Limping AK

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drawingneardead

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Since we have been discussing limping in on hands like AA & KK where the case is pretty much cut & dry, why not discuss limping with AK? This question is quite debatable.

For a minute let's assume that we are playing a full NL cash game. We will assume a low limit, say $200, and a typical mix of players. You are lucky enough to look down and see AK while on the button.

We know that in tourney play, the vast majority of good players raise coming in on this hand. I agree with this, but I do not see that theory as true when applied to cash games.

AK is a hit or miss hand. Overplaying AK when u miss the flop is a disaster in ring games, and it is typical to see as home game (tourney) players attempt to move into the casino. I feel that the overplaying on a missed flop is primarily caused by the player's preflop action. I.E. Raising with AK b4 the flop prompts you to make ill-advised Cbets.

If missing a flop with AK can be a disaster for some players in a ring game, hitting can be an even bigger one. One of the biggest problems with preflop raising this hand is that you fold out all the players that you have dominated. The weak aces & kings fold to your dominating hand but even worse the better players will let go of 2 facecard hands that u have crushed (and that they will pay u off with after hitting the flop).

So we expect to get paid on our AK but we fold out all the dominated hands b4 the flop.

Guess who calls our raise... Med. & small pairs! The only hands that play well against AK! (other than AA & KK of course) When a small pair makes a set and we hit a A or K, it takes all our poker skill to get away.

I am contending that limping is the better play most of the time!

Let's hear some opinions...
 
JacksRwild63

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AK is a drawing hand in my opinion . Too many times I see people push all in with it looking to hit lucky.
 
vanquish

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in 200max FR you would open raise AK because your hand beats your opponents calling ranges from the blinds, and using this fact, you would be value betting
 
ChuckTs

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Well although I don't agree with any of the points you lay out, I do admire actually posting a strategy thread with arguments for your strategy. Too many people come in and just post "NEVAR GO ALL IN WITH ACES PF CAUSE I SEE TOO MANY RIVERS THAT BEAT THEM" and tbh I was expecting that here.

Anyways, some points:

- I'm not sure where you play poker, but plenty of people call with weak holdings preflop. That's where we make our money in poker - from the bad players.
- Because of this, AK is well ahead of most people's calling ranges, and like vanquish said we're value betting them pf. With AK, we have equity, and as basic winning poker says, we should build the pot when we have that equity. That brings me to my next point:

AK is a drawing hand in my opinion .

I hate this 'saying'. It's a misnomer. Like zachvac would say, every hand is a 'drawing' hand. AK is drawing for an ace or a king against QQ for example, but AA is also drawing for non-6s against 66 for example. Don't look at poker in terms of old sayings and other nonsense - look at it in terms of equity. AK has an equity edge against most people's calling ranges, and that's why we play it. Just like AA (except AA has equity against any non-AA range).

I hope that one day we can look through cardschat and not even find one misnomer like that. They're very deceiving and can lead to misinformed ideas about how to play certain hands.
 
tnt72

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Me personally the only way i limp with this hand is in early position with the intention of reraiseing a late hand raise.Other than that I will raise with AK from any position:D
 
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drawingneardead

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I should have added to my title "in ring games".

Vanquish does 200MAX FR mean a freeroll tourney?

I play NL in brick & mortar (E. Chicago). 5/10 usually and @ $500 buy in. I haven't played a $100 MAX (1/2) game in almost a year. This keeps me able to just play 2 or sometimes 3 nights a week.

I agree with your arguements with regards to tourney play, but not with regards to cash games. I went from consistantly raising with AK to nearly always limping (of course I reraise should anyone bet). I have lost count of the times I have doubled through players with hands like KQ,KJ,KT,AT after limping AK. I left out AQ,AJ because those hands typically bet and then fold to my reraise.

Chuck your arguement concerning equity and correct longterm play is compelling, but I think you may be overlooking the heavy implied odds you get when limping.

