Should You Limp with AK? Here’s What the Pros Do

Should You Limp with AK?


This
article
was
written
by
blackrain79.com
contributor
Fran
Ferlan.

Ace
King
is
the
strongest
drawing
hand
in
no-limit
Texas
Holdem,
and
it
should
be
one
of
your
biggest
money-making
hands
long
term,
trailing
behind
only
premium
pocket
pairs,
from
pocket
Tens
and
upwards.
Players
tend
to
either
hate
or
love
the
Big
Slick
(Ace
King).
While
certainly
one
of
the
best
starting
hands,
players
often
overplay
it
because
they
overvalue
the
hand
preflop,
and
some
don’t
play
it
fast
enough,
leading
to
a
lot
of
problems
postflop.
This
article
will
break
down
how
Ace
King
performs,
and
give
you
some
guidelines
as
to
how
to
play
it
most
effectively.

Let’s
start
with
answering
the
most
important
question:

Is
there
a
situation
where
limping
with
Ace
King
is
the
optimal
play?


1.
Why
You
Should
Play
Ace
King
Fast
Preflop

As
a
general
rule,
you
shouldn’t
limp
with
Ace
King
preflop
(or
other
hands
for
that
matter).
Open
limping
(being
the
first
to
open
the
pot
with
a
call
instead
of
a
raise)
is
a
suboptimal
strategy
for
a
number
of
reasons.
First
of
all,
you
can’t
win
the
pot
uncontested
if
you
don’t
raise
preflop.
This
means
that
you
rely
only
on
your
hand
strength
to
win
the
pot.
And
since
making
a
strong
hand
in
no-limit
Texas
hold’em
is
more
an
exception
than
the
rule,
it’s
simply
better
to
give
yourself
more
options
to
win
the
pot,
that
is
winning
it
without
showdown.
This
is
something
that
BlackRain79
discusses
in
much
more
detail
in

Modern
Small
Stakes
for
example.

Secondly,
if
you
open-limp,
your
opponents
can
raise
behind
you,
often
leaving
you
playing
out
of
position
without
a
range
advantage.
A
player
has
range
advantage
when
he
theoretically
has
more
strong
holdings
in
their
range
than
their
opponent.
The
preflop
aggressor
has
the
range
advantage
over
the
callers,
because
he
can
potentially
have
strong
holdings
like
pocket
Aces,
pocket
Kings
or
Ace
King,
while
his
opponents
can’t,
because
they
would
have
reraised
themselves
had
they
had
them.
This
means
that
you
have
the
initiative
postflop,
and
you
have
the
opportunity
to
c-bet
and
dictate
the
tempo
of
the
hand.
BlackRain79
discusses
this
concept
further
in
this
video
on
how
to
play
Ace
King
optimally
at
the
micro
stakes:
And
lastly,
if
you
open-limp
preflop,
you’re
inviting
players
after
you
to
do
the
same,
which
can
lead
to
playing
in
a
multiway
pot.
It’s
harder
to
win
a
multiway
pot
than
the
heads-up
pot,
because
you
have
more
opponents
to
beat,
and
the
more
opponents,
the
bigger
the
chance
some
of
them
will
connect
with
the
flop
in
some
way,
thus
reducing
your
equity.
So
open-limping
is
hardly
ever
an
optimal
play.
Limping
behind
(calling
after
one
or
more
players
limped
in)
can
be
a
correct
play
in
some
cases
(like
playing
speculative
hands
such
as
small
pocket
pairs
or
suited
connectors,
for
example)
but
a
strong
hand
like
Ace
King
should
almost
always
be
played
aggressively,
especially
in
low
stakes
games.
If
you
are
the
first
to
open
the
pot,
you
should
therefore
do
it
with
a
raise.
If
one
or
more
players
limped
before
you,
you
should
raise
to
isolate
them,
because
they
are
highly
likely
to
be
recreational
players.
By
isolating
limpers,
you
are
putting
yourself
in
the
best
money-making
position
postflop,
and
you
can
get
action
by
a
lot
of
hands
you
dominate
(a
bunch
of
Ax
and
Kx
hands,
for
example).
If
somebody
raised
before
you,
you
should
3-bet
them
to
three
times
the
open-raising
size
if
you
are
in
position,
and
4
times
the
size
if
you
are
out
of
position.
You
can
adjust
your
3-bet
size
based
on
your
opponents.
If
you’re
up
against
fishy
opponents
you
can
go
for
a
bigger
3-bet
size.
Same
goes
for
open-raising,
of
course.
Is
there
a
situation
where
limping
with
AK
can
be
a
correct
play,
though?
Well,
unless
you’re
Johnny
Chan
playing
high
stakes
against
world
class
professionals,
the
answer
is
no.
If
you’re
playing
mid
or
high
stakes,
there
can
theoretically
be
a
situation
where
you
might
want
to
go
for
a
deceptive
line
like
limping
or
flatting
with
AK.
For
example,
you
limp
behind
a
player
expecting
to
get
raised
by
a
hyper
aggressive
opponent
behind
you,
and
trying
to
induce
them
to
barrel
into
you
postflop.
If
this
theoretical
aggressive
opponent
puts
you
on
a
range,
he
won’t
expect
you
to
have
AK
in
your
range,
so
you
can
get
action
by
hands
you
dominate,
like
AQ,
AJ,
KQ
and
the
like.
But
again,
going
for
deceptive
lines
like
this
isn’t
advised
in
most
situations.
It
can
only
theoretically
be
acceptable
if
you
are
playing
against
totally
balanced
thinking
regulars,
and
playing
ABC
poker
can
only
get
you
so
far.
But
as
this
is
hardly
ever
the
case
in
low
stakes
games,
playing
your
strong
hands
straightforwardly
is
the
correct
way
to
go.
If
you
try
to
go
for
deceptive
lines,
you
should
be
aware
that
it
can
backfire
for
the
reasons
mentioned
above,
that
is
seeing
the
postflop
without
the
initiative
and
range
advantage
and
potentially
playing
in
a
multiway
pot.


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2.
How
to
Play
Ace
King
When
Facing
Aggression
Preflop

As
mentioned
before,
you
should
try
to
position
yourself
as
the
preflop
aggressor
with
AK
a
large
majority
of
the
time,
especially
if
you
play
low
stakes
games.
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But
back
to
being
the
preflop
aggressor
with
Ace
King,
this
means
we
should
be
open
raising
or
3-betting.
So
let’s
take
a
look
at
what
happens
when
we
encounter
aggression
against
our
raises.
Should
we
just
flat
call
or
shove
all
in
preflop
and
hold
our
breath?
Let’s
take
a
look
at
the
first
situation,
when
we
encounter
a
3-bet.
We
have
three
options
here:
fold,
call
or
4-bet.
Folding
is
out
of
the
question,
of
course.
Should
we
call
or
4-bet
depends
on
a
lot
of
factors:
are
we
playing
in
position
or
out
of
position,
what
type
of
opponent
is
3-betting,
what
are
the
stack
sizes,
just
to
name
a
few.
There
is
no
one-size
fits
all
answer,
so
here
are
a
few
guidelines.
If
you
are
playing
out
of
position,
you
should
be
more
inclined
to
4-bet
rather
than
call.
This
is
because
it’s
very
hard
to
play
a
hand
out
of
position
without
the
initiative
and
range
advantage.
If
you
4-bet,
you’re
putting
tremendous
pressure
on
your
opponent,
and
are
going
to
the
flop
with
said
initiative
if
they
call,
so
the
hand
basically
plays
itself.
From
there
you
can
just
shove
on
the
flop,
as
there
won’t
be
much
money
left
behind
at
that
point.
Also,
Ace
King
blocks
pocket
Aces
or
pocket
Kings,
meaning
it’s
harder
for
your
opponent
to
hold
those
hands.
If
you
hold
Ace
King,
your
opponent
can
only
have
3
combos
of
Aces
and
3
combos
of
Kings.
If
you
don’t
hold
any
blockers,
with
pocket
Jacks,
for
example,
there
are
a
total
of
12
possible
combos
of
Pocket
Aces
and
Kings
your
opponent
can
theoretically
have.
If
you
are
in
position,
you
can
consider
flat
calling,
as
stacks
will
be
deeper,
so
there’s
more
maneuverability
postflop.
Remember,
AK
is
still
only
a
drawing
hand,
and
if
you
decide
to
4-bet,
you
might
only
get
action
from
Aces,
Kings
and
Queens.
Against
that
particular
range,
AK
has
only
about
32%
equity.
That’s
why
it’s
important
to
know
what
kind
of
opponent
you
are
facing
in
order
to
assess
how
aggressively
you
should
play
preflop.
If
you
are
playing
against
tight
regulars,
you
should
be
careful
not
to
overplay
your
Ace
King,
because
as
we
already
mentioned,
it’s
still
only
a
drawing
hand,
and
it’s
actually
an
underdog
against
premium
pocket
pairs
(and
all
other
pocket
pairs,
for
that
matter).
Poker
pros
therefore
often
opt
to
just
flat
call
3-bets
when
holding
AK
against
very
tight
3-betting
ranges,
and
see
the
flop
without
committing
a
huge
chunk
of
their
stack
preflop.
This
is
because
they
want
more
maneuverability
postflop
with
deeper
stacks,
and
the
opportunity
to
outplay
their
opponents,
or
simply
give
up
cheaply
when
the
board
texture
doesn’t
favour
them.
For
much
more
on
how
poker
pros
approach
all
aspects
of
the
game,
check
out
the
complete
guide
on

