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Many card rooms offer a bonus for Aces-Cracked. Check to see if it’s available at your favorite casino; and during what hours of the day. If you are fortunate to have been dealt two Aces in the hole – pocket Aces – and get beat by another player, you may be the winner of a bonus of $100 in chips.

Wow! That is great, especially in low-limit games where the pots usually are much smaller than $100. To gain this bonus, there are two additional requisites: There must be at least $20 in chips in the pot; and the hand must go to the showdown.

So, today, let us explore Aces-cracked; and why I so love it when it is in play.

Pocket Aces are rare

How often do you expect to be dealt two Aces in the hole? On the average, over the long run, you should be dealt A-A just one out of 221 hands. That’s a statistical fact; rare, but it does happen. On average, at a full table of nine players, someone should get pocket Aces once out of every 25 hands dealt. With 30-35 hands typically dealt per hour, a player at your table should have A-A in the hole every 40-50 minutes of play. Hopefully, that could be you.

I once saw a player “earn” the Aces-cracked bonus twice during the hour it was in play. Now, that is a very long shot; but, hey, why not. It could happen to you.

How best to play it

Here’s a good example: In a $4-$8 limit hold’em game, you have A-A in the hole. Glance at your wristwatch or at the big clock on the casino wall to make sure the Aces-Cracked bonus is in play. To err would be costly.

Avoid calling attention to yourself. Hopefully, none of your opponents noticed as you checked the time; that would be a tell. Otherwise, they might very well guess you have pocket Aces.

Having confirmed the time is right, then, say to yourself: “Keep them in the pot.” The more opponents staying in the hand, the more likely one will improve his starting hand sufficiently to beat (“crack”) your pocket Aces – so you win the big bonus. Furthermore, since you are hoping your pocket Aces will be beat, avoid putting unnecessary money into the pot. The less you invest, the better. Just call all bets – no raises. Don’t try to force any opponents to muck their cards.

Now, pause a moment to confirm your strategy: It does take some self-discipline to avoid the natural instinct to raise when you look down at A-A in the hole. If you are first to declare after the flop, just check – calmly. Do not initiate the betting; call all bets; do not raise; give no tells; and hope someone makes a hand better than A-A.

Of course, if the pot appears to be short of the $20 minimum required at the showdown, you might have to bet – or even raise – to add some chips to the small pot. (This is rarely the case.)

Of course, everyone wants to get the Aces-Cracked bonus.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Email: [email protected]

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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