How To Play Ace-King

Ace-king is a very strong hand in hold'em but only if you play it correctly. Here's how.

Ace-King is one of the most powerful hands in Texas Hold’em, but also one of the most overplayed. Players are drawn into playing “Big Slick” because it looks pretty. It is strong yet it is still only ace-high.

You won’t get dealt ace-king very often. Unsuited Big Slick finds its way to you once in every 110 hands, on average. Suited ace-king is even rarer. Expect to see it as your starting hand 330 hands. Discounting suits, you’ll see ace-king every 81 hands.

There are 16 ways to be dealt ace-king and you’re usually going to be in decent shape. Pocket aces are the only hand that crushes you. Offsuit ace-king only beats pocket aces approximately 6.8% of the time. Suited Big Slick fares better, but not by much. Run a hand like As-Ks into pocket aces and you’ll lose 87.8% of the time. Combining these figures reveals you only win with ace-king versus aces 8.2% of the time.

The hand performs better against pocket kings because you can always flop an ace. Ace-king only beats pocket kings 31.1% of the time, however, so don’t get too excited.

Part of its strength comes from facing any other hand. You’re a significant favorite against any other ace and are around 55/45 against QQ-22.

Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of Ace-King

Flopping a pair always ensures you have top pair top kicker, which isn’t a bad spot to be in. You can be confident of holding the best hand in this situation. This happens 29% of the time, which sounds a lot but also means you won’t flop a pair 71% of the time.

Missing the flop isn’t always disastrous because you have a continuation bet in your arsenal. It’s likely you’ve raised or three-bet preflop so you have momentum in the hand. Just make sure you choose your c-bet spots carefully. Flop texture and opponent type are crucial. You don’t want to fire a c-bet with ace-king against a calling station or on a draw-heavy flop.

Players get carried away when they miss the flop, seemingly forgetting they only have ace-high. So many players go broke or lose plenty of chips when they miss the flop because they keep firing bets on the turn and river with only ace-high.

Ace-King comes into its own in short stack territory, such as late in tournaments. You want to try to see all five community cards to release the hand’s full potential. This situation is perfect for that.

Raising all-in preflop guarantees you’ll see all five cards if you are called. The hand is stronger still when you three-bet all-in. The opponent making the initial raise usually has a pair or a strong ace and is crushed when they call.


We’ve ascertained ace-king is a very strong starting hand in Texas Hold’em. Simulations prove it is the fourth-strongest behind only aces, kings, and queens. It is easy to see why some people call ace-king Anna Kournikova. It is pretty to look at but doesn’t win as much as you think it should.

Its strength lies in the fact you are coin flipping against all pairs except aces and kings. You are crushed against those but running into them is relatively rare. You also smash other aces out of the park and are way ahead of all hands with kings in them. Playing ace-king with aggression is almost always the correct thing to do.

Consider ace-king to be a drawing hand and go from there. It’s strong when it connects with the board or when you see all five community cards. Missing the flop isn’t always a disaster, but remember you only have ace-high at this point.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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