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3.
How
to
Play
Ace
King
Postflop

Now
let’s
take
a
look
how
Ace
King
performs
postflop
and
try
to
draw
conclusions
on
how
to
play
it
most
effectively.
We
already
mentioned
that
Ace
King
is
the
strongest
drawing
hand.
This
means
that
if
it
hits
the
flop,
you’re
always
going
to
have
a
top
pair,
top
kicker
hand
(TPTK).
If
the
board
is
dry,
you
can
be
confident
you
hold
the
best
hand
a
large
chunk
of
the
time.
What’s
great
about
TPTK
is
that
you
don’t
have
to
worry
about
kicker
problems,
and
your
opponents
can
and
will
continue
with
dominated
hands
like
top
pair,
weak
kicker.
This
means
you
can
confidently
bet
for
value
and
get
action
from
second
best
hands.
Also,
you
don’t
have
to
worry
about
overcards
on
the
future
streets.
And
thirdly,
if
you
fire
off
a
c-bet
on
a
dry
board,
like
A8♠3♣,
it
will
look
like
a
standard
c-bet,
and
your
opponents
might
assume
that
you
would
play
that
way
with
close
to
a
100%
of
your
range.
This
means
that
they
can’t
automatically
put
you
on
your
exact
hand.
Finally,
if
you
flop
a
straight
or
a
flush
draw,
you
will
always
be
drawing
to
the
strongest
possible
straight
or
flush,
which
means
you
don’t
have
to
worry
about
losing
your
whole
stack
with
a
monster
hand
that
turns
out
to
be
only
the
second
best.
If
you
flop
such
a
strong
draw,
you
should
also
play
it
very
fast.
As
a
general
rule,
the
stronger
your
draw,
the
faster
you
should
play
it.
That
way
you
can
win
the
pot
without
even
needing
to
improve,
and
even
if
you
do
get
called,
you
can
still
win
a
huge
pot
by
completing
the
draw.
However,
most
hands
miss
most
flops,
and
Ace
King
is
no
exception.
Let’s
see
how
Ace
King
hits
the
flop.
You
should
at
least
be
aware
of
these
percentages
in
order
to
make
better
in-game
decisions.
It’s
worth
mentioning
that
AK
offsuit
and
AK
suited
hit
the
flop
quite
similarly.
The
only
difference
being
that
AK
suited
can
also
flop
a
flush
draw.
So
there
really
isn’t
much
difference
as
to
how
they
should
be
played
preflop.
Like
most
hands,
Ace
King
misses
the
flop
two
out
of
three
times,
or
67%.
But
not
all
is
lost
if
you
miss
the
flop
completely.
You
still
have
an
Ace-high
hand,
and
your
opponent
will
also
miss
the
flop
two
out
of
three
times.
This
means
you
will
still
technically
have
the
strongest
hand.
And
if
you
followed
the
previous
advice
and
didn’t
limp
with
the
Big
Slick,
but
raised
preflop
instead,
you
have
the
opportunity
to
c-bet
the
flop
and
take
the
pot
down.
Even
if
you
get
called,
you
will
still
have
two
overcards
to
improve
on
future
streets.
In
that
case,
you
have
six
outs
left
(3
Aces
and
3
Kings),
so
your
chance
of
improving
from
flop
to
turn
and
river
are
12%
and
24%,
respectively.
As
far
as
the
drawing
hands
go,
Ace
King
will
flop
an
inside
straight
draw
11%
of
the
time.
AK
suited
will
flop
a
flush
draw
additional
11%
of
the
time.
Both
AKo
and
AKs
will
flop
a
top
pair
29%
of
the
time,
and
will
absolutely
smash
the
flop
(meaning
two
pair
hand
or
better)
about
4%
and
4.6%
of
the
time,
respectively.
So
we
see
that
there
is
no
significant
difference
between
AKo
and
AKs,
except
for
the
additional
11%
possibility
of
flopping
a
straight
draw,
and
the
negligible
0.6%
more
of
smashing
the
flop.
If
you
want
to
learn
much
more
on
how
to
do
equity
analysis
like
this
check
out
the
complete
BlackRain79
guide
to
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Summary

