Ace King is a tricky hand, and even more so when you are deciding when and how to get it all-in preflop. Awhile back I created this quiz to test your knowledge of AK and the lines you’d take with it when facing committing decisions preflop. In this video, I breakdown the answers of thousands of poker players, share the correct answers, and walk you through the decision matrix when choosing your plays with Ace King!
AK vs TT
This is a pretty easy one. How much equity does AK offsuit have against TT? Again, just talking from an all-in preflop standpoint.
We notice that 47% of the people who answered said 43%, and another 47% said that AK had 48% equity against TT. And the some small subset of people thought that AK was actually ahead in this situation, or possibly misread the question? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that not quite that many people assume that AK has an equity edge.
Let’s proof it real quick, and this is just stuff we want to know. So AK offsuit against TT, evaluate it, good to go. Notice that AK has 43% equity. For this review I’m using Equilab. If you don’t already know how to use it, I have created a video showing how to use Equilab here.
Now, some people may get here and say, “What about AKs?” Okay, fine, that’s totally fair. Let’s check that out. So AKs jumps up to 46% equity, but notice that we’re still not at that 48%. Just in general, the double broadway hand is always going to be behind to the pocket pair. There are rare times with information where that could change. For instance, let’s say both 10s were dead in the deck, so I’ll just take two different 10s and evaluate it. And now all of a sudden, you notice that the overcards can take the equity edge, but that’s only with extraneous information. Notice that if we have a different pocket pair, one that doesn’t necessarily conflict the straight potential with AK, we could use a 10 for making broadway, and there’s a little bit of an equity bump, but still not a crazy one.
Remember that when you’re dealing with the big or small pocket pairs that’s in the conflict zone, so in this situation, TT conflicts with AK making broadway, that’s going to change the equity ever so slightly, but again, it’s always going to be behind without other information. So that is AK against TT, nice and simple. Hopefully you got that one right.
AK vs QQ+/AK
Question 2 is slightly different, it’s a little bit tougher. How much equity does AKs have against a range? This time the range is going to be QQ+/AK. Again, when we’re talking about AK all in preflop. That’s really what this quiz is trying test you on and trying to help you with, you have to know these kind of equity breakdowns. If you don’t know them, it’s going to make even a basic AK preflop more difficult. It may seem a little cumbersome, a little technical, and a little too nerdy. I totally get if that’s the case but I assure you, understanding these equity breakdowns is going to be super helpful in the long run.
We notice that in this situation, 46% of people said that AKs was going to have 42% equity. Another 42% of people said 36% and so on. Some people even thought that AK would be ahead in this scenario. I mean, even just looking at it, you know that can’t possibly be true because AK is going to chop against AK, it’s behind the coin flip against QQ, and it’s crushed by KK and AA. So of course AKs is not going to be ahead here in the equity sense.
Let’s just proof it real quick. So we have Ace of spades, King of spades. We’re running against a range of QQ plus AK. Of course, the AK is going to be blocked out because we do have AK yourself so that brings us to 42% equity. So the average person was correct here, but more than half the people that filled this quiz out did not really know.
Here’s the honest truth; yes, memorizing some of these equity breakdowns is a little time-consuming and it’s going to take up some mental brain space. But it’s something that you’ll want to have. If I get lazy and I’m not doing a tremendous amount of study right at that moment, or a take a month off and I’m not doing these kinds of equity calculations as often, I will forget them. Now, it’s not that I’m going to forget them cold turkey and be like, “I don’t know, AK? Is that, like, 85% equity?” It’s not that bad, but it’s going to slip a little bit.
So if you’re going to go play a rack of tournaments or you’re going to start taking a month really seriously, just make sure to refresh yourself real quick. It’s like riding a bike, your brain will remember them once you re-practice them, but I assure you if you spend the time and practice with it, it is going to be very, very helpful. It’s really going to help you take a more mathematical and technical approach when it comes to choosing when to go all-in preflop profitably you’re going to have better information doing so.
Getting AK AIPF vs A TAG
In this next section we’re actually going to break down a hand. So this is a hand where we’re at $1/$2. We have $200 starting stacks, so $100 big blinds. A TAG opens to $10 from middle position, folds to you on the button. And, of course, in $2/$5, opening a 5x is very standard, so don’t feel like this is totally weird. If you’re an online player, these sizes will differ slightly.
So a TAG opens to $10 from MP, folds you on the button with AKs. You 3bet to $35. Everyone folds to that same TAG, who then re-raises to $80 total. If we assume that his 4bet range is only QQ plus AK and that he will never, ever fold if you shove, is a shove +EV here?
You may be looking at this and saying, “I don’t have any idea how the heck I would solve this.” Okay, let’s break it down real quick and take care of it. There are two major things that we can use for solving this. Again, this is all stuff that we do off table, so that in real time, we can look at a situation like this and say, “Oh, yeah, I pretty much know what I’m doing here.”
Oddly enough, the setup is pretty much the exact same. We have AKs against QQ plus AK. So we still have that 42% equity. Now, this is my going all-in preflop spreadsheet. This is very, very helpful and it is available for free if you want to download it and you use Excel. I think you might be able to use it in Google Sheets as well.
