Saturday, October 20, 2007

Big Slick Not So Big...

Here are my thoughts on playing big slick on online poker...

I play on (play money version). I enjoy the on-line poker tournaments on that site. One hand that can be surpsingly difficult to play is big slick.

Many people love to raise big with big slick or go all in with it, but it's really not as great of hand as many would believe. Big slick will lose slightly more than half of the time to pocket sixes. If you are short-stacked and you have to go all in, you're better off with a pocket pair assuming that one other person calls.

Here's the classic problem with big slick. You pretty much have to raise pre-flop so that you don't end up losing to a junk hand. However, more than half the time, you won't actually pair your hand, so what do you do then?

Here's the scenario:

You put a 200 chip raise (pokerstar tourney) preflop. The flop is jack, four, eight (rainbow). You now have no chance of a straight or a flush. You now have six outs (three kings and three aces) to make a better hand. This gives you a (using the rule of 4/2) 24% chance of making a better hand. Basically, your choices now are to try to make a continuation bet to try to buy the pot, check and hope to make a hand, or fold to someone else's raise.

The problem occurs when someone calls you or re-raises you--following your continuation bet. If they just call and the turn comes and you still have nothing but high card ace with a king kicker, then what? Now you only have a 12% chance of pairing one of your cards. You can then try another continuation bet, making a larger one than the previous one, and sometimes the other people will just fold. But when it comes to on-line poker, people will often call with almost any kind of draw or any hand. Either way, I agree with one of Gus Hansen's tips when it comes to bluffing. In terms of bluffing, it's much better to try to make a bluff when there is only one other person in the hand. Trying to bluff two or three other players is not a very smart move usually, though sometimes you will get lucky.

I can't count how many times I've tried to make a continuation bluff on the turn and had someone either call or re-raise. In my opinion, trying to buy the pot with ace king is often a losing venture when you have nothing at the turn--at least with on-line poker and play money. What's especially problematic is when you raise pre-flop and at least one of the other players either has a pocket pair or they flop top pair or better. The last thing in the world you want is to try to bluff someone who flopped a set.

Overall, I find playing ace king depends on the circumstances in the tournament. If it is early in the tournament, I will make a small pre-flop raise, follow with a continuation bet if I don't flop anything, then check at the turn. If I find that I get a lot of resistance in terms of someone else re-raising me after my bet post-flop, or they bet enough at the turn, I will usually cut my loses and fold. With on-line poker, people will call a big raise with four suited cards on the table even if they don't have one of that suit. You would think that you could make a bet representing a flush in that case and have the other person fold if they do not have it, but don't expect people to make reasonable decisions on-line.

Later in the tournament, when the blinds are big, Ace King is a much better hand. Usually, people play far less hands when the blinds are larger. As well, you can often make a decent raise pre-flop just to steal the blind now.

Here is a reply of Sammy Fahra playing ace king vs a pocket pair from Phil Helmeth. Sammy tries a continuation bet after the flop, and again after the turn, then Phil makes a nice play and goes all in which forces Sammy to fold.

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