Key hands

How should you play AK in no limit holdem?

AK being a non made hand you should consider it as a drawing hand

How to play AK?





Although being one of the strongest hands in no limit holdem poker, AK can prove a risky hand to play. How you will play it will depends mostly on the size of your stack and the autonomy you have left. Just have a quick look at the following stats :

AKo going to war  in heads up against 1 opponent (both players see the river) :

  • AK vs AA : 7%
  • AK vs KK : 30%
  • AK vs pair : 45%
  • AK vs Ax : 72%
  • AK vs Rx : 75%
  • AK vs 78s : 60%
  • AK vs any two cards : 65%

Seing the odds, i guess you understand quite quickly that it would be fullish to go all in preflop with AK if your stack is deep (vs the blinds) at a beginning of a cash game or a MTT and if you still have time to manoeuvre at the table? Add to this all situations where you will not get paid by anyone…and try estimate now how much value you will get from this hand going all in?

AK needs a positive flop to improve. If you re-raise this hand preflop you should be quite satisfied when you win the pot preflop. It should be your target and if you do not succeed doing so you should try to find only 1 opponent. No specific re-raise amount to advise. You have to re-raise as intensively as needed based on the table profile to win it preflop or isolate 1 opponent. You must get all suited connectors out of your way. Maybe you will be called by dominated hands like AQ, AJ or KQ against which you will then be far ahead.

Hopefully this hand has a potential and you will also find an A or a K on the flop 32% of the time.

On a neutral flop you can apply here a standard continuation bet . If the conditions of a C-bet are not met the best thing you have to do is check. Because at this stage you are only beating a bluff if you did not connect on the flop and it will be difficult to stay in the hand if any kind of action shows up. If your C-bet gets called on the flop you will find yourself in a tricky spot on the turn (especially if a lot of action occured preflop leading you to think that you could be facing some top or middle pairs). You will be in a better place if you have the position on your opponent but should in any case try to control the pot size.

If your stack is decreasing (lets say during the end of the first phase of an online MTT) you can consider re-raising all-in with AK. However calling an all-in with this hand is another story since you have no more fold equity.

Below 10BB or with an M<7 it is a no brainer : re-raise all in or call any all-in with AK.