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Playing AK with skill

Pre-flop, AK sparkles. Players play it hard and fast, often too hard and fast. Remember that it is only a drawing hand, so no matter how strong you think you are, if you come up against a pair of 2s, you will almost always have to hit to win. Having said that, AK is no more than a coin flip away from beating any hand other than AA and KK, a massive incentive to play it hard.

As you will only hit a pair on the flop one in three times, it is important to know what to do when you inevitably miss flops with AK. If three under-cards hit the flop you can try a continuation bet to represent a big hand, or the check-fold if your opponent makes a bet. It is important not to get carried away with chasing an ace or a king on the turn and river.

If you can take the pot down with a raise or a well-placed re-raise pre-flop, do it. AK is easier to play pre-flop and doesn’t particularly benefit from slow-playing it. AK is also much easier to play in loose games where players will pay you off with weak aces etc. In tight games, tread with caution because tight players will more often than not be hiding rockets or kings in front of them.

Don’t give it too much special treatment and certainly don’t fall in love with it and keep paying someone off to see if an ace or king comes on the river. Play smart. Think about what sort of hand you are representing when you make every single bet.

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