How to Play Ace King - This Might Shock You

How to Play Ace King
People ask me all the time how to play Ace King. And I can understand why, it is a tricky hand to play. Two out of three times you see a flop you won't even hit a pair!

But Ace King is also one of the absolute strongest hands in poker and it will be one of your biggest long term winners. So it is very important that you understand how to play your Ace King optimally in all situations.

In this article I am going to break it all down for you step by step. Here is your complete guide on how to play Ace King more profitably.


1. Always Raise or Re-Raise With Ace King Preflop


First things first, you need to always be raising or re-raising preflop with your Ace King.

And this is because like I said, Ace King is one of the most powerful hands in the game. So you always want to be getting more money in the pot while you likely hold a strong advantage.

The other reason why raising or re-raising preflop with Ace King is important is because it is going to give you what we call the "betting lead" going into the flop.

And the reason why this is so important is because it is going to allow you to win so many more pots where you don't have much of anything by simply continuing on with the aggression.




In fact as I mentioned in my first book, it is simply a proven fact that entering the pot with the betting lead is the more profitable play.

All you have to do is load up your PokerTracker database, run a few simple filters and check the data for yourself.

Now my general rule of thumb with Ace King is to raise it 3x the big blind if I am the first person to enter the pot preflop. This is a pretty standard raise size in nearly all No Limit Hold'em cash games or tourneys.


For Example:

You have AK in a $1/$2 cash game and it is folded to you on the button.

You should raise it to $6.


Now what about if there are limpers before you get a chance to act? This happens a lot in low stakes games in particular.


My general rule of thumb here is this:
  • Raise it 3x plus one additional big blind per limper


For Example:

You have AK in a $1/$2 cash game on the button and there are two limpers before you.

You should raise it to $10.


Now what about if somebody has already raised it before you get a chance to act though? Again, here are my general rules of thumb:
  • 3x the original raise if I am in position versus the preflop raiser
  • 4x the original raise if I am out of position versus the preflop raiser

In Position Example:

You have AK in a $1/$2 cash game on the button and somebody in middle position has already raised it to $6.

You should re-raise (3Bet) to $18.


Out of Position Example:

You have AK in a $1/$2 cash game in the big blind and somebody in middle position has already raised it to $6.

You should re-raise (3Bet) to $24.


Now there is one very important caveat that I need to mention here regarding your preflop strategy with Ace King. And this is the situation where an extremely tight player has already raised it from early position.

In general in poker when somebody raises from early position (the seats directly to the left of the big blind), they will be on their tightest range. And in this case we are talking about a player who already plays really tight overall!


So his range in this situation might be as narrow as:
  • AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, AK

And as you can see below we are actually a statistical underdog versus this range with Ace King preflop.

How to Play Ace King

So the last thing I want to do here is get into a raise and re-raise war with this tight player. Instead I will just flat call (especially when I am in position) and simply look to outplay him after the flop with a very strong under-repped hand.

By the way, if you are curious how I keep track of all the different players I am playing against even while multi-tabling online poker, yes I do use several software aids and tools.

For the complete list of all the poker software tools I use as a pro, click here.


2. How to Play Ace King When You Hit the Flop


So let's talk about how to play Ace King after the flop now. And let's start with the easy flops where you hit your top pair top kicker on either an ace high or a king high flop:

A83
K62

On flops like this I am going to be playing my Ace King extremely straightforward at the micros. And what I mean by that is I will be looking to bet all three streets (flop, turn and river) unless the board runout is extremely bad.




As I often discuss on this blog (and in all my books), the best way to play your strong hands at the micros is to play them as simple as humanly possible.

Just make it brain-dead obvious what you have. Seriously.

Because you know what many micro stakes players love to do? Yup that's right, they love to call anyway. With some of them you could literally flip your hand face up and they are still gonna call you.

So there is no point in getting tricky and trying to slowplay against a bunch of recreational players who love to call with any pair or draw. You are just throwing away money by doing that.

As I discuss in Crushing the Microstakes, the best way to destroy these limits is just to bet big and often when you have the best hand.

