-JJ. This should greatly impact how you play vs someone who is going to call with a much wider range. For instance, in the above-mentioned 559 flop, against the tight caller you should be much less inclined to 3bet.

Finally, try not to be results oriented. AK is a phenomenal hand. It sounds like youíre probably just running bad with it now.


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Old 03-16-2019, 11:33 AM   #7
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmo1120 View Post
the main issue here is that you're not happy to look down at AK, this is a problem

I see players brag about folding AK saying " I hate that hand "

learn to love the premiums, yes you will get sucked out on , would you rather play garbage?

this is the nature of the game
I mean, I get it, but I'm not sure me loving or hating the hand changes the outcome. I do admit to looking at it and thinking "****, I have to play this and I'm gonna lose money".
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:45 AM   #8
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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I mean, I get it, but I'm not sure me loving or hating the hand changes the outcome. I do admit to looking at it and thinking "****, I have to play this and I'm gonna lose money".


Damn Iím a nit and when I look down at Ak my first thought is LETS GET IT INNNN
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:45 AM   #9
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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I mean, I get it, but I'm not sure me loving or hating the hand changes the outcome. I do admit to looking at it and thinking "****, I have to play this and I'm gonna lose money".
yea i don't mean to be harsh , but there are plenty of tough spots and situations in poker, and playing AK pre-flop isn't really one of those spots

change your mind set from , "I have to " to " I get to " play this hand

think about your opponents calling ranges when you raise w AK

a lot of AX and KX that you dominate, folding this hand pre-flop is a huge leak

and when you miss the flop multi-way it is fine to not cb into the field, if you are HU then you can cb at a much higher frequency
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Old 03-16-2019, 12:09 PM   #10
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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Originally Posted by Pensfan View Post
How do you play AK in your typical 1/3 live game where opening it to $15 from EP nets you the typical 4-5 callers and the flop is 3 6 9?
With 4+ callers mostly just check/fold. Occasionally c-bet if you have some back door equity from straight/flush draws when your in position and may get to check the turn.

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Originally Posted by Pensfan View Post
What about when a loose player raises, do you three bet with it? If you do what do you do on a similar ragged flop as above?
Against a loose raiser with no calls raise almost every time. If you are in LP and expect to have position post flop heads up then flat call preflop 25% or so. If there are already calls then consider the callers but mostly still raise.

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What about when OMC three bets before it gets to you? Ok to fold?
Yes. If OMC is sufficiently tight you can fold when he opens the pot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pensfan View Post
How about when you actually hit an A or K on the flop, if it's not a suited or connected flop do you play it like the nuts? Are you willing to get it in against all but the tightest of players on a flop of A Q 7?
Hitting the flop I would go with a lot of bet/check/bet and bet/bet/check lines unless I know villain is bad enough to call 3 bets with AJ/KQ.

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Originally Posted by Pensfan View Post
All I know is I may be getting too results oriented, but I'm bleeding chips with AK and it is more than likely that I just don't know how to play it.
AK will feel that way a lot. It's a great starting hand but if you don't hit the flop you are mostly going to lose money and when you do it's pretty obvious. It's easy to have long streaks where you make money and lose money.
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Old 03-16-2019, 05:46 PM   #11
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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Originally Posted by Pensfan View Post
How about when you actually hit an A or K on the flop, if it's not a suited or connected flop do you play it like the nuts? Are you willing to get it in against all but the tightest of players on a flop of A Q 7?

. . . I'm bleeding chips with AK and it is more than likely that I just don't know how to play it.

**** me.
I'm going to guess this is one of the major contributors to your losses with AK.

One of the central truths of poker is that TP wins lots of small pots, but loses the majority of big pots. Phil Galfond pointed out years ago that he hated AK because it was the one hand most people put you on when you raise pf. If on a flop of AQ7, you bet, the villain raises and you shove, you can be confident that you're only going to get called by better hands.

