A few weeks ago I embarked on an east coast poker trip to the Turning Stone Casino in upstate NY to play on Poker Night in America’s $25-$50NL cash game. During this trip I got into two very interesting spots with AK. The episode will come out on television sometime in 2016 but the full two-day live stream is up on Poker Night in America’s YouTube channel. I will be reviewing every hand that I played on the show in a six part video series titled “Turning Stone” over on CrushLivePoker.com
If you have read my articles here before you know that my normal cash game is the $5-10 $1500 cap at the Commerce Casino so playing a $25-$50NL game was on the larger side for me. If tradition held true most of the hands in the game would be held with a straddle making it $25-$50-$100. Not only is the game big but the players usually only buy in for at maximum $10k so the effective stacks are a little more shallow than I am used to. Some guys, especially those well versed in limit, only buy in for $5k, making the game mostly preflop.
“You can value bet AK as the nut no pair”
Later on in Day 2 I got into another very unusual spot with AK, strange enough that it left some very experienced players scratching their head when they watched it on the live stream. I had a fairly losing image at that point in the day as I was down about $7k and picked up A♣ K♣ in the cutoff. I raised to $175 with about a $9k stack and the button, a middle aged derivatives trader named Richard Anthony three bet me to $400. Everyone folded and I decided to just call partly for deception partly for the faith in my post flop ability. The board came out 8♠ 4♠ 4♥ exactly the type of board that I have talked about in previous articles where you have to continue on if you play AK slow. I checked, Anthony bet $400 and I quickly called. The turn was the 2♣ and the action quickly went check check. At this point I thought that my hand was good close to 100% of the time as I thought the button would bet again with an over pair. I was really rooting for a total blank ragged card to river so that I could make a thin value bet with AK to get called by a worse ace-hi. Unfortunately it was not the cleanest river as the 9♠ fell completing the front door spade draw. However I still decided to bet very tiny for value and led $300 into $1675. My small bet, however, was met with something I did not anticipate. Anthony thought for a bit and raised to $1200. This really surprised me, as I never expected to get raised but rather hero called. Anyway, I took some time with it, realized that the hand made very little sense unless my opponent rivered a flush and made the call with AK and was good.
Some people thought that I made a “blocker bet” at the end of the hand but my intention was to clearly value bet and get called by worse. I was a little taken back by the fact that my opponent raised me but now in retrospect the small sizing at the end obviously induced him to bluff.
The main point here is that you can certainly pick times to value bet AK no pair for value and get called by worse. The most common of these situations is flatting with AK preflop, calling a flop bet then betting the river after the turn is checked through on a wet board that bricks out.
Again, both of these situations will be analyzed on my training site, with real video from the hands over at CrushLivePoker.com.