AK all-in, the bad good idea
Not I’m saying it is a bad hand, but putting all your chips (especially in the early stage of a tournament) is a frisky move.
Many unexperienced players will over evaluate this hand and, as shown above, you don’t need AA to beat it. On the other hand, AK is a great hand to play in the late stage of a tournament.
In any case it is important to keep control on the size of the pot so it will be more obvious to see if your opponents may have two pairs or a set at the flop and disguise your hand to them.
Also this wait & see strategy will help you to see where your hand stands.
Playing AK pre-flop early position
In early position a 4 to 5BB is a reasonable bet for thinning the field and, get committed and show you have a strong hand. If the pot has been raised, re-raise to the pot size.
Playing AK pre-flop mid-position
A 3 to 4BB is enough if you are opening. Again if someone raised before, re-raise to the pot size.
Playing AK pre-flop late-position
At this position, with only the blinds and the button behind you, a 3BB is enough. And as said before, if the pot has been raised, re-raise to the pot size.
If you are facing a Re-re-raise pre-flop
Someone Re-re-raising is probably holding a pocket pair unless he is a bully but it is wise to fold in this case. Don’t forget that in such situation you are probably dominated (70% of the time). Even assuming your opponent has pocket Q, do not forget you have only 1/3 chance to hit an Ace or King on the flop.
However if you feel you are playing against a fish you may call (against all odds) as it always depends on the situation.
Playing AK post-flop
If you hit the flop
If you hit the Ace or the King on the flop you have the TPTK (Top Pair Top Kicker) and therefore should bet aggressively to either make your opponents fold or pay the price to chase the flush or straight draw.
If they pay, they either are drawing or have hit something strong. In this situation knowing your foe is mandatory to estimate his hand. In this case, it is better to check and let your opponent lead the action (in order to gather some information).
If you don’t hit the flop
If you don’t hit the flop and only have undercards, it is common to do a Cbet about 2/3 of the pot max. If you have someone calling, be prepared to check/fold at the turn or the river as you only have 6 outs to get the top pair.
If you are on a flush draw
If you have AKs and flop comes with a nut flush draw the best is to come with a semi-bluff strategy in order to make your opponent fold. If he doesn’t you still have 25% chance to hit the flush by the river. If you are re-raised you should consider to fold as we are not talking about gambling here.
Turn & River
If you hit the flop and as long as no one re-raise you, you should bet consequently on the turn & river if there is no possible straight or flush draw. In the case someone re-raise you, you should reconsider your foe hand as he may have hit two pairs or a set.
I hope this will help you a bit to reconsider your AK hand when you are about to go all-in with it.
Sincerely yours, Hal
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