Outside of AA and KK, I love AK. 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 am talking about the worst players that play virtually any hand, even if it doesn't hit. 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 third is to put him on the decision for all his chips. After all, AK is the best hand pre flop against anything but pocket pairs. Poker odds math suggests I am good against all other hands aside from KK and AA. Once there, I just hope that the AK holds up. 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. I should say also, this is a widely used tactic,. 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.
Since I may not have enough profiling on this player, I amy just go with the second option until I do. Profiling your antagonist is clearly important. After several years of playing AK, those are my best ideas for playing the hand.