Everyone who plays Texas Holdem knows that Ace-King is one of the very best starting hands. But, it is just that, a starting hand. It's only 2 cards of a 7-card equation. In almost every situation, you want to come out firing with AK as your hole cards. (The exception would be when faced with a big raise from an early position bettor.) When the flop comes, you need to reassess your hand and think things through before you just assume your odds are best.
Like many other situations in Texas Holdem, knowing your opponents will help you gauge your situation when you hold AK and see a flop like 9-8-2. Since you bet preflop and were called, you assumed your opponent is also holding good cards and the flop may have missed them as badly as it missed you. Your assumption will often times be correct, but they could be holding a pocket pair and be leading in the hand, or worse yet have pocket 9s, 8s, or 2s. Also, do not forget that many poor players would not know good cards if they beat over them and could have called with Ax and paired the board.
If your opponent checks, you could check and see a free card or make a bet and try to pick the pot up right there. If they bet, you could raise to see if they are for real or fold. What you want to avoid is simply calling your opponent's bet to see what the turn brings. If any card other than and Ace or King hits, you will not know any more information than you did after the flop. Let's say the turn brings a 4 and your opponent bets again, what do you do? To call a bet on the flop you had to think your hand was the best, so you must sure think it still is. So, you call a bet on the turn and one more on the river to find out that your opponent was holding 10-8 and only had second pair after the flop. At that point, it dawns on you that a raise after the flop could have won the pot right then. Instead, you called and lost 3 more bets in the hopes of catching a miracle card or that your Ace high would hold up. If you would have raised on the flop and been called or reraised it would have only cost you 2 bets to learn more about the strength of your opponents hand.
Ace-King is a beautiful thing to see in your hole cards. Just be sure you play them wisely and they can bring you great happiness at the poker table.
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