Yep, still in the old mail bag. Email question yesterday, that we've probably covered before, but since the question was asked, I'll answer:
Poker question. Is there ever a time in a tournament, pre-flop, where it is a good decision to throw away A-K?
1. Early in a tournament, if I raise, and get a monster raise back, I'd throw it away.
2. Late in the tournament, on the bubble, I'm the chip leader and #2 moves all in, I'd throw it away.
3. Most any other time it would cost me all my chips to see the flop, I'd throw it away, if I have a big stack.
In fact, A-K is the most poorly played hand in all of poker. It is AT BEST 50-50....and AT WORST...you're up against K-K or A-A and crushed.
The easiest way to look at it is this: A-K doesn't beat a pair of 2's.
So he followed up with an actual description of the action:
I was chip leader (about 75k) with 6 left (payout to 5). Under the gun (Brian Rauth) leads out with a 12k bet (about half of his chips). I look down to A-K off suit. I figure I have one of two options, fold or put him all in. I considered calling (which wouldn't tell me anything about his hand) but if I'm going to put that many chips out there I might as well try to knock him off the hand or out of the tournament. I figure if it hits, great, if not I've just doubled him up and brought everyone closer to me. Since I was in a pretty good position and the pot odds didn't dictate the call, I folded as did the rest and all he got were the blinds (1500 total). Now, more than likely he had a mid-pair or A-rag but why go fishing even with a pretty good starting hand?
I think you properly thought it through and made a quality decision. Especially given that your second thought was to put him all in (and he would have called if he already committed half his chips). Your last thought was calling, and in fact, wasn't really a thought at all.
I believe you did the right thing.
If things had been reverse, then the play would have been different.
If you are first to act, and you raise with A-K, then he pushes back, shoving all in is the right move. But seeing as you had NOTHING committed, and no reason to risk your chip lead on at best a 50/50 proposition....
Lets say he had A-3. I'll take you to a hand at the Moose Lodge from last month. I was semi-short stacked and made a move for half my chips with A-3. Guy next to me shoves all for about 80% of my stack. But remember, I'm already half in. So I call, even though I know I've been caught in a steal attempt.
He turns over A-J. I'm dominated.
Flop....K-8-3. Turn...3. I double up and move on to the final table.
Granted, he had A-J...but he failed to consider the fact that I had pot committed myself with my raise. In fact, I should have just shoved it all to begin with. So he got into a pot with someone who he no idea what I was holding....and put himself out of the game.
Play that differently: I raise, he flat calls with A-J. Flop comes K-8-3, he misses everything, but shoves all in anyway. I fold because of the King. Or....flop comes K-8-3, I shove all in with the 3, and he folds hitting nothing. Either way, we're both still alive.
Here are some past blogs where we discussed A-K, and the pitfalls of too much confidence in them: