This is a discussion on Where's the value? within the online poker forums, in the Learning Poker section; Im hoping someone can explain this to me because I don't understand it. Usually when people are discussing the AK you almost always hear people
Im hoping someone can explain this to me because I don't understand it. Usually when people are discussing the AK you almost always hear people say that's a strong hand and a lot of people suggest betting aggressively with it. Especially preflop where many times you'll see players 3bet or 4bet it and some will even push all in. It seems that many players play the AK is very similar to the way they play AA or KK. So AA heads up against every other hand has a significant advantage. You'll win no less than 75% of the hands. But if you were to put AK heads up against all possible hands. Their are 13 hands stronger than the AK. That includes all pairs from QQ all the way down to 22. Those pairs are all just slightly stronger then AK. While the other two pair the AA and KK are much stronger than the AK. You'll lose over 80% of the time against either pair. Of the hands left the AK will beat hands like AQ or AJ or KQ and hands similar hands. The other thing about AK is that on its own it has no strength. You're dependent on the board to connect because if it doesn't your holding nothing but Ace high. My math may be wrong on this but I believe the likely that it will connect to the board is roughly 50% of the time. That means have the time you play it you'll be left holding nothing. Now say it does hit the board and you end up with top pair. It'll be extremely hard to get any value from it as it's not very likely you opponent is going to be willing to put a lot of chips into the pot with any hand smaller than top pair. Maybe you get lucky and he hits top pair as well and then he'll be willing to risk more of his chips. Last point. Even if you do hit TP and say you're opponent is willing to bet. If they are then then how much can you trust your pair to hold up. We've all have learned the hard way at some point or another to not overvalue pairs. Win monster pots with monster hands and that AK to me is far from a monster hand. So I'll ask again. Where's the strength? How do you get value from it without taking significant risk by playing it aggressively preflop?
As usual, there is no universal answer. I flexibly try to play such hands. It all depends on the stage of the tournament (if not tournaments it changes everything at all) and the type of opponents. The more parameters are taken into account the better.
It's true. Preflop any pair has a small advantage over AK, but tell me how you feel when you have 22 on the button and the pre-flop raiser bets on a QT5. If he has AK, this is a fairly standard C-bet, are you going to float the flop with 22? You can't narrow his range purely to AK. He can have loads of hands that have you beat and you're sat there with 22 and a decision to make.
You're right that AK won't win very often if it doesn't improve, but the same can be said of most mid to low pocket pairs, except AK has 6 cards to hit and pairs only have 2. Then factor in the increased straight possibilities, if it's suited the nut flush possibilities and its chance of winning with a high card, I would prefer AK over any pair lower than TT.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill