I’m not sure any starting hand in Hold’em inspires more debate than ace-king. The debate usually centers around how the hand should be played pre-flop in tournaments; one player might advocate a flat-call in a situation that another player would five-bet in. How aggressive you should play ace-king will depend on stack sizes, position, your opponent, and your image.

Everyone knows to open ace-king regardless of your stack size or position. The difficult situations are knowing when to get aggressive with ace-king pre-flop, and when to just call a raise (or three-bet) made in front of you. Although position plays a large role, it’s easiest to discuss these scenarios by effective stack sizes.

When you’re in a situation with 20 effective big-blinds or less, ace-king is (essentially) always a hand to get all-in with pre-flop; regardless of position. I guess maybe if the tightest player I’d ever seen open raised under-the-gun with a twenty blind stack and I was next to act with ace-king then I might flat call…but baring something that extreme, you can be comfortable getting all-in with ace-king at this stack size.

When you’re working with effective stack sizes between 25 and 45 big-blinds, you’ll often be re-raising ace-king pre-flop with the intention of getting all-in, but there’s more room for discretion. In some cases, you may be facing an opponent where you think ace-king plays better as a flat call—such as an opponent that’s tight pre-flop and weak post-flop who raises in early position. There can also be cases where ace-king presents an opportunity to trap players behind you: if you’re sitting on 40 blinds and facing an early position raise with ace-king, it may be better to call if there are shorter stacks behind that could go all-in (sometimes you should call if the open raiser goes all-in, and sometimes you should fold…knowing when will be player dependent).

When you’re playing ace-king with effective stack sizes between 50 and 80 blinds, you’ll still be re-raising in most situations, but how aggressive you can be becomes very position and player dependent. For example, if you raise a 60 blind stack on the button and a capable player in the small blind three-bets you, it’s likely correct to four-bet with the intention of getting all-in. But if you raise a 60 blind stack in early position and a capable player behind you three-bets, it’s likely best to just call the raise and play out the hand post-flop.

Ace-king is still a re-raising hand early in the tournament—when average stacks are 100 blinds are more—but its unlikely a good idea to get all-in pre-flop. Of course, there might be some wild players who vastly overvalue inferior hands, but in most cases, you should re-raise ace-king against an open with the intention of just calling if your opponent four-bets (and maybe folding if they’re tight and make a huge four bet).

Check out ace-king in action

Keep up to date with the all things partypoker!

Get all the latest partypoker updates from your favourite social media outlets. You can Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


Comments are closed.