Ace-king is a poker hand with a mixed reputation. To begin with, this poker combination is indisputably one of the most powerful starting hands you can hope to be dealt in Texas Hold’em poker. It’s one of the few hands you can play from any position, suited or unsuited. At the same time, Big Slick is a notoriously slippery customer. You have to know just when to hold it and when to fold it, or it’ll lose you a lot of money. The good news is that by following a few simple guidelines, you can improve your performance whenever you’re holding an ace and a king any time you play poker online. For tips to develop your own ace-king poker strategy, keep on reading.
What Is the Big Slick in Poker?
“Big Slick” is poker lingo for ace-king, a hand that can be as tricky as its nickname suggests. Rumor has it that it used to be called “Santa Barbara,” in a tongue-in-cheek nod to the 1969 oil spill disaster. Over time, it earned the snappier name, “Big Slick.”
Despite its risks, ace-king is usually a strong hand in your arsenal. In Texas Hold ’em, it simply means you’ve got an ace and a king as your hole cards. Sure, it’s a bit slippery and can cost you a fortune, but it’s also flexible, especially when those cards match.
Other cool nicknames for “Big Slick” include “Space Cowboy,” “Walking Back to Houston,” “Big Ugly,” “Santa Barbara,” “Ass Kicker,” “Machine Gun,” and “Big Slick in a Suit” when your cards are suited.
The first step to understanding how to play ace-king profitably is to know that it’s a drawing hand. In fact, when suited, it’s ranked as the top drawing hand in the game, with great potential to hit a nut flush, provided you connect with the board. That’s where so many beginner players go wrong. They play like they’re holding a premium hand just because it’s got an ace and a king in it. Then they find out why this hand is sometimes referred to as the Anna Kournikova of poker (it looks good, but never wins.) The fact is that you need to have a variety of poker strategies up your sleeve to get the most out of Big Slick in a game of Texas Hold’em online. You’ve got to know how to act preflop and your postflop approach has to consider whether you’re playing heads up or in a multiple pot.
Preflop Poker Strategy
Your odds of flopping an ace or a king when you’re holding King Arthur (king-ace, get it?) are approximately +245. This gives you +233 odds of outflopping even pocket pairs and puts you ahead of any opponent who isn’t holding a pair. This is an open invitation to drive the action aggressively from the very start. Preflop, your aim should be to thin out the pot (ideally, you want to play heads up postflop,) define your opponents’ range and put money into the pot. Open raise if the pot is unopened. No limping. Re-raise against a single raise. Against a 3-bet, raise unless it’s a big 3-bet from the blinds, in which case it’s okay to call. Facing a 4-bet? Continue. Alternatively, shove (especially if your opponent is playing a balanced range.)
Postflop Poker Strategy
What you do with Big Slick after the flop depends on whether you connect with the board or not. If you hit the flop and make top pair or better, keep up the aggression with a c-bet. Should you miss the flop and you’re playing heads up, you’ll want to consider your position and the texture of the board. If the board is dry, nobody’s likely to draw and you have six outs for top pair, so a C-bet makes sense. Alternatively, check-call in the hope that your opponent checks back and lets you see the turn for free.
What if the flop is wet and scary? Say you’ve got ace-king (spades,) and the flop comes 9-8-7 (clubs.) There’s no drawing potential for you here. At best, you’ve got ace-high against a potential flush or straight. It’s better to cut your losses, even if you put a lot of money into the pot preflop.
If you’re facing multiple opponents and you didn’t connect with the board, apply the brakes. Chances are that someone else did hit the flop, so any further big bets are pointless.
Going All In
Whether it’s at a medieval fair or in the game of poker, King Arthur loves a tournament. And he loves to go all in. That’s because tournament players faced with antes tend to raise and re-raise much more easily than in cash games. In fact, it’s fairly common to see players shove with ace-jack, ace-queen, king-queen, ace-10 and pairs. Ace-king will dominate these hands completely and allow you to shove with confidence, too. The fact that you’re holding an ace and a king greatly reduces the chances of your opponent also holding a big pair of aces or kings, which are the deadliest hands to move all in against.
Exceptions to the Rule
Every rule has its exceptions. Aggression is the general rule for playing a hand containing an ace and a king in poker, but there will be times when you want to flat-call instead of raising or re-raising. If your opponent is an expert at reading your range and you want to disguise your hand, calling is the way to go. Another reason is to be more unpredictable. Say your opponent believes you always raise with Big Slick. If you flat-call, they’ll assume that your hand is weaker than it is. This helps to keep opponents with weaker hands in the pot instead of folding to your re-raise. That way, you get more value, which ultimately translates into more winnings.
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