AK may be the most common bust out hand because it’s too strong to lay down in most situations, yet it doesn’t have a big edge against a random hand. I’ve gone out of tournaments more times with AK than any other hand. AK suited wins about 65% of the time against the top 20% of hands, but just slightly more often — 67% of the time — against a random hand. Against a wild, loose player who raises every hand, you’d actually prefer to have 88 or a higher pair.
Players sometimes make the mistake of trapping with AK when they don’t have a lot of chips, but AK is not a big enough favorite against a random hand to risk letting the big blind in for free — although this depends on your opponents and the chip stacks. In the Foxwoods episode this week, you see Howard Lederer making a great play with his AK early on against Ron Rose. Given his stack size, he knew that if he raised, he’d be committed to the pot if someone else re-raised. He also knew that the players left to act were very aggressive and likely to raise if he just called the blind. So, he decided to “limp” (just call) with his AK and re-raise if someone raised. If Howard had much less than he had, he probably would have just raised all-in.
If there’s already 2 or more raises in front of you, AK should usually be folded. How you should play against a single raise depends on your position. When I get to act after the raiser on the flop, I may just call. When I’m out of position with it I usually try to win the pot with a re-raise before the flop. But if I know that the raiser is very likely to call me, I may just call and see a flop before risking the rest of my chips