First up, I want to clarify that the focus of this discussion is not on the correct strategy for playing AK, even though I want to briefly talk about some standard situations in which to play it. Really, what I've been thinking about lately is how weaker players intuitively try to solve the problem of how to play it preflop, and why they have that mindset.

I know we usually talk about online play but my thought about this topic has come from two live-play experiences, which I will describe first.

During a casual home-game tournament (live), I saw a player overlimp with AKo when the tournament was in its late stage (most players had between 10bb-20bb), then fold when someone in the blinds shoved. After the hand, he went on a tirade about how it would be stupid to call with AKo "because you have to hit with it". I didn't make the mistake of getting into an involved argument with him, but what surprised me is that beyond that particular hand, I've actually seen him make some good hand reads, correctly putting me on the right ranges based on my flop and turn actions, and outplaying me on rivers. So his pre-flop strategy perhaps has a huge leak, whereas post-flop he would do well.

In another, similar, live situation, we were playing with about 60bb mid-way through the evening 8-handed and a player in early position raised 5x. I woke up with AKs in the CO and decided to 3bet shove. There's a good argument for calling here and seeing a flop in position, but I wanted to isolate the original raiser believing he was on a range of 99+,AQo+ or maybe even as wide as AJs+. I figured that if he was making that move with a wider range than I had predicted then I'd have some fold equity, and also if I called, the calling stations at the table would probably come along as well, and I didn't want to the pot to play four ways... looking back at it, calling in position would certainly have been safe. However I didn't particularly like the idea of missing the flop and then losing to Ax bluffing me off the best hand. It turned out he snap called with KK and I spiked an A to suck out. Another player at the table criticized my play as 'stupid' because I just have 'two high cards' and shouldn't overshove. I actually agree my play might have been stupid, if the original raiser's range was tighter than I thought (the range was based on a lot of live history I have against him). But I don't agree that the play was stupid just because AKs is only 'two high cards'. I'm only dominated by AA/KK and have blockers for both of those hands. Looking it up on equilab I'm 53.85% against JJ+, AJs+, AQo+, which is pretty tight, and considering the dead money in the pot, it's certainly not a terrible shove in my opinion. I was playing in a zero-rake environment.

Moving on. It made me think quite a lot about how players perhaps overvalue pocket pairs, and undervalue non-pairs. I think this contributes to the habit of open-limping hands like A8o, or playing AK/AQ passively when they're in the blinds and are given re-steal/squeeze opportunities. It also makes me wonder if I should be playing hands like TT/JJ a bit more aggressively than normal against these kinds of players, with the knowledge that they would prefer to flat a 3bet (sometimes even out of position) with hands like AK/AQ.

The mindset of fish is an interesting topic in poker but I haven't made as much progress with it as I'd like, despite being very interested. Would love to hear everyone's opinions on it.