Ace
King
is
the
strongest
drawing
hand
in
no-limit
Texas
hold’em,
and
should
be
one
of
your
most
significant
long-term
winning
hands.
It
should
therefore
be
played
fast
both
preflop
and
postflop
in
most
situations.
Limping
with
Ace
King
is
ill-advised,
as
by
doing
so
you
are
not
giving
yourself
the
opportunity
to
win
the
pot
preflop
uncontested,
you
increase
your
chances
of
playing
in
a
multiway
pot,
thus
reducing
your
equity,
and
you
won’t
see
the
flop
with
the
initiative
and
the
range
advantage.
You
should
therefore
go
into
the
pot
with
an
open-raise
or
a
3-bet.
If
you
encounter
aggression
against
your
raise,
it’s
important
to
recognize
what
kind
of
opponent
you
are
up
against
so
you
don’t
overplay
your
hand
and
end
up
walking
back
to
Houston,
as
the
old
saying
goes.
Poker
pros
will
therefore
sometimes
opt
to
flat
call
Ace
King
against
3-bets
instead
of
going
crazy
with
it
preflop,
as
it’s
still
just
a
drawing
hand,
and
it
will
in
fact
miss
the
flop
completely
two
out
of
three
times.
If
you
are
the
preflop
aggressor,
however,
even
if
you
do
end
up
missing
the
flop,
you
can
still
try
to
take
the
pot
down
with
a
c-bet,
as
you
still
have
two
overcards.
This
means
you
will
improve
to
a
TPTK
hand
12
or
24
percent
of
the
time
either
on
turn
or
river,
respectively.
If
you
flop
a
straight
or
a
flush
draw,
you
should
also
play
it
fast,
as
it
is
a
great
spot
for
a
semi-bluff.
You
can
either
win
the
pot
by
making
your
opponents
fold,
or
improve
on
future
streets
to
a
monster
hand
and
win
a
huge
pot.
In
conclusion,
Ace
King
is
a
great
hand
to
hold,
but
it’s
important
not
get
carried
away
with
it
just
because
it
looks
pretty.
There’s
a
life
lesson
somewhere
in
there
too.
Lastly,
if
you
want
to
know
the
complete
strategy
to
crush
small
stakes
poker
games,
make
sure
you
grab
a
copy
of
the

free
BlackRain79
poker
cheat
sheet.

Should You Limp with AK?

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