Keep in mind that in higher limit cash games the ranges u mentioned (for players to call or bet preflop) are much reduced compared to tourney play. Solid players don't typically need to be 3bet to fold a hand like KJ or KT.

Back to implied odds... What I feel is the beauty of preflop deception with AK is the fact that even very solid cash game players feel safe when they hold a hand like AT and take a flop like A59. Safe enough for me to take a $500 pot off em with my AK. If i don't like the flop (its paired, suited, connected) I can throw away with nothing invested!

Limping AK has seemed to get otherwise solid (sometimes superior) players over grossly overplay top pair. That is something that happens often in 1/2 100 MAX, but much more rare in 5/10 500 MAX. I agree that limping is not necessary to get a descent pot off a customer. But limping AK seems to allow me to also break some of the other sharks at the table. Let me tell you, I went from staring at 7 fish, 3 sharks in 100MAX to more like 7sharks, 3fish at 500MAX.

This is a great discussion for me because I can learn from it! I hope to hear back from u on this chuck and I hope to get more opinions. I especially hope to hear from a couple of other cash game specialists.
 
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aliengenius

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1. We don't drive out dominated hands at all. People think "zomg two cards over ten-- I calls!" all the time. That's a huge part of AK's value.

2. Overplaying tptk and stacking off w it is a totally different issue than raising w AK.

3. I agree about hating the "it's a drawing hand" saying. This was first introduced by Lee Jones in his 'Winning Low LIMIT Hold'em' when refering to a situation where there were many limpers in front of you that were not going to fold for a single bet raise. Absolutely NO correspondence to NLHE.

4. from here, 'In Defense of AK':

I posted these thoughts in another thread, but I think they are worth repeating here:

The advantages of AK are mostly in it's preflop value:

1. Fold equity. This is the biggest advantage of AK. For me it is almost alway a REraising hand preflop. For you to take advantage of this, you MUST play it aggressively (your opponent must fold). Small pairs can't really call you for fear that you have a bigger pair when you play it aggressively. If you do get called, even by something like QQ, you are still only a slight dog.

2. Pre-flop dominating hand. This is mostly applicable against donks who will call you with Ax soooooded. Inversely, you are only really dominated vs AA or KK (and you have about 30% vs KK).

3. Post flop your top pair always has top kicker when you hit.

Obviously when your opponent goes all in he has neutralized AK's biggest advantage as he can no longer fold. Against two random cards that don't include either and ace or a king you are not that big of a favorite with five to come, as other posters pointed out. But you don't ever really want to be calling an all in with very many hands (AA and KK excepted)-- YOU want to be the one doing the raising or pushing.

Just to look at it another way, let's compare AK to a small pair, say 55.

AK is a dominating hand. IF your raise is called you are (most likely) either:

1. way ahead (vs. a weaker ace)
OR
2. in a 50/50ish race.

With 55 you are (most likely) either:

1. way behind (vs. a bigger pair)
OR
2. in a 50/50ish race.

See the difference?

Above is admittedly a tournament based viewpoint, however.

I think the OP's point goes to how AK plays in a cash game, where stacks are usually deeper than in tournaments: it is really a reverse implied odds hand, where you will win a small(ish) pot or lose a big one by flopping tptk. OP's idea of limping attempts to solve this problem by disguising the hand and possibly winning a big pot against a weaker ace.

I think, however, that giving hands like J6o (that would fold to a preflop raise) a free look at the flop is going to cost you more long term. Generally the more passive line isn't going to be the more profitable one in poker with a reverse implied odds hand.

The logic behind limping seems to stem from the (imo) mistaken thought noted in point one above: dominated hands DON'T fold, especially to a steal position raise: ATs isn't going to fold to your raise otb.

Also, I would like to point out that 50bb games (5/10NL w a $500 buy-in) play a lot closer to tournaments than deepstack cash games (100bb+) where implied odds are paramount.

edit: btw, "200 MAX FR" = $200 max buy-in Full Ring (blinds would be $1/$2 online).
 