And I know it might sound counter-intuitive. There must be more to it right? No, there isn't. Just go ahead and bet your strong hands every single time. Thank me later.

I have made 6 figures+ in low stakes poker games over the years by simply making the most obvious (duh) plays over and over again.

When you hit top pair with your Ace King just bet big and often until they give you a clear reason to slow down (such as raising you on the turn or river).


3. How to Play Ace King When You Miss the Flop


Ok so now let's talk about the situation with Ace King that you are really interested in. And that is how to play your hand when you miss the flop.

Because as I mentioned before, this is what will actually happen the majority of the time (2 out of 3 times to be exact).

Well, the first thing to do is not panic. You have to remember that Ace King is still the best non-paired hand in the game. Or in other words, you have the nut no pair!

In many situations your opponent will also have missed the flop with their:

  • AQ
  • AJ
  • KQ
  • QJ
  • JT
  • A5
  • 98


Or whatever else they could have. And yes, you are still way ahead of all of these hands with your Ace King high.

In fact even if they happen to have a pocket pair or they flopped a pair, you still have two huge overcards that could catch up by the turn or the river.

So for the most part I will still be playing my Ace King aggressively by continuation betting on nearly all flops where I miss such as:

J58
T33
942

Because a lot of the time even though I missed the flop they don't have much of anything at all either. Therefore, I can win many easy pots by simply keeping up with the aggression that I started preflop.

Now if you get called on the flop it is important to slow down and understand that you may in fact be beat. It's going to happen sometimes.

So if I get called on the flop with my Ace King and I still have nothing by the turn I will often just give up on the hand.

Please please do not see this as some sort of "weak" play. This is just the reality of poker. Sometimes they will out-flop you and you need to fold and cut your losses.

By the way if you want to know the exact bet sizings that I will use in single raised and 3Bet pots with a missed Ace King, check out Modern Small Stakes where I break it all down for you.


4. How to Play Ace King in a Multi-Way Pot


Lastly, let's talk about how to play your Ace King in a large multi-way pot (3 people or more). Now, if you have played poker at the lower stakes online or live for any amount of time, then you will know that this happens frequently.

Players at these stakes just love to limp into the pot or call raises with all sorts of trash. So you will often go to the flop multi-way when you have Ace King.

Now let me be clear, this isn't the ideal situation. Heads up is much better.

And the reason why is that the chances of somebody having something good like a set, trips, two pair or a strong draw go up big time when there are more people involved.

This means that it will be much harder for you to take down the pot when you miss the flop with a simple CBet (continuation bet).

So to be honest, most of the time when I miss the flop with my Ace King, and I am out of position versus two or more other players, I will just give up (no Cbet).


For Example:

You have AK and raise from early position. You get a caller in middle position and on the button as well.

The flop comes:

T84

In a situation like this where I flop absolutely nothing, and I am out of position versus two players, I will basically just give up on the hand. In other words I will check with the intention of folding to any significant bet.

Now once again, you should not view this as some sort of "weak" or "pussy" play. Getting your ego involved in poker is a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes the best play that you can make is to simply cut your losses and move on to the next hand. In large multi-way pots when I miss the flop and I am out of position, this is usually what I will do.


Final Thoughts


Knowing how to play Ace King optimally at the lower limits is absolutely crucial to your success.

And that is because Ace King is one of the strongest hands in the game and you will be dealt it much more often than hands like pocket aces or pocket kings for example (remember that there are many more combinations of Ace King than these hands).

But the reality is that Ace King is a pretty simple hand to play. Many people try to over-complicate it and think too deeply especially when they miss the flop (as you will most of the time).

The best way to play your Ace King at the micro stakes in particular is just to play it as straightforward as possible. When you hit your top pair just bet until you are given a clear reason not to do so.

And when you miss the flop with your Ace King you should also keep up the aggression with a flop CBet most of the time because you often still have the best hand and they will simply fold.

However, if they are still around by the turn and you still have absolutely nothing, please please just let it go. The worst thing you can do at these stakes is get your ego involved and try to bluff a calling station who isn't gonna fold his bottom pair no matter what!

