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Fortune Cookie Advice, and an in Depth Look at Big Slick

Fuck the Chinese fortune cookie industry. Last night I went to Hop Kee, my parents’ favorite restaurant in Chinatown. The food was decent, but the fortune cookie is what really stuck with me. It stated, “You will be showered with good luck.” My immediate thought was to play some poker. I finally got to it this morning.

I was doing very well in the .05/.10 limit tables. My GoldenPalace bankroll came back from the brink (1.50) to over $11. Then I played in a $6 Omaha tournament and came up short. And now, the .05/.10 tables have dealt me a blow as well. I have, in my estimation, found the reason: playing too many hands. Unfortunately, my fortune cookie didn’t say, “Patience is a virtue,” or “Good things come to those who wait.” I could’ve used some of that advice instead. In the end, I was reminded of the need to play tighter online, which is a decent lesson for the $2-3 I lost.

But now, I turn your attention to something else. I received big slick (A K, for non-poker savy readers) 4-5 times during my most recent session. It did not pay off once. I started thinking about how tricky AK can be. In one case, I even hit the A and K, for two pair, but on the river, someone made the straight. I personally felt I played the hand well, but bad luck is bound to happen.

Doyle Brunson in Super System 2 (and probably Super System 1, since 2 is basically a reprinting), stated that he would prefer to have AK than AA or KK. His theory, which I partially subscribe to, is that AK pays off better, because it is a drawing hand. AA or KK can be cracked. The are hard to improve and hard to fold. Overall, I think this is an accurate statement.

Please note that I am about to got into detail about a bunch of different possible AK scenarios. The stats I give are merely for the turn. So, if you are trying to figure out the chance of hitting your pair or draw on the turn and river, double my figures, as you will have 2 chances to get your pair/draw. Also, please realize that I am assuming that your opponent has and only has paired the board. If he hit a set, two pair, etc. then all rules are off. If he missed the flop and doesn’t have a pocket pair, you are ahead, so play differently as well. And, of course, there is no hard and fast rule. So, here we go:

Playing AK Post-Flop with No Draws
Now, as a word of advice for amateurs, when you have AK and neither hits and you have no draws, seriously consider folding. Many novice players, myself included (in the past mostly), think the AK is still good. But if some schmuck at the table paired his 2 5, then you lost to a 2 5, plain and simple. No amount of betting or calling will save your loss (usually).

Without any draw, there are only 6 cards that can give you an advantage over a bettor who has paired. That’s a mere 6 cards out of 47 [52 cards in a deck – 2 cards in your hand – 3 cards on the flop]. So your chance of hitting your A or K on the next card is 13%, roughly. If the bettor makes an extremely weak bet, you may call. But otherwise, this is foolhardy. Oh, and for the record, I called in this situation at least once today. Now that I did the math, I can see the error in my ways.

Playing AK Post-Flop with a Draw
If you’ve hit a draw, you may want to call a post-flop bet, because, even if the bettor paired, there are a lot of cards that can assist you. If you end up with an inside straight draw (flop a QTX), then you have 10 cards to beat a simple pair (3 As, 3 Ks, 4 Js), which makes it a 21% chance you hit your cards on the turn.

If you have a flush draw, then you are in even better shape. You have 14 cards (3 As, 2 Ks, 9 flush cards), about a 30% chance to hit your pair or flush on the turn.

With a straight and flush draw (for example, you hold AK of hearts, and flop is Qh Td 3h, you have 18 cards that will help you (3 As, 3Ks, 4Js, and 8 flush cards [actually 9, but we already counted the J of hearts]), for a 38% chance. A straight flush draw works the same way. If you are willing to go to the river, you now have almost an 80% chance to hit your pair, straight or flush. Not bad odds when facing someone with top pair who thinks they are in great shape.

So, overall, AK is a tricky hand. When it doesn’t hit, don’t overcommit yourself. When it does hit, figure out how far you are willing to go with the hand; are you willing to take it to the river if you miss on the turn? And then, good luck.

posted by Jordan @ 4:19 PM,

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