ChuckTs

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AlienGenius may have touched on points I'm about to touch on, but to be honest I'm very lazy right now and don't want to read it, so excuse me if I'm repeating something.

Chuck your arguement concerning equity and correct longterm play is compelling, but I think you may be overlooking the heavy implied odds you get when limping.

True, we do gain implied odds, but the value we gain from them doesn't nullify the value we lose by not raising.

Solid players don't typically need to be 3bet to fold a hand like KJ or KT.

Pleas clarify, I'm not sure what you mean here.

Limping AK has seemed to get otherwise solid (sometimes superior) players over grossly overplay top pair.

How are you to know when they have a weak pair or something that crushes you?

There are arguments for both limping and raising, but the arguments for limping are very flawed.

For limping:

-We gain implied odds through deception
-You can get away cheap when you miss/get too much action on a scary board

Against limping:

-We give away reverse implied odds (again, how are we to know when an opponent is overplaying a weak TP as opposed to two pair or better?)
-We give worse hands a chance to outflop us
-We give our opponents a chance to bluff us out of the pot
-We lose our balance for when we want to steal (ie when we raise on the button with 57s, they'll know that on average we won't have a hand as strong as AK)
-We lose value from worse hands that might call a raise (ie AJ might not stack TP in a limped pot, but might in a raised pot since pots grow exponentially and he may get committed)
-We lose fold equity from better hands that might fold to a c-bet (ex we raise AK, he calls with 88, he check-folds a Q92 flop)

I'm just waking up so I may be missing something, but if you look at any 'good' cash game player, he will almost never open limp AK in late position. I'm sure there are spots for it, but as your primary play for AK it's just bad.
 
KenFischer

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I think that it's far more acceptable to flat call a raise with AK (especially in position and when it completes the betting for that round) than to ever open limp with it. First into the pot, I want to be raising, no matter what cards I am playing - open limping generally leads to trouble and subsequent regret/rebuys/tilt in my experience.
 
zachvac

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My thoughts on this:

I do not believe that limping with AK is a profitable long-run move. I simply think that the cons outweigh the pros and that even if you do end up positive overall, you could have ended up more positive had you raised preflop everytime.

BUT... poker, especially against better players, has to include mixing it up. First off, why I don't believe it's profitable to limp:

Most players will limp pocket pairs. So unless it's a broadway flop or something like that, playing AK will look a lot like a set. We'll use your hand, AT on an A95 rainbow board. Initially AT thinks he's probably good, but with such an uncoordinated board, if we play back he knows that all he beats with his AT is a flat out bluff. Our holding is much more likely to be 55, 99, or 59, all of which have him crushed. Additionally we could have A9 or A5. It would take an idiot to stack off with AT on that board in an unraised pot.

On top of that, we don't really want to be stacking off with only TPTK. Most opponents won't stack off with hands we beat, so we won't be getting much value from stacking off, but we pay off the 2-pair hands and sets that we allowed to limp in in the first place.


But as I mentioned earlier, I don't think that would be the benefit of limping, I think the benefit would come from your overall image. The problem is although there are many places that works with AA/KK, this image actually isn't very helpful with AK. What we want is to have them always questioning whether we have a monster. If we do this with AA/KK, we may be able to bluff off a 99/TT to a ragged flop, but when do we do this with AK? For AK to scare them as a part of our range, there has to be an A or K on the board. The thing is, with an A or a K on the board, and the opponent not having the top pair, they're probably laying it down regardless of image if we show resistance, even if they have us pegged as an extremely LAG player. We could have easily limped A3, K5, etc.

So I think I've established where it's not really a long-term overall good play and it doesn't help us with our image making opponents think we may have it in the future, so although I was thinking it could be a decent play before this, looking at it now I don't like the play at all. There's just no benefit I can see, even playing against very observant players in high stakes games. Usually the strategy in good games is to limp and raise a lot of hands to get your big hands paid off, not the other way around, limping good hands and using it to set up a bluff later. Sorry but I really don't like the AK limp. It has very limited use, will hurt more than it helps, and doesn't do much for you image. Did I miss something here?
 
