How to Play Ace King: It Might Surprise 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.

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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:


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.

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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:


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.

I discuss all this in much more detail in Modern Small Stakes.

This includes the exact bet sizings that I will use in single raised and 3Bet pots with a missed flop with Ace King.

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:


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. 

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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.

Lastly, if you want to learn how to start making $1000+ per month from low stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of, 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


  1. I am always opening AK, I am nearly always 3-betting it, and I am fairly often 4-betting it as well. However if my 3-bet is met with a 4-bet, or my 4-bet is met with a 5-bet, I will often look to fold my AK preflop. This is especially the case, if I am playing full ring, and the opponent is a typical TAG regular in these games with a 100 BB stack.

    The reason is, when these guys put in a 4-bet or 5-bet, its AA or KK like maybe 80% of the time. So if you mindlessly stack off AK against them, time and time again you will find yourself getting “coolered” by one of the exact two hands, you did not want to run into. You then blame it on your rotten luck, but the reality is, they are just not 4-betting or 5-betting you wide enough to justify giving them action with AK.

    1. Great points as always Lars. Thanks for your thoughts. My next poker YouTube video will be a bluff hand that you sent me. Probably tomorrow it will go up!

  2. Solid advice and very well written as always Tnx, Hope You have a Great Day BlackRain79 much love Peace . . .

    1. Thanks for reading as always Dfox and you too!

  3. What about all-in situations? When can we go all-in or call all-in with AK on preflop?

    1. Hey Zee,

      This is very situational so it is hard to answer. It depends so much on the opponent, the action in the hand (i.e. EP vs BTN, CO vs BTN or Blind vs Blind), any history, the stack sizes and so on.

      This is why some people write entire books on poker :)

  4. What about if you hit the flop, in position, but an opponent bets first? Are you willing to call 3 streets with TPTK?

    1. Depends on the opponent. Versus a nit I am probably not gonna call all 3 streets. Versus a more aggressive reg often I will. Versus a passive fish, yes always calling all 3 streets, sometimes raising too. Versus a maniac fish, always calling, often raising also.

      The board runout will also impact my decision making versus all player types.

  5. On the one hand, it's almost impossible to put the other on a J4s. You have to be a complete fish to play that, so a complete fish we have. I agree the flop bet should have been higher; I expected a bet of about 60c. It wouldn't have driven the guy out of the hand, but his call would give me more information, or at least more to be concerned about. I'm floating the turn. Yes, I have top pair and a draw but he could have 2 pair or a set, and at the least I want his bet sizing to tell me something. And yeah, I agree to fold the river. It kind of goes back to one of the early bits of poker wisdom I absorbed: "Never go broke to a pair."