Don’t over value big slick!

Ace, King and chips

The term “big slick” was an American term used to describe the hand of A-K in Texas Hold’em either played in a limit, pot limit or no limit format. The origins of the term are hard to pin down but its meaning is that the hand of A-K has more latent power than other hands except hands like A-A and K-K. In fact, in terms of pure hot and cold equity, A-K is almost on a par with Q-Q. However, in tournaments, A-K has led to the demise of more players than possibly any other hand.

So much so that there is another term for it which is “walking back to Houston”. So the hand of A-K needs to be handled with care and this is especially the case in deep stack cash games or even cash games with effective stacks of say 100bb. In fact I can think of many instances in cash games where the hand of A-K is overplayed by even experienced cash game players. Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. You are playing in a very tight full ring game online at NL100 when an early position player with 100bb raises to 3.5bb.

To their immediate left another player with an effective stack of 100bb cold calls the raise and it then gets folded around to you in the cut off seat with the Ac-Kc. I know many players here that would automatically 3/bet the hand but that is a big error against tight players. An early position raiser is going to have something in the region of a 7% range and the caller will have something along the lines of around 12%. Your hot and cold equity against these two ranges is nowhere near as great as you think.

Quite often you will be against the same A-K hand or possibly buried under a premium pair or a coin flip against hands like Q-Q or J-J. Even if you dominate your opponents then you are still only a one in three chance of making top pair on the flop so you may still have to fold to a c-bet and further aggression even if your opponent has also missed. I would definitely only call this raise and I would not three bet. The call now places 12bb into the pot with players to your left still to act.

If one of these players re-raises then you may be glad that you only called and didn’t 3/bet. There are many times in poker where A-K whether suited or not is simply not a strong hand. In cash games then you often need to play hands flexibly when stacks are 70bb or more. In fact a solid online cash game player will be playing with at least a 100bb stack anyway and so will be playing even deeper than this. The moral of this particular story though is clear and this is not to over value A-K even if some players do affectionately call it “big slick”.