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How should you play Ace-King in poker? A tricky spot analysed

How should you play Ace-King in poker? A tricky spot analysed

In the Discord Review, we take a look at hand histories posted in our Discord channel by BBZ Poker members.

Picking up ace-king deep in a huge event is enough to get anyone’s heart rate racing. You might not have the comfort pocket aces would provide, but you know you’ve got a monster. Now you have to see if you can get the most from it.

That was the position BBZ Poker Discord member ‘Joshinaround’ found himself in. He had around 63 big blinds with just 300 players remaining of the 48,812 who started the $22 MicroMillions Main Event. There was a massive $100,000 awaiting the winner.

How should you play ace-king? Find out below.

A tricky ace-king spot

He picked up AK in the cutoff and when it folded to him he opened to 73,500 (with blinds at 17,500/35,000). The villain flatted from the small blind off a 37-big-blind stack, and the two went heads-up to a flop of 636.

“I debated betting the flop for protection but ended up checking back as his range should be a bit stronger from the small blind,” says ‘Joshinaround’. “His range includes pocket pairs that don’t want to jam pre-flop since we’re more than 35 big blinds effective. I don’t want to get raised as I can feel comfortable on a lot of turns in position.

“Plus, if he happens to have a hand like KQ and the turn is a king, I can win a massive pot.”

The turn was the A, giving ‘Joshinaround’ top pair top kicker to go with the sixes on board. It checked to him again.

“On the turn, I went big for pure value. I was ready to play for stacks.”

He bet 159,600 into a pot of 210,000. The Villain called.

The river was the 9 and it checked to ‘Joshinaround’ again. He bet 465,000 into 529,200.

“I was polarizing my range to only strong hands or a bluff, hoping to get called by a worse ace,” he says. “Then he rips it in my face.”

Yep, the Villain jammed over the top for 1,065,573 total. ‘Joshinaround’ folded.

“I don’t think people ever do this as a bluff,” says ‘Joshinaround’. “It’s screaming value, especially so deep in the tournament. I think he only does this with a flopped full house, quad sixes, A6-suited, A9, and 6X.

“I’m curious to know if I’m supposed to call it off as I’m near the top of my range and I’m getting such an insane price. Or should I throw this type of thinking out the window at these stakes and make a pure exploit fold as I did here?”

Analysis from Derbegott

BBZ Stream Team member Andreas “derbegott” Ponath stepped into the Discord to provide his analysis.

“On the flop I’d mostly bet ace-king small for both value and protection, as most his range is broadways or worse AX,” says derbegott.

Here’s a look at what a solver does on the flop:

“But I think your biggest mistake is your turn sizing,” says derbegott. “Going that big on the turn doesn’t make too much sense with your range. You probably wouldn’t play any bluffs like that. If you check the flop and fire turn, your hand could be face up.”

Here’s a look at what a solver does in joshinaround’s position on the turn:

You’ll notice that after checking back the flop, the solver all but removes AK-suited and offsuit from the range, aside from a small percentage of checking.

Here’s a look at the Villain’s out-of-position (OOP) range when facing a small bet on the turn:

“The Villain is supposed to call with some king-highs now,” says derbegott. “So our AX which doesn’t block his king-high calls will have higher EV.”

Overall though, derbegott liked the fold on the river and agreed that it was very unlikely the Villain could find enough bluffs.

Here’s a look at what a solver does out-of-position on the river:

“I think you played it fine and made a good lay down. Arguably, you find a higher EV line here against a weaker player. But mostly, I think you’re just supposed to triple-barrel with ace-king offsuit. In this case, you probably got lucky that you didn’t lose it all, but overall you really just want to bet three times and get max-value from worse hands.”

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