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Poker News: June 6, 2006

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HEADLINE: Poker Starting Hands - "AK Big Slick, Playing It Right"

Ace King ... It's monster hand and you plan to get as much money out of everyone as you can.

Big Slick is called Big Slick for a reason. Yes its a monster drawing hand but it is a drawing hand all the same.

If you hit either an Ace or a King on the flop then you've got yourself top pair with the best kicker. You might get lucky as is connected to get the nuts straight, if its suited you have got the table crippled if you draw that flush. It's worth noting A-K suited is 5th best starting hand but A-K off is 9th best.

But this is the thing - when you haven't seen any cards what have you got really ? An Ace high ... with a King kicker, just about any starting hand could beat it.

Top players know AK is a great drawing hand but they also know its can be a killer if it just doesn't work out. In the hands of a new player it has 4king bustout written all over it, quite simply they fall in love with it.

Now here is the next problem with playing AK - OK it's a drawing hand so your thinking - don't play it too hard until you see the flop and then you can work out how your doing ... Wrong.

Limping in with Big Slick is going to make you a big underdog - It is an easily beaten hand if you let lots of players see the flop, that ragged looking board could have given any of them trips, two pair, straights - allsorts. However AK doesnt fair so badly against a couple of player with other high cards.

You have to play big slick hard before the flop if your playing it. Get rid of all the players with low pairs, big draws and junk - With a big prefop raise you can be fairly sure the one (ideally) or two players left only have something high or decent pairs. Then you have the added advantage - you made the raise and you took control ... again. Dont make the mistake of trying to keep more people in to make a bigger pot for your "great hands" - thats how to make your own bad beats.

With most of the players in to see the flop your as good as giving your chips away - Play it aggressively, raise pre-flop and then hold yourself back when you see the flop.

But DO NOT go all-in before the flop - remember you've got an Ace high nothing more.

In this situation the only hands that are really going to cause you concern are AA and KK - but if someone had that they'd have come right back at your big raise with an all-in before the flop.

Chances are unless they hit trips with there good pair (see what they do) you can fire at them once you pair either the King or the Ace - infact you should fire out a good size bet even if you dont - remember you've already as good as shouted at them "my hands is a winner".

Then see what they do - if they come back at you know they've got something, probably trips - then you need to slow down accept your beat and try to see the rest of the cards cheap.

The chances are they will lay down just about most things that dont hit.

Now this all works well if you were easily able to take control of the table ie. you had good position to get a big raise in after you had seen what everyone else did but remember preflop this is - on the button and the two blinds. The worst postion to be trying to play AK from and indeed any other big hands like AA KK QQ is when your under the gun - this is the first seat after the blinds.

Why ? well your first to act before the flop and first to act after the flop. This seat is tricky especially if you dont hit an Ace or a King on the flop. Again the temptation is to flat call and see what happens ideally hoping someone else cuts the field down for you - thats risky - dont do it. Not only are you risking players limp in, your letting other players get control.

They will sense weakness and have position over you so you could very easily end up facing an all-in decision after re-raising a bet and someone coming back at you over the top all-in with a half decent pair. Then its become a tough decision with that Ace high of yours - lay it down. No by raising even in early position you will take control and narrow the field and against one, maybe two players you have a good chance to avoid AK becoming that Big Slick.

By Scrawnybob, from

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on June 5, 2006:

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