F Paulsson

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Zach,

I think limping AK is profitable. I just think raising is more profitable.
 
Monoxide

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limp with ak why....

rarely, if ever, do I see a profitable moment to limp with AK. wheremiatwhereamiat!?1/ thats all that happens.

oh oh wait I can think of 1, ok early pos, you get AK suited, table has to be full of lagtards, you know a raise is going to happen like 80% of the time pf. Then you can drop a fatty reraise on the <insert lag>
 
zachvac

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Zach,

I think limping AK is profitable. I just think raising is more profitable.

Right, I tried to say that but basically that's a lot more clear. Limping AK is like someone handing you $100 and you giving $50 of it back. It's possible to play AK more profitably, so even though limping with AK may make profit over if you had not gotten it dealt to you, it's still not the best play, which is what you said.

But the point is sometimes something is profitable in the long run because of image. I think limping AA/KK against extremely observant players could be good strategy once in a while, while that's certainly not the most profitable play. Limping with AK though I don't believe even has that benefit.
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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Right, I tried to say that but basically that's a lot more clear. Limping AK is like someone handing you $100 and you giving $50 of it back. It's possible to play AK more profitably, so even though limping with AK may make profit over if you had not gotten it dealt to you, it's still not the best play, which is what you said.
I felt pretty confident that you meant that. :)

But nonetheless, a lot of (other) people lately seem to think that it's OK to do something just because they win money from it, and not really consider that we're shooting for the HIGHEST return. Something isn't good just because it's +EV.

Ah, well, beating the dead horse...
 
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greener_lax

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when i first started playing i would sometimes limp with AK, and it was not a profitable play, at least not as profitable as raising. the main reason is that i didn't know what the blinds had. they could have any two cards, so on a flop like K 7 2 i don't know if im good or not. they could have K7 or even 72. raising preflop gets these guys out of the hand, and you won't have to worry about these weak two pair kinds of hands.
 
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drawingneardead

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Some excellent arguements here no doubt. If my goal in the series of posts I have made here was to examine the differences of online & live games, then it has been an overwhelming success.

The response from credible sources in this post is overwhelming. For me to argue the main points would be to bring the credibility of (obviously well studied) players into question and inadvertantly damage my own.

I will however, contend 1st and foremost that we seem to be playing very different games. The type of deceptive (deviant) plays that I have mentioned are absolutely crucial in my game.

When I am in a tough game, grinding off of 3 seats is simply not an option if I want to make the profit I have gotten used to. Plays that take pots from other sharks are what keep me at the top of the food chain. This play is an example.

Still, on an incremental basis there is not much argueing with the points that you guys have laid out. I will submit that raising is the better play with ak.

IMO metaphorically speaking, to be successful in the games I play, you have to show up to a gun fight with M-16 not a shotgun.

Some points I don't fully agree with:

I feel that the implied odds associated with a play like this can make this play worthwhile. Maybe not all the time or even most of the time. But when u find a tough nut to crack, this play can be used like a hammer.

I feel that the highest +EV play is not always the best play in a given situation. This seems to be where I get the most resistance.

I see PO as a secondary filter for decision making. Where most players here seem to see PO as the be all end all of poker theory, I KNOW that it is one of multiple criteria for decision making in this game. If used exclusively, PO will hold you at the bottom of the food chain in my games.
 
KenFischer

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You make some good points also. Many people who try to trap for implied odds aren't able to get away from it when they miss (or are likely behind) and wind up getting themselves trapped instead.

If you can lay down TPTK when the action says you are beaten, then I agree that it's an interesting way to mix up your play.
 
aliengenius

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Well...

Plays that take pots from other sharks are what keep me at the top of the food chain.