Lastly, like with all hands, you need to be extra careful in large multi-way pots. The odds of somebody having something strong go way up. Don't make the mistake of going broke with one pair in spots like this.

And finally, if you want to know how I became a professional poker player and travel the world (and how you can do it too), make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Let me know in the comments below how you play Ace King. Does this hand give you trouble?

How to play Ace King

How to Play Pocket Jacks - This Might Shock You

How to Play Pocket Jacks
People often ask me how to play pocket jacks. And believe me I get it, pocket jacks is a tricky hand to play. In fact many people absolutely hate this hand!

However, it is also important to remember that pocket jacks is one of the absolute strongest hands you can be dealt in No Limit Hold'em, and therefore, it will also be one of your most profitable hands.

But it is important to know when to bet and raise strongly with your pocket jacks and when you need to lay it down.

In this article I am going to show you step by step how to start playing your pocket jacks much more profitably at the poker tables.


1. Always Raise or Re-Raise Preflop With Pocket Jacks


First things first, you should almost always be raising or re-raising with your pocket jacks before the flop in No Limit Hold'em.

The reason why is because like I just mentioned, pocket jacks is one of the absolute strongest hands in the game, and therefore you want to get lots of money in the pot while you hold a strong advantage.

My general rule of thumb for raising pocket jacks is to make it 3 times the big blind if I am the first person to enter the pot. This is a standard raise size in most no limit cash games.


For Example:

You have JJ in a $1/$2 cash game and it folds to you on the button.

You should raise it to $6


Now there are going to be some cases though where somebody has already raised before you enter the pot (or somebody has limped).

In the case of limpers my general rule is just to make it 3x plus one additional big blind per limper.


For Example:

You have JJ on the button in a $1/$2 cash game and two players have already limped in.

You should raise it to $10


What about if somebody else has already raised it before you get to act though? My general rule of thumb for situations like this is to make it:

  • 3x the original raise if I am in position versus the preflop raiser
  • 4x the original raise if I am out of position versus the preflop raiser


In Position Example:

You have JJ on the button in a $1/$2 cash game and somebody in middle position has raised it to $6.

You should re-raise (3Bet) to $18


Out of Position Example:

You have JJ in the big blind in a $1/$2 cash game and somebody in middle position has raised it to $6.

You should re-raise (3Bet) to $24


If you want to know more about all my bet sizing recommendations for the micro stakes, I cover all of this in much more detail in Crushing the Microstakes.

Now there is one very important caveat to this strategy for playing your pocket jacks preflop though. And this is when you are up against an extremely tight player who has raised from early position (also sometimes called "under the gun").

In this case I will sometimes just flat call with my pocket jacks, especially when I am in position, because this player's range is likely to be extremely narrow.

Remember that in general people are going to have the tightest range in early position. And of course we are already talking about an extremely tight player!


So in this situation he may only be raising with a range of hands as narrow as:

  • AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT and AK


And as you can see below our pocket jacks are actually a statistical underdog to this range:

How to Play Pocket Jacks

So the last thing I want to do is get in a raise and re-raise war with this type of player in this situation. I would rather flat call instead (especially when in position) and just outplay him after the flop instead.


2. How to Play Pocket Jacks on a Low Card Flop


So let's talk about how to play pocket jacks after the flop now. And the key thing here is that the flop texture will play a hugely important role in our strategy.

Let's talk about low card boards first where we have an overpair, such as:

259

33T

On low card flops like this my general strategy is going to be to play my pocket jacks strongly by betting big and frequently.

I want to get the maximum value from all 2nd best hands in a situation like this such as top pair, middle pair, bottom pair or a draw.

And it is extremely important for your poker winrate that you don't miss getting in all value bets in a spot like this!

So I will usually be looking to get three streets of value here. And what I mean by that is I will be looking to bet the flop, turn and river.




The only time I may slow down and alter my strategy is if the board runout is extremely bad. For example the turn comes with a King and the river comes with an Ace.

Or, I will slow down (and perhaps even fold) if I get some serious pushback especially in the form of a raise on the turn or the river from my opponent.

As I have discussed before, most players at the micros are very passive and so when they put in a raise on what I call the "big money" streets (turn and river), usually it is because they have something pretty good.