The solution is that against even mediocre LLSNL players, you shouldn't be looking to put people all in with AK post flop. Now if they are putting you all in on the flop, that's a different matter.
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Old 03-16-2019, 05:54 PM   #12
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

I have over 10,000 hours of poker played and years of high-stakes experience and AK is my least favorite hand in poker.

BTW the fact that everyone puts you on AK can be used to your advantage since most of the time you won't actually have AK. While that AQ7 flop is a not great flop to get value with AK when they put you on AK, it's a great spot to blast off with JT if they won't call you light. Which is why in tougher games, when people realize that you won't always have AK and expect you to bluff, your AK becomes a value hand there again for multiple streets!
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Old 03-16-2019, 05:57 PM   #13
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

Whenever you play a new game, whether you're good at it or not, it gives you new perspectives about your best game. I recently learnt basic strategy and played a few hands of blackjack (never playing much of it again). Previously if I had 11 against a dealer 7+, I would hit (especially if I had more than the min-bet invested), but basic strategy in blackjack dictates that you always double-down on 7 irrespective of the dealer up-card.

So, while AA is a blackjack, a sure thing, AK is basically a 11. It is still a premium hand that you're dealt, and in a game where you see 93o and 84o often, you cannot afford to *not* play AK like the premium hand it is. Whether you win the pot or lose the pot with AK does not matter as much as the way you choose to play AK as this will contribute to your image, which is paramount in poker. If you play AK passively, it will enable your opponents to play better (even nearly perfectly) against you, because they will rightly label you as a nit.

Here's how I play I AK (and really I'm looking for feedback on my AK play too).

Pre-flop:
1) I always open to my standard open amount (4x bb in 2/5, and 5x bb in lower).
2) I always 3-bet to 3x the open.
3) I never 4-bet and always call a 3-bet. This is something I need to work on as I move up in stakes, since I'm capping my range (and also turning my 4-bets face-up) by calling and never 4-betting AK pre.

Flop:
4) I always bet half-pot or a little over on 100% of the flops, if I'm the pre-flop aggressor.
5) I always call one-bet of half-pot or a little over on 100% of the flops.

Turn:
6) I bet half-pot on boards where I have TPTK and fire the second barrel (half-pot) on paired/low-card flops where I get my flop barrel called.
7) I might check other boards, but I balance this by checking sets (which I check-raise) and overpairs (which I check-call) some amount of the time on the turn too.

River:
8) About 50% of the time I bet TPTK for value, and 50% of the time I check-call.
9) Against extremely weak players who might be drawing or have a weak made hand, I fire the third barrel with air.
10) If it seems extremely fishy and on fishy boards I might call a bet with AK high.

I do win more often than I lose by playing this way, but this makes me super unpredictable and difficult to play against for 90% of the player pool, which pays off handsomely in other hands.

Last edited by RottPhiler; 03-16-2019 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:32 PM   #14
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

1. x/f
2. Raise big, CBet always, get the money in ASAP.
3. Fold
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Old 03-17-2019, 09:42 AM   #15
Tiluh
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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Originally Posted by RottPhiler View Post
Whenever you play a new game, whether you're good at it or not, it gives you new perspectives about your best game. I recently learnt basic strategy and played a few hands of blackjack (never playing much of it again). Previously if I had 11 against a dealer 7+, I would hit (especially if I had more than the min-bet invested), but basic strategy in blackjack dictates that you always double-down on 7 irrespective of the dealer up-card.

So, while AA is a blackjack, a sure thing, AK is basically a 11. It is still a premium hand that you're dealt, and in a game where you see 93o and 84o often, you cannot afford to *not* play AK like the premium hand it is. Whether you win the pot or lose the pot with AK does not matter as much as the way you choose to play AK as this will contribute to your image, which is paramount in poker. If you play AK passively, it will enable your opponents to play better (even nearly perfectly) against you, because they will rightly label you as a nit.

Here's how I play I AK (and really I'm looking for feedback on my AK play too).

Pre-flop:
1) I always open to my standard open amount (4x bb in 2/5, and 5x bb in lower).
2) I always 3-bet to 3x the open.
3) I never 4-bet and always call a 3-bet. This is something I need to work on as I move up in stakes, since I'm capping my range (and also turning my 4-bets face-up) by calling and never 4-betting AK pre.

