Ace-King, also known as Big Slick, is a very strong starting hand but it’s important to remember that it’s still a drawing situation and there are many ways to go about playing such a hand. The way you should strategize for playing Ace-King depends on several factors such as the type of game you’re playing in, what’s happened pre-flop and more. Let’s take a look at some of the important aspects to keep an eye out for when you’re lucky enough to be holding Big Slick.

Tournament or Cash Game?

Before getting into the different scenarios you may come across while holding Ace-King, it’s important to know your table and know your opponent. Poker is a game that provides many different strategic options. Understanding the type of table you’re playing at and the opponent you’re playing against will go a long way in helping you select the correct strategy for how to play your hand.

Ace-King is a solid starting hand in nearly any format, but the strength of the Big Slick is even greater when playing in a tournament. As opposed to a cash game, where players can take their time and pick their spots to be aggressive, tournament play has blinds that can rise quickly. This causes many players to force the issue by raising when they’re holding any hand that includes an Ace in an attempt to steal the blinds. This would put you in a very good position to push all-in, as Big Slick is the strongest of all hands which include an Ace. On the flip side, playing Ace-King in a cash game can be a bit more risky. Without the pressure of rapidly elevating blinds, players at cash tables are far less likely to push all-in pre-flop unless they’re holding AA or KK. In either of these scenarios, Ace-King would have very little chance of winning the hand.

To Raise or Not to Raise?

Generally speaking, Ace-King is not a hand where you want multiple opponents seeing the flop. Aside from the odd exception, the best you’re looking for heading into the flop is to hit either your Ace or King and hold the top pair with the best kicker at the table.

With that reason in mind, it’s a smart move to raise before the flop when holding Ace-King to ensure that you don’t have too many players heading to the flop and hitting 2 pair or 3 of a kind. With a decent raise before any community cards are turned over, it will be very difficult for a player holding an average hand to make the call.

If an opponent re-raises your Ace-King pre-flop, unless you have tagged them as a loose or reckless player it would be wise to lay your hand down. While it may seem like a very defensive play, there is some strong logic behind it.

If a player is re-raising you pre-flop, there is a good chance they’re holding AA or KK. If that’s the case, your Big Slick is now dominated. On top of that, if you call the re-raise and the card you share with your opponent hits on the flop, you are now in serious trouble and could lose your entire stack. On the flip side, on the off chance that your opponent is holding a smaller pair, they are still likely to fold the moment an Ace or King hits the table, making the risk hardly worth the reward.