Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is Ace-King Worth $120?

One evening last month I walked into BSC to settle in for a night of poker.  I get to the 1/2 NL table and, on my third hand, I find pocket Aces.  I was the big blind, and the guy to my immediate left had decided to straddle ($4).  OK, not bad.  One guy calls the $4, then another player makes it $14.  I like that.
Folds to me, and I make it $32.  Now I didn’t have any reads yet on any of the players, but then, they didn’t have any reads on me, either.  The straddler thinks a long time, then folds.  The guy who called $4 originally announces “all in!”  Be still my heart.  The original raiser also thinks for a bit.  The shove was about $120, but he’s looking at my stack, which is still pretty much the $200 I had bought in for.  He looks me up and down, and finally says, “I’m worried about you.” Nice of him to show concern.  And then mucks.  
So it’s just the two of us now, me with my pocket rockets, him with…who knows?  A limp/shove is an odd move.  I suppose he could have had the other two Aces.  It’s a weird move to make with Kings.  Queens?  AK?  Remember, the guy had no read on me.  Anyway, of course, I insta-call. 
The guy flips over his cards. Ace-King it is.  OK, I’m happy, and my Aces hold up.  I pick up over $130 on my third hand of the night, not bad.  The guy doesn’t rebuy and leaves without a word.
Now I suppose the fact that he didn’t rebuy tells me something.  But I still have to wonder about his play.  First of all, most people are going to raise there with AK.  But then, whatever, why the hell do you risk $120 on Ace-King?
Seriously.  How is Ace-King worth $120?  Especially with two raises in front of you?  Not one, but two?  I mean, that wouldn’t be a bad fold there, would it?  A call at the very most. 
I know in a tournament situation, AK plays very different, and is a very good hand to shove with, depending on the situation.  But there, in a cash game?  If he was shorter stacked, maybe.  If he’s got $50-$60 there, sure, take a shot.  But that seems like an awful lot of money to put out there without a pair preflop—in the face of two players who obviously like their hands a whole lot.
I don’t get it.  I’ve seen it before and I just don’t get it.
I suppose the fact that he left may have had something to do with.  Maybe he was about to call it a night anyway, and he just assume gamble with his last $120 as he would take his chips to the cashier.  Try to double up.
I dunno.  If you’re that cavalier about $120, might as well take the money to the blackjack or the craps table, if you ask me.

But good for me.  With the same dealer, right before he was done with his down, I won another good sized pot.  As I tipped him again, I said that he does good work, and I would be sure to speak to the manager about him.
Unfortunately, the rest of night wasn’t so good.  It was drip, drip, drip, losing back chips.  I ended up a winner, but not by much.  The night had started promisingly enough and ended on a low note. 
I believe there’s a saying for this.  Oh yeah…..”that’s poker.”


  1. I would argue that the first raise was pretty weak, so only you had indicated you really liked your hand, the first raise could have easily been an attempt to pick up the limpage in a straddled pot. AK is a hand that wants to see all 5 cards, and the fact that he's holding blockers to AA & KK, suggests to him he probably has fold equity and if not, it's probably no worse than a flip, in most cases. Pretty common to limp in EP w/ a big hand at an aggressive table, hoping to re-raise. Doesn't really sound like that unusual a situation, or particularly bad play. If he intended a re-raise from the start, with the size of your raise and the size of his stack, an all-in re-raise was about the only size that makes sense. He can't very well min-raise/fold there, can he?

    1. Thanks, Anony. I posted the title as a question because this is exactly the kind of comments I'm looking for.

      As the evening played out, it wasn't a very aggressive table, (at least after he left :)), so I dunno that he was counting on raise first--unless he knew the straddler was likely to bump it if no one else do (the straddler left soon after this, as I recall).

      Of course, if he just calls me there, he has enough left to make it worthwhile if the flop misses him. But if an Ace or a King hits, he's gonna lose his stack anyway.

    2. Ace king is always hard to play, I remembered one time I have AK at 1-2 table, someone raised to 15 , there are 3-4 callers before me, I have about 160-180 , I just called, I should just went all in, because of pot is already about 65 , I only have to worry the original raiser have aa or kk. The callers must have medium pair or suited connected cards. Flop king high, everyone checked to me, I bet 35 , one caller, turn blank, I bet 50 , he raised to 120, I knew my hand is no good but the pot is too big to fold now. I called, he show 99 , sure enough there is a 9 on the flop. Poker is not like blackjack where you always follow certain basic strategy like split aces or double down on 11 , today AK guy might look like a clueless donkey to you, next time when you have Ak and lost your whole stack like I did, you will say to yourself next time I am going to play more aggressive before the fop with AK . Anyway I enjoyed reading your blog, because you Always put a lot of interesting stuff beside poker, as a recreational player myself, I looked at some attractive girls dealer or cocktail waitress or players, let ' s face it, poker is boring 90% of time.

    3. Thanks, Anony. Yeah, the trouble with poker is that the best play in any particular situation can be summed up by two words: "It depends." I've made the same analogy between poker and blackjack to my non-poker playing friends to explain why it is such a tough game.

      Also thanks for the kind words about the blog.

  2. Guy raises to $14 and you make it $32. This is only a little more than 2x on the reraise instead of the normal 3x, so is it possible Mr Big Slick put you on AJs or AQ and thought he had you dominated?

    You said you drip drip dripped it back and that is not unusual after I nice pot I would imagine, so have you ever contemplated a stop win amount. You know that variance is going to play into poker it is unavoidable, so do you think it's possible by saying, if I double my buy-in I am done and the money is pocketed, or has it been your experience that when things are going well at a table then you have a good chance at leaving with 3 or 4 times your buy-in. Also what about a 50/50 approach. Whatever you highest amount of profit you have on the table at any one time, if you lose 50% of that profit, your done. Thoughts?

    1. Thanks for the advice, FlushDraww. I'm still experiementing with a stop win amount. Once I'm at BSC I'm really inclined to play there for the night, rather than thinking of booking the win, which I suppose is a problem. But really....it's all one long session, right?

      But as I progess, I'm definitely considering different options for stopping.

  3. When I was a newbie and very inexperienced player I encountered a very similar situation at Ballys one afternoon. I raised in early position with pocket kings (yes the dreaded hand, so you probably see where this is going).

    Persian guy immediately to my left who was raising light and getting really frisky with not much to this point makes it $25. It folds back to me and I think for a bit and decide I'm either way ahead or way behind, so lets get it all in. I shove and he insta-calls. We both show and he has Ace-King off and proclaims, "How can I fold this hand? I cannot fold this hand!" Flop missed him, but the turn was of course an ace and I skulked off to have a nap before my evening dinner reservations with the wife.

    All of that to say that I'm more than happy to play with people who are willing to shove with Ace-King in a cash game preflop against my obvious aces or kings.

    1. Yeah, that sucks, Those damn Pocket Kings.....oh well, you're right, you got it all in in great position and got sucked out on. Yuck.

  4. i sometimes quit once leaving 1% of my net worth back, such as $25 if that still leaves me ahead a bit.