Missing with A-K in no limit hold’em cash games

In online poker your profits do not always come from blasting your opponents out of the pot.
Raising with big cards and missing the flop is a common occurrence and you need to know how to handle these situations. When you raise with a hand like A-K in a no limit ring game then you are going to miss a large percentage of the flops. However if you raise with say A-K to 3.5bb and get one caller and the flop comes for example 8-3-2 rainbow then we need to ascertain how likely your opponent is to hit that board. Your opponents with average holdings will miss that board around 65% of the time and so your A-K figures to be the best hand. In this situation then a c- bet is called for and I would make it around $5.50 here into the $8.50 pot assuming that the caller has position on me.

C-bets are not always profitable

However the hand does suffer from one fatal drawback and this is because your opponents or your more sophisticated opponents may call or even raise because they suspect that you have missed also. If they call on this flop then the chances of them having a made hand escalate dramatically. So they could have A-8s or 77,66,55 or 44 for example. If the board came eight or lower on the turn then firing another barrel is problematical. However if my opponent does have a small pair then I would barrel all overcards and the higher the overcard the better.

If the turn comes say Qh then I barrel representing the overpair and hands like A-Q and K-Q as these fall into my range. I would also make the bet sizeable as well and another two thirds pot sized bet of around $13 is going to give my opponent a difficult decision. In fact I may even bet slightly more and make it $15 if I thought that the bet could induce a fold. When you get two callers then the hand is more of a problem because the chances that your opponents have a piece of the board even if the board is broken rise sharply. The chances that both of two opponents have missed falls to around 40%!

Scary boards mean trouble

That is a relatively low figure but look at how difficult it really is to make a c-bet when the flop is wet like with J-9-7 or 10-9-6 with two suits. Suddenly the A-K is nothing more than a check in my opinion and I am hoping here that the flop goes check-check-check and an ace or a king comes on the turn. But even in that instance then I am looking to play a small pot with such a vulnerable hand. On really dry boards then you can still c-bet profitably in many instances with A-K against two opponents and getting one opponent to call and the other one to fold has a similar result to only having one opponent and them calling. In this instance then you are still putting them on a weak made hand and looking to barrel overcards in later rounds to give them a difficult decision.