And what I mean by that is something stronger than a one pair hand. So it is important that you are able to spot these situations and know when to fold an overpair like pocket jacks.

However, the bottom line is that pocket jacks is an extremely strong hand and most of the time when you catch a low card flop like this, you will have the best hand.

So don't be shy about betting and don't bother slowplaying at the lower limits either. Because another classic hallmark of micro stakes players is that many of them just love to call.


3. How to Play Pocket Jacks on an Ace, King or Queen Flop


Alright so now that we know how to play pocket jacks on a low card board let's talk about the dreaded high card flop where it comes with an ace, king, queen or a combination of them.


For Example:

A72

K66

Q83

Now it is important to note that statistically this is going to happen quite a bit when you have pocket jacks. In fact, there will be an overcard on the flop 57% of the time when you have pocket jacks.

So it is important to know how to play your pocket jacks right in this situation.

And the key thing here is that you need to exercise some caution. You are probably only going to be able to get two streets of value at the most on one of these boards from any competent player.


So on these high card flops I will often look to take a line such as:

  • Bet the flop, check the turn, bet the river
  • Check the flop, bet the turn, bet the river


When you take one of these lines you create something that I call "deception value" which I explain in much greater detail in The Microstakes Playbook.

But basically what I mean by this is that by exercising some pot control by checking either the flop or turn, you under-rep the strength of your hand in order to get some curious calls from worse hands such as middle or bottom pair.




Now once again you do need to know when to slow down though and possibly even fold your pocket jacks. This will be specifically when you get raised on either the turn or the river.

Because like I said before, most micro stakes players are not going to be messing around when they raise you on one of these two streets.

But at the same time you always want to try and get the maximum value with your pocket jacks and therefore you still want to get those value bets in whenever you can.


4. How to Play Pocket Jacks in Multi-Way Pots


Lastly, let's talk about how to play your pocket jacks in big multi-way pots with 3 or more players going to the flop. If you play low stakes poker, you have undoubtedly encountered this situation many times.

And that is because these games often have lots of loose recreational players in them and therefore it is very common to get multiple callers preflop.

I use a lot of different poker software by the way so that I always know who the recreational players at the table are. For all the poker software I use, here is my complete list.

So, similar to the situation with high card flops, you do need to exercise some caution in big multi-way pots with your pocket jacks. And yes, even on good low card flops like we talked about before.

And the reason why is because it is just statistically a lot more likely that somebody flopped something good like two pair, a set or a big draw when there are so many players involved.

It is important that you get the maximum value with your pocket jacks by value betting but you also have to respect when somebody starts giving you some serious pushback by raising.

And quite frankly when I have pocket jacks in a multi-way pot and I catch a bad high card flop I will often not even bother CBetting and just mostly look to get to a cheap showdown. This is especially the case when I am out of position.


For Example:

You have JJ in early position, raise it up, and get 1 caller in middle position and 1 call on the button.

The flop comes A84

In a situation like this where I am out of position to both of the other players in the hand I will usually just check and maybe make a small bet on the turn or river.

For the most part I am just going to play these kinds of situations very cautiously and look to get to a cheap showdown.

But I also won't just auto-fold when somebody takes a stab at the pot. The reason why is because I know that when I take a very passive line like this with my pocket jacks that it is going to invite some bluffs.


Final Thoughts


Learning how to play pocket jacks more effectively is extremely important for your success at the low limit poker tables in particular.

And the reason why is that pocket jacks is one of the absolute most powerful hands in the game and therefore it will also be one of your biggest long term winning hands.

It is important not to fear pocket jacks. Yes it is true that you will lose the pot a fair amount of the time when you get dealt this hand.

This is especially the case when you catch a bad high card flop or you are in a large multi-way pot. It is important to limit your losses in these situations.

But at the same time you also need to know when to step on the gas pedal especially on favorable low card flops and get the maximum value out of the calling stations who just can't fold their middle pair or draw.

If you want to know how I became a poker pro traveling the world, and how you can do it too, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Let me know in the comments below how you play your pocket jacks. Does this hand give you trouble?

How to Play Pocket Jacks