Thursday, April 10, 2008

Retiring the AK limp-raise

At all limits, you'll see people smooth calling an initial raise with AA and KK preflop and repopping 3-bettors. In aggressive games, it can be a strong play, especially when your opponents don't believe you.

I've been mixing in this play with AK at times to expand my range. Unfortunately, the times it has worked are outweighed by the times it hasn't.

Too often, I'll get in situations like this:

UTG raises to $35
Hero calls $35
Button raises to $150
UTG folds
Hero raises to $450
Button goes all-in
Hero calls.
Button shows AA
Hero shows AK

That's just a terrible outcome. The problem is that most players will only call this kind of limp-raise if they have the goods. It doesn't seem like lesser or equal hands (QQ and lower, AK, AQ) will call often enough to make this play profitable.

There are probably circumstances when I would still attempt this kind of preflop semibluff, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Most of the time I'd rather simply 3-bet immediately. That move will save me money when I get 4-bet or smooth-called and I'm far behind.

Sure I might get 4-bet bluffed sometimes, but I don't think it'll happen often enough to compensate for the buy-ins I'll save by folding, calling or 5-betting all-in when appropriate.

For the most part, I'm putting the AK smooth call-reraise in the appendix of my playbook. I don't need to do any math to determine that I've lost more money than I've made from this move.


$mokkee said...

this is gonna sound weak/tight but, i'm not a real big fan of AKo in a cash game. i play full ring not 6-max.

i'm not taking coin flips for my whole stack in a full ring game. i'd rather get in with a std raise or squeeze from the blinds with it. but, if i get called and whiff the flop i'm done with it. if i get reraised big pf, i dump it too.

i'm not gonna get a bunch of chips invested with the Ace-high or trying to chase a pair that may already be dominated.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Smokkee, you'll be surprised as to how often a simple 3 bet or a follow up cbet on the flop takes it down. The goal isn't to try to get all your money in preflop. It's to play them like aces or kings (except for the all in part).

Gnome, I agree that retiring that move is probably a good thing. However, experiments are always good and I truly think that's why you (and I) have improved a lot... I mean without trying to see what works and what doesn't, how will we know, right?

Klopzi said...

It doesn't seem like lesser or equal hands (QQ and lower, AK, AQ) will call often enough to make this play profitable.

I don't know if I'm a strong believer in getting value with my AK. I'm looking to take the pot down pre-flop or getting it all-in pre-flop (though latter case does not apply when playing deep-stack NL).

Anytime you can get someone with a pocket pair to lay down their hand to your large pre-flop re-raise or push, they're making a big mistake and that's a good outcome for you, isn't it?

I still don't understand why so many cash game players don't like AK. It's such a huge money maker for me: only AA/KK make me more money.

My two cents, for what it's worth...

Gnome said...

To be clear klopzi, I love playing AK aggressively, especially preflop. There's no doubt that it's a nice moneymaker when played correctly. Even in a coinflip situation, there's often enough money in the pot already to make pushing AK profitable in the long run, especially if you have any fold equity.
My point of this post is that I'm going to play AK more straight-up rather than trapping myself with this kind of tricky play.

spritpot said...

Here's a question: I play NL200, so I don't know if it would be different from the higher limits, but what is a loose-aggro player's (say 20/12) range when they flat call on the button an open raise from the CO, and then 4b a squeeze from the blinds after the original raiser folds? Sorry if that sounds complicated, but here's the kind of HH I'm talking about:

CO raises to 3 bb
button calls
sb raises to 14bb
CO folds
button raises to 50bb

Is that really gonna be AK or better a lot of the time? Wouldn't most aggro players re-raise preflop there? This happened to me yesterday and I was really tempted to put some more money in with AQ, because I thought he was just putting me on a steal. I ended up folding but...I was wondering if you guys have a sense of what hands that player shows up with most of the time.


Gnome said...

The button's flat call-reraise in your example seems strong, although suspicious. I envision something like JJ, AA or AK in this situation. I don't think it's worth putting your stack in with AQ to find out.

spritpot said...

Yea, that's what I figured too, so I pitched it. How about if the raise to 50bb from the button were his entire stack, so calling off the 36bb ends the betting? If you say call, how large would the shove have to be before you fold?

Gnome said...

If the button's entire stack were 50 BB, that widens his range considerably. Maybe something like 88+, AT+. In that case, it becomes a close call getting 2:1 pot odds (67:34). It really depends on the button's estimated range.
I guess you would be forced to call, according to PokerStove:

Hand 0: 49.888% 43.69% 06.20% 242364660 34404678.00 { AQs }
Hand 1: 50.112% 43.91% 06.20% 243612480 34404678.00 { 88+, ATs+, ATo+ }