I'm a freelance writer and serious lower stakes poker player. I'm fascinated by poker's complex strategy as well as the psychology involved in this game of short-term luck and long-term certainties. Contact: onlinepokerdiary (at) gmail (dot) com

Hand Result + Commentary

Hey everyone, I didn't list the results for the hand for a while because I was curious if I would hear any more feedback and didn't want to bias the responses.

microstakes bankroll builder, thanks for your comment; I really enjoy the hand analysis over on your blog.

Anyway, let me preface my response by saying that the handling of AK is one of the biggest issues for developing NL players and can significantly affect their results. I am by no means perfect, but in cash games I normally play carefully and don't end up stacking off unimproved to regulars or anything like that. This particular situation in the SnG, though, did have me a bit confused. Also keep in mind that I'm a limit player first and foremost.

On to the hand. My preflop call was a tough decision, but I think there's a little more to it than just "always a monster." You'll notice I also said most of these unknowns are very unpredictable and I thought his range could include JJ and even AK or maybe AQ.

Now I may be wrong, but I was genuinely unsure as to what to assume as a default range here. Other commenters noted suspicious bet amounts and a likely wider range than AA and KK.

Either way, the pot is 650 and I need to call 325 so I'm getting 2:1 odds.

  equity     win     tie           pots won     pots tied   
Hand 0:     30.858%      30.48%     00.38%            6263357         77250.00   { AcKh }
Hand 1:     69.142%      68.77%     00.38%           14129791         77250.00   { QQ+ }

If he has just AA, KK or QQ,  then yeah, I have 30% equity. Not in good shape.

At game speed, I thought that including AQ and JJ in his range would make it an almost even money proposition. My mental calculations were off, as it's only 42% equity now that I've run some Stoves.

But if we widen the range even more to include TT, then:

equity     win     tie           pots won     pots tied   
Hand 0:     49.175%      38.86%     10.32%           29939770       7951130.50   { AcKh }
Hand 1:     50.825%      40.51%     10.32%           31211649       7951130.50   { TT+, AQs+, AQo+ }

Just about a flip. I'm not sure if this is reasonable to make it this wide, though. I guess it's just probably better to fold unless I have seen villain do something crazy. At this point, he pissed away a decent amount of chips and didn't show down, but I only have 4 hands with him.

The one clear thing about this hand is that the flop decision is negligible; however, I never meant that to be the focus of the analysis. I'll try to come up with hands with more post flop decisions in the future.

Anyway, thanks everyone for the discussion. Results are given as a comment.


  1. He had AA...Of course...Busted out of the tournament.

    Now that I look over my original post, I may have given that away to any careful readers by saying

    "I've busted out 9th and 8th place a few times on situations that are too marginal to defend" right before introducing the hand. Oh well.

  2. the rule I follow is that I need an extraordinary reason to NOT call if I'm getting 2:1 odds. Holding AK and getting 2:1 is nearly automatic.

    You say if he has only QQ+, then you're "not in good shape", but in truth, you're 30% is nearly enough to justify the call getting 2:1. If you add JJ, you're at 36%, and therefore correct to call with AK.

  3. Yeah, obviously >33% equity means a profitable call. I meant to say that in this situation he will probably be shoving most of the time on the flop, so it's not just this preflop call but for all my chips.

    I'd have to let it go if I don't improve the flop, which is what probably prompted others to say it's a 5-bet shove or fold.

  4. I have to say that a PF limp / 3bet is a HUGE spot for AA (and less so KK). AK is a snap fold in your situation - if you're determined to call on the flop. I believe that AK is a fold PF in that spot... without any reads, and at that level, a player generally is not thinking about what you have, nor what you think of his cards. If he were, he'd be very scared of the King high flop because a flat of the limp / raise usually means the original raiser has JJ, QQ, KK - those premium pairs that are not able to push all in to the limp / raise, but are so unsure whether they're being pushed around by an wild AK or an AA.

    Sorry I didn't comment earlier; I forgot about it because I was in Turkey at the time, but AK in that spot is a PF fold. Nitty, yes, but you survive those early rounds. And if he's playing around in that spot, he's going to get caught.