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I was playing live limit Texas Hold'em against 6 other people (friends gathering). One opponent was pretty good, other 5 were bad players.

I was the dealer and had AK. The good opponent was at the UTG position, he folded. All others before me limped.

I raised to kick as many opponents out as I can (is this a correct move?). Unfortunately, all the remaining opponents were like oh this should be fun, let me call. Thus, 6 of us saw the 249 flop. Then we all checked until the river (should I have done something different here?). A and K never appeared at the board (J + 3 did). After the river someone raised, two people called. At this point I was sure someone had a pair and folded.

The guy who won had a pair 44, other had a lower pair of 33, the third didn't have a pair at all.

What frustrated me in this situation is that I had a good pre-flop hand and also seemed to know more about the game than my opponents (although I am a beginner too). Yet, there seemed to be no chance for me to win.

So my question: even if a strong hand like AK in such situation can't win against poor players, then what's a good strategy to play against them?

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  • Several missing information: was your AK suited or not? How much did you raise preflop? Were there two (or even three) suited cards on the flop?
    – J.-E. Pin
    Jun 10 at 9:37
  • @J.-E. Pin AKo, raised 5bb (we were playing with the home-made rules, you could raise up to 5bb) , flop was a rainbow. Jun 10 at 10:53
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AK is a very strong hand preflop, but postflop if you haven't hit any A or K, or straight or flush draws, then you just have A high. You checked your hand against 5 other players and in this situation I think you did the right thing.

And why? Because you are playing a multiway pot against many weak players, and weak players tend to call a lot of hands like bottom pair, all sorts of draws. With such a big multiway pot, it's almost certain that at least one player has hit something. Also, bluffing against weak players often don't work since they will call with any weak hand.

So what's a good strategy in this case? In short, don't bluff. And wait for a situation where you have a strong hand and then value bet the flop, turn and river. Be patient though! And when you've folded, examine your opponents, their actions and the cards they show at showdown to learn about their actions.

One more comment.. Just because the fact you know more about the game than your opponents, doesn't mean you should've won this hand. Being a good poker player means you have to adjust according to your opponents. And don't be afraid to fold your good or bad hands. Poker is a game of skill but there's also a big 'luck' factor of course which causes the most awful player to win from a good player by getting some miracle card on the river.

GL!

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  • Should I play more hands at pre-flop stage against such ppl (likely folding after the flop) or is it better to play only good hands at the pre-flop stage? Jun 4 at 10:25
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    You can definitely play more hands but don't go too crazy. Still fold the trash hands. Against calling stations your JT is still good on a flop of AT8 most of the time. And if one of these guys raise you, almost 100% of the time they have the (near) nuts so you need to have a really strong hand to continue.
    – Jasper
    Jun 4 at 10:55
  • got it, will try this, thx Jun 4 at 10:57
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Your play was correct. People calling your raise is not bad news. Of course it decreases the chance that you win the pot but it also increases your reward when you hit.

We need to accept the fact that poker is a game where correct play is often not rewarded in the short term, so you shouldn't question your strategy just becausea hand didn't go your way.

In other words, you lost 6 blinds after the 249 flop, but how many would you have won in QJT, AK3, AAT and so on?

After the flop, your decisions are correct too. There's no reason to bluff when you have little equity in a hand with so many players, and you should definitely fold to their bet

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With 20/20 hind site checking the flop was what you should of done. However without the hind site your play may not have been the best ( I can't say for sure since it is almost impossible to second guess a player on the scene, since I could not see what you saw). Considering your position, that you raised preflop and the quality of your hand I think a follow up bet was called for.

With a follow up bet many good things happen for the player with AK, you thin out the field leaving dead money in the pot which is always a good thing. Most players will lay down gut shot straights, and some will laydown small pairs (like 3's and 4's(Although with your particular board and loose players it is not as likely they will laydown)) and almost all players will lay down hopeless hands that have no chance outside of making a pair, to win a pot, you don't want to give them that chance to make a pair. You also maintain control of the pot which has a lot of benefits, like being able to set up a good bluff or driving out hands that do not beat you yet. It also gives you a better handle on the holdings of the other players, giving you vital information about how you should proceed. Doing a follow up bet with AK on the flop, even when you hit blanks, is not a bluff, it is more akin to a semi bluff, where you may take down the pot right there, or you may make a hand that takes the pot at showdown.

I raised to kick as many opponents out as I can (is this a correct move?)

One should really not care how many people call when AK is held. The hand plays well short handed and is more profitable with more players seeing a flop, although more subject to a higher SD. It really depends on how your comfortable playing the hand. For example you might be more comfortable with fewer players in a hand or like to go after the big pots with a little more risk.

So what's a good strategy in this case? In short, don't bluff.

There is no default best strategy here. It all depends on what seems to be going on with the other players. There are definitely times when you should just take the free card on the turn, other times you should follow up with a bet. You can really only make a good educated decision about what to do on the day.

So my question: even if a strong hand like AK in such situation can't win against poor players, then what's a good strategy to play against them?

The 2nd best strategy is to raise preflop and follow up with a bet on the flop. The best strategy is to raise pre flop, then take in all the information you can to determine what to do on the flop. You had a good handle on the players that were in the hand. It is not impossible that a follow up bet would of taken the little pairs off the hand. However if you had no reason to believe nobody had a pocket pair, a bet was called for, if you had some good reason to believe they had pairs and you did not want to risk the price (if indeed they could be bought) of getting them to laydown, your play was great.

Your contention that AK "can't win against poor players" is very much an incorrect conclusion. AK plays much better against weak players who incorrectly play their hands then against strong players who may be able to lay down loosing hands.

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