Big Slick: A slippery hand

By Rafe Furst

Rafe Furst I often tell people that short term results should not influence the way they play, but I encourage them to find apologies necessary to analyze their game.

Recently, a player on Full Tilt Poker lamented to be released whenever his last tournament with A - K and he suspected something wrong. A few questions allowed me to learn that he often found himself all-in against pocket pairs. This is a classic.

Many people fall in love with A - K pre-flop to No - Limit Hold ' em because they know that they can rarely be worse than 50 - 50 chance of winning the hand if they are heads up. It is true, but the reverse is also true: rarely you will be better at 50% chance of winning the hand at the showdown.

Why A - K is considered to be a strong starting hand? Because the fold equity. In the right conditions, you can earn approximately 50% and more pots by your fold equity. Here's the scenario: the blinds are $200-$400 and Jen Harman (which has $12,000 before it) raise $1,200 in the middle with a pair of ten position. You reraisez in all $6,000 with A - K of the button. It is difficult for Jen caller here because in addition to you suspect to have something like A - K, she knows that you can also have A - A, K - K, Q - Q or J - J.

What is she wishes play a quarter of his stack to be at best favorite 57%? You, by your side, you know that unless you deal with AA or KK, you'll be at least 43% of the odds of winning the hand if it call. Unless Jen has a really important information about you, it will be forced down her pair of ten which would be in advance against AK. This kind of scenario happens frequently in No-Limit Hold ' em.

Using your fold equity in this way, you make a hand that would be less than 50-50 against a pair of ten, a hand that will win about 75% of the pots against this same pair of tens.

The mistake that several inexperienced players make is do not give chance to their opponent to lie. They see A - K and cannot wait to put all of their chips in play to run in the showdown against their opponent. But as we have seen with our example, the strength of A - K comes from its fold equity (money that you win when your opponent goes down).

Here are some keys to play A - K:
  1. You can go all-in with A - K, but not caller not with this hand.
  2. Restart enough when you have A - K to induce your opponents to fold.
  3. Raisez not too. In this case, the only hand that caller will be one that will largely dominate you (AA or KK).

In order to run these games properly, it is important to keep in mind the size of the blinds and the size of the stacks. A K loses its value when your opponents are short stacked or committed to the pot in other words when they do not fold their hand or when the blinds are really small compared to the size of the stacks. These principles apply as much ring game and tournament. Back to my friend who came out of several tournaments with A - K...

If we analyse more closely why it came out of several tournaments with A - K, one realizes that he broke each of the three rules:

  1. It callait reviving all-in his opponent when he held his pocket pair.
  2. He went all-in after his opponent is committed to the pot
  3. After having been out of several tournaments with A - K, his revivals became too large in order to 'protect' his hand. Obviously, the only hands that could the caller were hands that beat it.

Here is a good example of situation in the short term which, when analysed, allows winners changes long-term.