How to Play Big Slick

Playing AK

Big Slick can be a tricky hand to play in both cash games and tournaments. Many players find themselves in precarious situations involving AK in Texas Holdem because they don’t know how to play it. That is partly because players know that pre-flop they are at worse about 50% to win the hand, provided they do not encounter AA or KK.

The major force of the Big Slick is that under the right circumstances you can cause your opponents to fold hands which they shouldn’t, thus raising your equity on the hand to more than 50%. For example, someone raises 20% of their stack in a tournament with 77, you are dealt Big Slick on the BTN and shove all-in. In all likelihood they will fold, expecting to be dominated or coin flipping as the best case scenario.

The mistakes people make, those mistakes that causes them to often lose their Big Slick hands, are by not letting the opponents the chance to make the mistake of folding their hand. A lot of the time you want to play Big Slick like a big pair, by raising and re-raising pre flop before the cards are dealt.

In saying that, every situation in poker is different, and some players see AK and hurry to put all their chips in the pot. This is wrong, and you should try to play them a bit differently.  There are some general guidelines you want to follow most times, which I elaborate on below:

1. Always raise enough so that your opponents can fold their weaker hands. Don’t raise 20 into a pot of 300, since the pot odds will force a call with any hand.

2. Don’t raise too much so that the only hands which will call you are the hands that dominate you. ie. AA/KK. You want to encourage dominated hands to call, so when you make top pair or better, you can win their stack.

3. It’s ok to go all-in – BUT it’s not that ok to call an all-in in all situations.

It is extremely important to keep wary of the stack sizes and blinds, since once an opponent is pot-committed or very short stacked, he will not fold the hand, and you lose some of the equity of the AK in your hand.

An important consideration when playing Big Slick is that even though it is the most powerful drawing hand in Texas Holdem, it is not already a made hand, and the real power of playing this hand is in seeing all 5 cards, otherwise you will sacrifice equity.

When you consider that you will miss the flop 2 out of 3 times and normally only stand a 50% chance of winning the pot anyways with AK,  sometimes just flat-calling preflop and being able to have the OPTION to get away on the flop if you miss can also be a better play at times. Even if you expect to be up against a strong range of TT+/AK for example, in cash games where every play you make is done on the basis of being +EV, it means you should be looking to get stacks in preflop, especially when out of position and at a disadvantage in the hand.