Flop:
4) I always bet half-pot or a little over on 100% of the flops, if I'm the pre-flop aggressor.
5) I always call one-bet of half-pot or a little over on 100% of the flops.

Turn:
6) I bet half-pot on boards where I have TPTK and fire the second barrel (half-pot) on paired/low-card flops where I get my flop barrel called.
7) I might check other boards, but I balance this by checking sets (which I check-raise) and overpairs (which I check-call) some amount of the time on the turn too.

River:
8) About 50% of the time I bet TPTK for value, and 50% of the time I check-call.
9) Against extremely weak players who might be drawing or have a weak made hand, I fire the third barrel with air.
10) If it seems extremely fishy and on fishy boards I might call a bet with AK high.

I do win more often than I lose by playing this way, but this makes me super unpredictable and difficult to play against for 90% of the player pool, which pays off handsomely in other hands.

Having a 100% cbet on any board is a major leak, especially with a set sizing of over half pot. Generally if you're looking to fold out air, you don't need to 60% pot to achieve this. Each hand should be judged on it's merit, taking into account # V's, Range of V's, tendencies etc so having a set in stone strategy is really quite bad
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Old 03-17-2019, 11:11 AM   #16
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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Having a 100% cbet on any board is a major leak, especially with a set sizing of over half pot.
100% cbet on EVERY hand you raise preflop is a major leak. But if you pick out 1 particular hand in your raising range (AK for example) and cbet that 100% it is not a leak. Villains don't know your plan or your holding.

Agree cbet sizing can vary. But again, if you cbet heads up consistently with >50% pot regardless of holding villains don't know your holding
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Old 03-17-2019, 11:18 AM   #17
Tiluh
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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100% cbet on EVERY hand you raise preflop is a major leak. But if you pick out 1 particular hand in your raising range (AK for example) and cbet that 100% it is not a leak. Villains don't know your plan or your holding.

Agree cbet sizing can vary. But again, if you cbet heads up consistently with >50% pot regardless of holding villains don't know your holding
If you Cbet AKo vs 3 opponents on a flop of 789hhh, that's a major leak. Even heads up there are flops which we shouldn't be cbetting. If i'm MP vs a BB call then yes i'm cbetting 90% of the time but the idea of having a 100% rule for cbets is definitely a leak.
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Old 03-17-2019, 11:21 AM   #18
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

Lol cbetting that into 1 player is still a leak.

Lol people arguing for 100% cbet in 2019. Poker is dead.
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Old 03-17-2019, 12:03 PM   #19
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

lol that it’s still very possible to have losing sessions.
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Old 03-17-2019, 12:59 PM   #20
crsseyed
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

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Originally Posted by Tiluh View Post
If you Cbet AKo vs 3 opponents on a flop of 789hhh, that's a major leak. Even heads up there are flops which we shouldn't be cbetting. If i'm MP vs a BB call then yes i'm cbetting 90% of the time but the idea of having a 100% rule for cbets is definitely a leak.
Definitely yes. I should have been more specific. I meant heads up (with initiative) tho I didn't state that. Thanks for your correction.

Playing AK is not easy to describe in just a few words, But the optimal basics in low stakes NL: Raise preflop, Raise sizing goal is to get heads up (I know, not easy. Sometimes same size raise gets 5 callers, other times same size gets all folds).
Default is bet flop HU close to 100% (not flops like AAK, AAA, etc). Of course there's always rare spots/villains where you deviate from this.

When that doesn't happen, of course, it's all poker: Evaluate
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Old 03-17-2019, 04:24 PM   #21
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

One of the main reasons to play AK (and to 3! with it) is to have board coverage when an A or K flops. When you do connect with the board with top pair, generally you want a medium-sized pot by the river unless your opponent is a drooler who will call you down with AQ/AJ over three streets.

