I really like playing Ace King, even though it`s not the best preflop hand. Playing the small stacks where the weakest of weak players reside I.e. those who play anything aggressively pre-flop, take the joy of landing AK. I mean donks who are in every hand, and I mean every hand betting, raising, or re-raising whatever he has even air. They can screw you too, becuase they have a good chance of hitting the flop better than your Ace King.
I’ve made three typical plays to deal with these players. You could play it with a raise pre-flop, then trap then if the board is good for you. If my poker software says I am up against a maniac, I feel tend to bluff more even with air if he senses weakness in your hand. It’s the perfect way to trap him especially if you flop something big like a KK or AA, or get flush or a straight draw.
The second is I play normally as I would pre-flop so that I can just let it go if I don’t hit the flop and reduce the risk of a major suck out.
The other option of course is to make him decide a play for his whole stack. Needless to say, if they don`t have a pocket pair, you are ahead with AK. Poker odds math suggests I am good against all other hands aside from KK and AA. Sometimes you just have to let Ace King do its job, hopefully. I am reasonably confident it's not pocket aces or kings, since I am already holding part of that.
Each one of these strategies depend on the type of maniac I’m facing, and if there is poker tournament strategy involved. If he’s a super donk and a known idiot who will call and raise any hand just to get to the flop, I do number three. Which is a very popular strategy indeed. And to great success too.
If he’s aggressive but is known to play a good hand or two, and shows a penchant for waiting for the flop, I go with number one. In the long run, you should have the higher chances of winning as you have top hand other than AA and KK, and have as much a chance of flopping flush or straight, and have an edge of winning top card.
If I don’t have enough information yet on said donk, I go with number two until I know more about him at least. So as always, the key is to know your opponent. After several years of playing AK, those are my best ideas for playing the hand.