Sunday, February 06, 2005

Playing AK on the "Button" Multi-way

Today I am taking a break from the Heads Up Doctrine to share a way to play AK in late position along with an example hand I recently played. First let me say that while I love to look down at AK, the reality is when you face a raise or many raises, you are only going to hit an A or a K about 33 % of the time on the flop. Second, this logic does NOT apply to heads up.

If you face a bet on the flop after you did not hit an A or a K, you are can get yourself in big trouble if you call. Therefore I don’t usually like to re-raise pre-flop with AK unless 1) it looks like many players will call the raise and I want to narrow the field, 2) the raiser has been raising too much and could have anything 3) or I re-raise all in so I have at least a 50 % chance to win unless I’m up against KK or AA. Other than that, if the raiser has already appeared to narrow the field, I will simply cold call on the button with AK. Also, sometimes if there is big raise and a big re-raise, I might even fold AK pre-flop because I sense that someone has a big pair. Let me tell you it is not fun to be heavily committed in a pot with AK and be up against AA.

OK, one of the reasons not to re-raise pre-flop with AK is because you still only have ace high, the other reason is to set up hands like AQ or AJ. Not re-raising here disguises your hand and can lead to a huge Ship It! if an ace flops. Ok here is the hand.

Player A: ?? BB
Player B: AdQc Cutoff
Polynikes: Kh As Button
Player C: ?? SB
Pre-flop:
Player B raises to $14. Polynikes calls. Player C
folds. Player A calls.
Flop (board: 6c Ac 2s):
Player A checks. Player B checks. Polynikes bets
$20. Player A calls. Player B raises to $124.
Polynikes re-raises to $436. Player A folds.
Player B goes all-in for $167.60. Polynikes is returned
$268.40 (uncalled).
Turn (board: 6c Ac 2s Js):
(no action in this round)
River (board: 6c Ac 2s Js Ah):
(no action in this round)
Showdown:
Polynikes shows Kh As.
Polynikes has Kh As Ac Js Ah: three aces.
Player B shows Qc Ad.
Player B has Qc Ad Ac Js Ah: three aces, queen kicker.

$2 is raked from a pot of $399.20.
Polynikes wins $397.20 with three aces.

Facing the pre-flop pot raise on the button with AK, I felt good but not totally sure what I was up against. This player had been playing pretty tight and was undoubtedly holding a strong starting hand. Since I thought Player B’s raise would get the blinds out of the hand, I just called. The BB decided to call but wasn’t really a factor in the hand.

When the ace flopped I was hoping someone would bet out pot. This would tell me that I at least had the bettor beat. However, it was checked to me. At this point there was about $44 in the pot and I bet about half that. First I wanted hands like TT, JJ, QQ, & KK to think they might still have the best hand. Secondly, I wanted hands like AJ and AQ to put me to the test. I never considered checking, I hate slow playing one pair multi-way. When the BB called I figured him for a flush draw, weak ace, or low set. Then the original raiser re-raised pot. Does he make this raise with aces? I didn’t think so, so I re-raised all in hoping to see AQ or AJ. I also wanted to make sure the BB didn’t call with his flush draw. If the BB did spike a set on the flop, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. ;)

For me everything turned out rosy as the BB folded and the original raiser felt committed to call the rest. Let me say that AQ is a very tricky hand to play but I would almost always bet pot out instead of checking on the flop. Regardless, I’m glad this gentleman played the hand the way he did. ;)

This is one way to play AK in late position. I hope you found it useful. I will return to the Heads Up Doctrine later this week. Have a safe Super bowl Sunday.

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