I agree with the above poster, it's one of my least favorite premium hands because, unlike pocket pairs, it almost never flops the nuts but will occasionally make a strong but second-best hand (like top/top against middle or bottom set). Also, everyone puts you on AK and will evaluate their hands based on how it does against AK post-flop. So when you get a lot of action on an A- or K-high flop after you cbet, it's probably best to let AK go.

Cbetting A-high with only two overs into multiple opponents is normally burning money.
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Old 03-18-2019, 04:36 AM   #22
Shai Hulud
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

You're probably thinking too much about your specific hand when you have AK. It's easy to 3 bet AK get called, see a flop like Q94tt or even 662r and think, now what? Especially OOP. Whole books have been written about playing AK, and you can consult said books for the gory details, so I'll be brief. Try to think more in terms of ranges. Is the board good for your range? Bad for opponent's range? Vice versa? Play accordingly. There are times to triple barrel Ace high and there are times to just give up. Most hands don't get to showdown. Your cards don't particularly matter aside from blocker effects, except when you get a lot of action. In HU and 3-way situations try to think less about your hand and more about the possible holdings of your opponents. Knowing basic combinatorics is useful.

In massively multiway pots (4+ to the flop) you should almost never c-bet if you miss, and sometimes you shouldn't even c-bet if you hit. You can play more straightforwardly in these situations. Be aware other players also play more straightforwardly in massively multiway pots. They let down their guard and it is often easy to tell which players bricked the flop and which didn't. If you observe your opponents keenly, particularly those to your left, as the flop is dealt, and after, until action is on you, then you will notice signs of disinterest or preparation to call/raise. In the former case you sometimes effectively reduce the field and can c-bet more often, and in the latter you should tread with caution. These tells are extremely prominent in 1/3 games. Nearly every player has them to some degree, whether their tell is a look of impatience, grabbing chips prematurely, holding cards differently when preparing to fold, etc.

And don't be a nit. You need experience playing non-made hands and you simply won't get it if you're afraid to play unpaired hole cards.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:57 AM   #23
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

Thanks for the replies all.
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:00 PM   #24
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

My table also plays loose where an EP raise will often go very mulitway to the flop.

So here's how I play AK at these tables.

First, I try to sit at a smallish effective stack, either myself or my opponents. 66bbs ($200 at 1/3 NL) works really well.

Second, I never raise AK myself, unless perhaps I'm in LP and it's been limped to me. But even overlimping in LP is fine at raisey tables if you can somewhat expect a raise from the Button/blinds behind you.

And then if it's raised preflop with multiple callers, I can just limp/raise. Depending on how many callers / pot size, I can either just jam right away, or I raise to a size that will setup a flop jam (and with me being OOP I'll usually be given the first option to bluff).

And if it happens to just limp around, whatever, I play a high SPR multiway pot and play very cautiously postflop (and probably quite passively until I find out what is going on), and folding the small pot if I see too much postflop action that I'm not a fan of.

Raising with AK and going to small SPR very multiway pots is just *so* bad, imo. All you're doing is allowing a bunch of people to ~nutmine against for very good IO (especially since you won't be able to fold TPTK in a small SPR pot). This is especially true in games where there isn't a lotta 3betting preflop (so even having a maniacal image instead of a tight/reg one isn't going to be of much help either).

ETA: Absolutely shocked that no one else has mentioned the limp/reraise idea at tables like these. Limp/reraising is *printing money* in this environment and also mostly sets up trivial decision spots (unless getting quite deeper where there will still be a lotta postflop streets to play). And FWIW, I *love* AK.

Gotherswilldisagree,butitissomethingtoconsider,imo G

Last edited by gobbledygeek; 03-18-2019 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 03-18-2019, 12:06 PM   #25
RottPhiler
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Re: I simply do not know how to play AK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobbledygeek View Post
First, I try to sit at a smallish effective stack, either myself or my opponents. 66bbs ($200 at 1/3 NL) works really well.
How do you manage this? I buyin for the max 167bb in my 1/3 games, and often I'm up over 300bbs within an hour. At some point, you're going to be above 100bbs, do you rack up and leave then? If not how do you play AK then, is the real question.
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