Games: Poker

Ace-King at hold 'em is known as "Big Slick". It is a notoriously tricky hand to play. An example analysed by poker writer Mason Malmuth shows the kind of reasoning involved. The player concerned was a young woman, a fairly solid player, still learning, playing in a $6-$12 limit raise game at the Mirage. A weak player limped in from middle position. She raised with 4A 2K, sitting two seats off the button. The player on the button (last to speak) reraised (making it three bets), the small blind and the limper called (both probably incorrectly), and the lady called. The implication was that the player on the button held a very strong hand.

The flop was !K-4K-23 which looked perfect for her. It was checked round to her and she decided (correctly) to check along. In this situation it was almost automatic for the button to bet. She could then check-raise him and catch one or both of the other players in the pot as well. But the button checked! It certainly seems wrong to give the other players a free card. So what could he have? Most likely A-K as well, possibly a pair of aces (the idea being to get a double bet on the turn.) The turn card was &6. The player who had originally limped in now bet out (trip 6s? or a bluff?) and everyone called. The river card was the &A. Here is the lady's hand:

(4A 2K) !K 4K 23 &6 &A

The small blind checked, the limper checked, the young lady bet and the player on the button raised.

Now we know what he's got! It had to be at least A-K, possibly aces wired. The others dropped and the lady reraised. Did she make the right play? If she had put the opponent on A-K or A-A, she was either tied or beaten. Thus, she had no equity in re-raising. The button merely called - apparently he was afraid of four kings - and showed his pocket rockets. What was the lady's major error? asks Malmuth. She made the classic mistake of just playing the strength of her own hand, without considering what her opponent held. And she failed to make the proper effort to read hands through each playing round. Tough.

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