I’ve come to view Big-Slick with a strangely affectionate eye. For the longest time, it was far and away my least favorite hand. It always seemed to cost more money than it ever made. But, ultimately, good players develop the right strategy for the hand and limit its frustration while maximizing its profit. It’s a great hand to have, of course, when your opponent has Ace-Ten. That said, my affection for the hand has nothing to do with my own strategic habits. I’ve come to love the hand without ever getting dealt the actual cards. I prefer to rely on the stupidity of my table brethren. Let me explain.
Ace-King is one of the premier starting hands in hold’em. But it’s a drawing hand. Its value comes from actually connecting with the board, always having “top-top,” and being impossibly out-kicked. Good players understand this. Bad players don’t get it at all. This is the most wonderfully gorgeous realization I’ve ever personally articulated. It’s pure ecstasy, watching your opponent completely botch his play with Ace-King. So, while the savvy player maneuvers carefully with Big-Slick, maximizing his big hands and chucking the airballs, confused novices can’t determine its value with any intelligence whatsoever. Their unintelligible motto seems to be, “Ace-King is always a monster. See you at the river.”
Big-Slick misplays are particularly rampant in limit hold’em games. The betting is capped and small, and determining the right time to release a clear loser is more difficult than at a no-limit hold’em table. Allow me to recreate a hand that occurs a hundred times a day at every limit hold’em game: Goofy McGee raises UTG with AK and gets called in five spots. The flop is 567, and he, for some completely unjustifiable reason, gets in for four flops bets. For any reasonable player, it’s time to immediately abandon ship. Put no more money into this pot! Goofy McGee, however, sees things differently. He has Ace-King, after all! ”Bet! What, I was raised four times? Sure, call! I have Ace-King!” His hand is now clearly total garbage, but he can’t seem to get himself to fold. It happens constantly: his opponents give every indication that they can beat his monstrous ace-high, but the hand just looks so damn pretty, and he could still hit an Ace or a King or something… He’ll sometimes even call your river bet, having hit nothing at all. There’s little in this life more satisfying than taking a trip to value-town with pocket threes on the guy who refuses to release his failed potential of a hand.
It’s fine when I get Ace-King myself. I can handle it. But I think I’d prefer to see my dummy opponents get the hand. There’s nothing sweeter than taking chips off players who hold nothing more than broken dreams of Ace-King glory. I don’t ever need to get dealt the cards to collect some of that juicy Ace-King money!
TWITTER: JayMindPokerJacob "Jaymind" Westlin is a semi-professional limit hold'em player with a strong, sarcastic wit. Jaymind also frequently contributes to Minnesota Poker Magazine's monthly publication. Email Jaymind at email@example.com