In this situation, what do we have? So we just enter a couple of pieces of information. The pot size before we shove is going to be $118, his $80 4bet, plus our $35 3bet. The blind is in there as well, so $118. How much do we have to call right this moment? Well, $45. We have $35 in there, he went to $80 total, so $45 more to match that. In the stack, how much are we really shoving for? $165 because we already put $35 in there. And our equity against his all-in range is $42 because we just calculated that in Equilab. 42% equity is what we have here.
So how wide is his original range and how wide is his stack off range? So in this situation, we’re assuming both of those numbers are the exact same. You could write $55 and $55 here. It wouldn’t really matter. All that matters is that there’s no gaps, so there’s no folding going on from villain.
We actually notice in this situation that it is +EV to the tune of $4, so two big blinds. So not the most profitable thing in the entire world, but we notice that it is slightly profitable. And down here, you’re maybe looking at this being like, “What the heck is going on here?” Well, this I made just to make analyzing similar scenarios easier. If your equity was increased by 5%, what would it look like? And then so on and so on, all the way up to 10 on both the folds and the equity, to negative 10 on both the folding and the equity.
We notice the average person, almost two-thirds of people that took this, thought that this was actually not +EV. So this is something that you really want to have hammered out, even more so if you’re a tournament player where you’re going to be getting AK all-in preflop more often.
In this scenario, the average person was very, very wrong. We mathematically proved that and we can go forward from there. Now, again, this doesn’t say that you have to shove here. That doesn’t say that flatting couldn’t be more profitable. I’m just proving the math given the exact question that was given.
Getting AK AIPF vs A LAG
Okay, this next situation, we have a slightly different spot, but this time we are playing $2/$5, and we have $600 effective stacks. So you open from the high jack to $20 with AK. The button is a lag, he resteals to $70, he folds to you, what’s your play?
In this situation, we’ve got a couple of different options. 4bet and call the shove, just call, 4bet and fold if he shoves, or just fold to the 3bet. So 4% of people said just fold to the 3bet. No, no, no, no, no. You cannot do that. Against a lag, a lag is definitely going to be 3betting with not just the ultra, ultra nuts, and as such, you definitely cannot be folding AK here. If you’re folding AK against someone who 3bets really, really liberally, then of course you’re folding too often and you’re actually inviting them to continue absolutely raising your preflop and making your life an absolute hell. So please, please don’t do that. The options are really between 1, 2 and 3: 4bet call, 4bet fold, or just call the 3bet.
I always like to start by proofing this kind of stuff mathematically and then going from there. Again, in real time, you’re not going to be able to do this. This is all stuff you do off table, so that it becomes ingrained. In real time, you can estimate these things better and say, “okay, this is a good spot to do X, Y” or not so much. Also keep in mind that we open from the hi-jack, so kind of a steal-ish position. They are 3betting from the button, so definitely something that I think they’re going to be doing with not just the ultra nuts and we’ll go forward.
We can use both things again. Notice this time we have Ako, so we’ll just work with that start from here. The reason I like to start with the spreadsheet is because this is actually supposed to be used for situations where you 4bet preflop with a commitment mindset. If we 4bet, we don’t have to 4bet shove for $600 over a $70 3bet, but if we were going to 4bet to something like $170 and they shove, we’re definitely going to be calling that shove if that’s the line that we choose, then we can run the math with 4betting and a commitment mindset. So essentially the entire $600 is at risk when we are doing this kind of calculation. That’s what I would work with here.
In this situation, the pot size before we decide to do that, their $70, plus our $20, plus the blinds, let’s just round it up to a flat $100, nice and easy. How much do we have to call? Well, again, $50 to just call the difference between those two. So we already have $600 to start, we put in $20 to go, so $580 left, and our equity against their all-in range. There’s two major things that we need left; one is the equity and the other is the fold equity part of the whole equation.
Let’s start with the equity against the all-in range. If we were to get an all-in preflop here, we open hi-jack, they 3bet button, we 4bet. What range are they going to get? Well, I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that it’s going to be, TT plus AK, then probably AQs to some extent.
Now, of course, you may look at this and say, “Well, I massively disagree with that. I don’t think that this person is ever going to stack TT. I just think they’re going to do something else with it” or you don’t think that they would 3bet with some of these hands. Whatever it is, fine. This is the assumption that I’m going to make and I’m going to run the math off of it.
This is the range I’m going to build for the time being. Again, part of this is because my image is most likely pretty wet and aggressive. I think they’re definitely not going to be folding 4bet TT against me, so equity is 43%.
So, how wide do we think he’s 3betting and what is his stack off range? Well, we know his stack off range is roughly about 4, so we’re going to do a 4. That’s how much is stacking, and then how wide is he going to 3bet?
Again, I don’t think that he’s just going to 3bet with a range that he wants to get all-in preflop with me. I think some of the time, the lag is going to 3bet A4o or 97o or whatever hands he wants to blow off with. So I think there are definitely going to be some hands that will 3bet fold in this scenario.