Typically you don't want to be challenging strong players, you want to be challenging weak ones. Taking pots off sharks isn't where your profit should come from-- stacking poor players is. If your game is ALL sharks, find another game.

Some points I don't fully agree with:

I feel that the implied odds associated with a play like this can make this play worthwhile. Maybe not all the time or even most of the time. But when u find a tough nut to crack, this play can be used like a hammer.

It can make the play worthwhile, just not AS good as raising generally/long term/overall/in theory vs most opponets. Of course if the guy in the big blind WILL fold ATs to your button raise, then, yes, limping is the better play. But that's not the argument you made initially (even if you meant to).

I feel that the highest +EV play is not always the best play in a given situation. This seems to be where I get the most resistance.

That's because this is equivalent to saying 2+2 =3. The highest +EV play is BY DEFINITION the best play. That's what it means to have the highest +EV: you will make the most money with that play long term.

I see PO as a secondary filter for decision making. Where most players here seem to see PO as the be all end all of poker theory, I KNOW that it is one of multiple criteria for decision making in this game. If used exclusively, PO will hold you at the bottom of the food chain in my games.

Of course pot odds are only one of the things you take into account. The whole idea is to compare money odds (pot odds) with "event" odds, which includes your opponents range of hands as well as the odds of certain cards making hands. In an all in situation these decisions are easier, as you don't have to factor in implied odds, possible turn bets, etc.

Saying you wont call with a flush draw on a paired board isn't saying you disregard pot odds, it's saying you correctly discount your outs when making the decision vis a vis the money odds you are getting.
 
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drawingneardead

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"Of course pot odds are only one of the things you take into account."

This type of thought will bottleneck your play.

Could you please define "event odds"?



 
ChuckTs

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Event odds, ie the odds of an event happening (like drawing to a flush for example).

Not much to add to AG's post, I just want to emphasize how right he is.
 
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drawingneardead

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AG if you would have mentioned comparing PO to EO in that other thread, I could have saved alot of breath.

This is in contrast to "Of course pot odds are only one of the things you take into account."

Relative stack size should be considered as well.


Responses to this thread have convinced me that the play I mentioned should be used sparingly. Well done.

Regarding your last post:

As I have moved to higher limits, the number of fish in my games have been reduced. I agree 100% that the bad players are my customers, but one shark eats another when he makes a mistake (such as overplaying his hand). Not only do I look for this to happen, I try to give them that little push they need to make it happen.

So I do not challenge strong players, I exploit thier mistakes. Letting them limp with KQ and taking thier stack with AK is one example.
 
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escalady74

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AK is definitely a drawing hand and I agree with your premise. It has to be the most over-played, especially for people that cannot separate their tournament strategy from the ring game. I don't know if you agree, but I especially notice the mistakes online versus how people play live. I think people would never play live the way they play online, because they would be laughed off the table with the horrible calls with no pot odds.

Erin
 
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drawingneardead

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AK is definitely a drawing hand and I agree with your premise. It has to be the most over-played, especially for people that cannot separate their tournament strategy from the ring game. I don't know if you agree, but I especially notice the mistakes online versus how people play live. I think people would never play live the way they play online, because they would be laughed off the table with the horrible calls with no pot odds.

Erin


I agree. I am likely the only person who will agree with you on this forum though. online poker has destroyed thier perception. They can help you with your math (sort of), but that is about it.

gl
 
ChuckTs

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Yeah, you two are right and us 3084892 are wrong.

The mere fact that you started a sentence with "AK is definitely a drawing hand" is hilarious and made me ignore the rest of your post. With all due respect, your post might as well have been "what I'm saying is wrong, please ignore me".

Maybe because these ridiculous posts are tilting me at the moment, but I'm done with taking my personal time to help others explain what winning poker is. You can go on with your "knowing" that maths is stupid, insisting that psychology is the be-all and end-all of everything poker, I'll ignore you and do my thing. gl.
 
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