Playing Ace-King in Poker
Ace-King is one of the most difficult hands for new players to play, as they have a tendency to get enamored with the high cards offered by Ace-King but ignore how low the odds are to win. Ace-King is a good starting hand, but it doesn’t have a significant advantage on hands other than lower aces and lower kings.
Preflop play is very important when playing Ace-King, perhaps more so than with other hands. If you are the first player in the pot, you should always raise with Ace-King. This will give you a good idea of where your hand sits. Optimally everyone will fold and you will win the hand here.
If another player raises you will have some decisions to make. This is where your position becomes important. If you are playing in early position you should strongly consider folding. You will not have the advantage of acting last after the flop and your hand is not likely to be significantly more powerful than your opponent’s unless your opponent is typically loose and would reraise with A-Q or some similar hand. If you act after your opponent you can call and see how they react to the flop. However, if one of your opponents raises and there are numerous callers and possibly even more raisers, get out of the hand immediately. There is absolutely no justification for playing Ace-King with so many people in the pot.
After the flop you must play your opponent first and your cards second. If you act first and the flop is unremarkable you should bet to get a gauge on your opponent. Hopefully he will fold, but if he calls you should play cautiously and check the rest of the hand unless you hit an Ace or a King. In that case you must play your opponent and try to put him on a hand. If you act last and your opponent checks to you, then you should bet out. Chances are he will fold, but if he calls or raises you, be prepared to fold. If you hit an Ace or King on the flop you should bet out, but be very mindful of the board and your opponent’s actions, in case he’s on a draw or flopped two pair or a set.
I’ve outline a lot of different situations here, and they can get confusing at times. However, they all boil down to one thing principle: Play Ace-King cautiously, but do not hesitate to try and force your opponents to fold when you get the chance. Ace-King is not a stellar starting hand as it needs to improve, and it does not have a significant advantage over most hands. Play cautiously.