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When Not to Go All In With AK

Poker commentator and sports writer Norman Chad once mentioned that every professional poker player should have written on his tombstone, "He Started With Ace King." He was only partly kidding. Ace King, or Big Slick as it is commonly called, is one of the best starting hands in Texas Hold'em, and if they are suited even better. Many hands have been won with these two cards, but there is something about them that causes even the most patient players to throw caution to the wind. It is not for no reason that Big Slick is also jokingly called Anna Kournikova , because it "Looks great, but hardly ever wins."

There is another adage in Texas Hold'em that says "sometimes all you can do is get all your money in with the best hand." This often refers to short stacked players who need to make a move before getting blinded off, but note that the adage says "sometimes." There are times when Big Slick can be the death of you.

What happens when you are short stacked, you have AK suited, and the flop comes T 2 4 rainbow? You fold, that's what happens, if your opponent bets at the pot. As pretty as AK is, a pair of Tens beats it just fine.

The time not to go in with AK is preflop, if you are trying to last longer or make it in the money. If you want to gamble, well, AK is one of the best hands to gamble with, but there are no assurances. The lowliest wired pair could hold out against you pretty easily, and even an ambitious QJ could catch one card to knock you out. If you simply call or check your AK you get to see the flop, and if you make a pair of better, that is the time to strike.

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