Unorthodox AK hands from Poker Night in America Part 1

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 ...

Posted Aug 17, 2015


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

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

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 turn AK into a bluff after bluff catching if you think there is a chance your opponent made a pair”

About twenty minutes into the second day of shooting I picked up my first playable hand, A K, on the button. Matt Glantz, with a $5k stack opened to $200 at $25-$50, Joe Mckeehen called with about $13k and Shaun Deeb called in the cutoff covering everyone. I started the hand with $10k and decided to three-bet small—only to $800---wanting Glantz to put in his stack of 50bbs. Unfortunately he folded, as did Mckeehen but Deeb called. Shaun and I have some recent history together when he knocked me out of the $10K PLHE tourney at the WSOP this year with AA vs KK preflop, a tourney he went on to win. I had never played with him before in cash but I am pretty sure he knew that this game was on the larger side for me and I knew it was on the smaller side for him.

With the pot being $2075, the flop came out T 8 5 and surprisingly he led into me for $700. This is very unorthodox as you almost always see the OOP player in a three-bet pot check to the raiser. But I knew that Deeb did not play by any type of rote playbook. I also thought it would have been way too exploitable to just fold the flop as I still could have had the best hand against draws and some bluffs so I called. The turn brought out the J and Deeb once again fired, this time for $1750 into $3475. The turn definitely was not the best card for me even though I picked up a gutshot broadway draw as the J could have easily paired him with a hand like QJ, J9 or J X. The decision was pretty close but I was getting 3-1 so I decided to call again, feeling that I may have the best hand still or was drawing with the proper equity. The river came a total blank, a 4 and Deeb took a long time and finally checked.

This is where I had a decision to make. All along I thought that there was a decent chance that I may have had the best hand with AK and the 4 really did not change anything. There was the small possibility that he had a hand like A4 that rivered a pair but I thought that he either had turned a J, had a hand like T X or had missed everything. The decision I had to make was whether or not AK had enough showdown value to check back or should I turn to bet to get him off of a pair.

Against good completion that plays with me a lot at the Commerce if I called a lead, then called the turn and bet on the river when checked to in this situation I would very rarely be bluffing. My most probably holdings would be overpairs but I was not sure if Deeb knew that. This was a game flow issue and early on in this session I just got the feeling that Deeb might call me down with a pair putting me on busted spades. I finally decided to check my hand back after much deliberation and Deeb sheepishly turned over 42, for absolutely nothing that rivered a pair. I am still not certain whether or not Deeb would have called a bet at the end with his pair of fours but it does go to show you that there are times that you can turn AK, as the nut no pair, into a bluff at the end when you were holding on thinking that it was the best hand.

Log in or register to join the discussion.