I’m going to take this to start light and just go 8%. So we’re getting some folds about half the time, then the rest of the time, we’re getting it in with 43% equity. Notice in that scenario, we are still +EV to the tune of $20. And if we look at this through the spreadsheet, looking at things that are similar, if we reduce 5% fold equity or increase 5% on both the fold equity and the equity chunk, then all of a sudden, we’re doing better and better. So in this scenario, I’m definitely thinking that 4bet is going to profitable. Again, that’s 4betting with the commitment mindset, so definitely snapping off.
What the majority of people said is to 4bet and call if he shoves. I think it’s definitely going to profitable. I definitely don’t want to be folding, AK against their 3bets. I also don’t want to 4bet fold because when he does decide to shove, it’s going to be just fine given the fact that we’re going to 4bet to a number and that’s going to give us a decent price on the way back.
I think 4bet folding is really bad. I think cold folding against the 3bet is awful. So the other options are really between a 4bet call if he shoves, or call the 50 on the 3bet. The thing is, if I was going to be giving credit, I would give both of these equal weight. I think they’re both correct.
The major thing that I’m focusing on in that scenario is; should I flat here or should I go for the 4bet? Is one thinking about the dynamic and how the rest of the session is going to play out with this individual? Do I want to dissuade this person from constantly 3betting my opens? Mind you, they have position on me a large chunk of the time. If that’s the case, 4betting now, putting my foot down and saying, “No, you’re not just going to sit here.” 3Bet me the whole session is definitely going to be a valuable, valuable thing. So that’s thinking future dynamic.
The other thing you could say is “Okay, well, what if I 4bet and he plays pretty darn close to perfect against that” Well, then I would say, “Okay, well what is my edge if I just decide to flat here and play poker?” Mind you, we’re going to be out of position. We have a hand that’s obviously pretty darn good, but it’s going to be pretty tricky to play out of position, so you have to think about your edges in the 4bet war and also just to flat the 3bet war, which one of those is going to be better? Also what’s the future dynamic regardless of the line you take?
I know that’s a lot to consider, and it’s even more important when you’re talking about a good, competent, aggressive player who has your left. You definitely want to think about that future dynamic and don’t just always fall into, “Well, I’m going to flat the 3bet and thicken up the call part of my 3bet range.” Okay, well, what’s that going to do for the rest of the session and how good or bad is that for you? So long tangent, and again, definitely agreeing with the average person that did say to 4bet call if he shoves. But again, really make sure that you’re not just playing super, super nitty. This 4% of people, I love you guys, but I want to see you guys not play so nitty in the future and get yourself into some bad spots.
Getting AK AIPF vs An Unknown
In this final example, we are playing $1/$2 live again with $300 effective stacks this time, so $150 big blinds. You open from the cut-off to $10 with Ako, folds to the big blind who 3bets to $35, you 4bet to $80, and they shove. You have no history and no information on the big blind. What’s your play?
Again, we use the math we have in that same spreadsheet, the one that we just did for the shoving EV, there’s also another sheet or page where you can jump over to calling shoves and then you can get this exact same kind of equation. Of course it’s much more simplified, there’s only a couple of numbers that we need here. One is pot size before calling, which is $380, his $300 shove, plus our $80 4bets, and technically we want to include the small blind, but $380 is fine.
How much do we have to call? Well, we already put in $80, so we only have $220 more to call in this scenario. And the last thing we need is our equity when we call. So this is where it starts to become a little bit more subjective.
Again, we have AKo. Let’s start with a couple of different kinds of ranges. So let’s assume that he’s only going to shove the nuts, Kings plus and that’s it. So in that scenario, we have 18%. If you think that this person is only shoving with the ultra nuts, of course, calling here is absolutely horrible. Now let’s widen that out to a little bit more of a reasonable range, QQ plus AK, evaluate that. Notice that we get a huge equity bump. Now we’re up to 39%. Perfect.
This is just a scenario where if you are assuming that the big blind is only shoving the ultra nuts, sure, you can fold. If you make the assumption that the big blind is shoving with QQ plus AK or anything wider than that, then you have to call. It’s not even a question. So, yeah, I would definitely agree with the average person who said call here.
The people that said fold, again, I’m probably either saying one of two things. Either they’re assigning ranges that are too nitty and kind of monsters under the bed, or they just simply don’t know this math and they’re folding too much because they’re scared, they have AK, they don’t have the nuts, thus they don’t want to get anything other than nuts all-in preflop.
That veers back to either being, one, too nitty, or, two, scared without enough math basis. Because if you have the math, then you’re not scared about anything.
These are questions and hands that are very, very important. Obviously, in tournament play, they’re going to come up a lot in terms of getting AK all-in preflop. But even in cash games, you’re going to have these scenarios where it’s, “Okay, do I get AK in here? Yes or no?” And a lot of the times when you’re playing against really nitty opponents in live games, maybe you only really do get it in with KK+ preflop.
I really hope you enjoyed this quiz. I hope you got all the right answers or at least were in a similar boat but if you didn’t, that’s okay. It just means you need a little bit of study, a little bit of practice, probably mess with Equilab a little bit, mess with that spreadsheet for a little bit. This stuff will start to become second nature with time.