When to Fold Ace King PreFlop
Should I Fold?
In one word, yes. A-K is perhaps the most overplayed hand in a poker – overplayed in the sense that it’s overvalued by many players, leading them to commit way too many of their chips in what begins as or evolves into a hopeless cause.
The problem with A-K is that it is a powerful hand, but it is also a drawing hand, meaning that it needs help to win, while two or more raises by other players before the flop indicates, more often than not, a decent pocket pair. Ace king becomes even more widely over played in low stakes poker, as many people are in there to gamble and that’s what the hand is.
A-K is never a favorite against any pocket pair before the flop, and the hand connects with the flop – pairing up with an A or a K on the board – only about one third of the time. Those are long odds to overcome when a couple of pre-flop raises appear from other seats, and your A-K, if you’ve evaluated it correctly, should shrink a bit in potential.
Rules about Ace King Preflop
It’s true that the rule about folding A-K to two or more pre-flop raises isn’t quite as hard and fast as it used to be. No less a poker legend than TJ Cloutier, remarking about the old Texas road games of his earlier days, wrote that the second preflop raise meant a monster and the third raise was almost certainly A-A. The last few years have seen a surge by a looser and more aggressive breed of players, many of whom prey on players that are too tight and predictable, so it’s good to study your opponents as well. There are players against whom calling with A-K pre-flop is not only a good play, but calling all the way down with the hand against a three-bullet bluff is profitable as well. Only with experience, however, will the new player recognize such a situation.
The problem with A-K is that it just looks so good. In Texas hold’em a player receives a pocket pair only once every 17 hands on average, and that scarce happening aside, A-K is the next best thing that can come along. Still, at a full, 10-player table, the odds are better than even that at least one player has a pocket pair in any given hand, and A-K is always an underdog to that pair, if the hand plays out to a showdown. It’s a sobering reminder that even the best-looking hands go down in flames more often than we’d care to think.
When to Fold AK Less
In cash games, the deeper your stack, the more you can afford to be wary with A-K. In tourneys, particular in sit-n-goes, A-K is a very foldable hand in the early levels. Taking into account your position at the table should also come into play on your betting amount. In both cases, your willingness to ride your A-K hard should bear relationship to the amount of your chips; if you have less than 15 or 20 big blinds or so in your stack, A-K may be the best hand you’ll see before the blinds eat you up. In such a case the best play is to ride that A-K and take your chances.