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In a standard 52-card deck, there are close to 2.6 million possible five-card hands you might be dealt.

The best hand – the most valuable – is a royal straight flush; only four are possible.

Somewhat more frequent, but still rare are full-houses: a bit over 3,700 out of 2,600,000 are possible. That’s 0.14 percent of all possible hands dealt.

So, yes, a full house is quite rare – but, it will happen to you.

Even a bigger longshot is having two full-houses in one hand, involving you and one other player.

How about three full-houses?

The other night, I was in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game with ½-kill at the Hustler Casino, and looked down at pocket Aces. That in itself is quite rare: on average, only one out of 221 hands dealt – less than 0.5 percent. It’s about an 80 percent favorite over each opponent. The best strategy is to try to thin the field to four or fewer opponents by raising before the flop. That’s what I did.

In a $4-$8 limit game with ½-kill, the limits effectively increase to $6-$12, so relatively big pots often occur. Even more so at this table because the texture of the game was loose-aggressive.

I was in a middle position. After my preflop raise, the Button re-raised. He was an aggressive player, often raising preflop and post-flop. I figured him for a big pair or a premium drawing hand. Five of us saw the flop: 3 of spades, 3 of hearts, and 10 of spades.

It was checked to me, so I made the $6 bet. Again the Button raised – no surprise. But I was stunned when the Big Blind re-raised; it was a check-raise. Of course, with my pocket Aces, I had to call.

The thought did occur to me that the Big Blind could have made trip treys on the flop; but, I dismissed that notion. He would never start with a trey in the hole. On the other hand, a set of tens was a definite possibility. I hoped to catch a third Ace, but knew there were only two outs for that to happen. By now the pot was already huge; no way was I about to abandon my pocket Aces. I could only hope.

Would you believe the turn was a third trey! What a surprise! I had a full-house – treys full of Aces! Only quad treys or tens-full could beat me. I was optimistic.

Again, the Big Blind opened the betting – $12. I raised to $24. The Button made it three big bets – $36. And the Big Blind topped it off – $48. With four of us staying to see the river, this was easily the biggest pot of the night.

The river card was a rag. Without hesitation, the Big Blind opened the betting – $12. The only hands that could beat my full-house were tens-full or quad treys – both very unlikely. So I raised the bet to $24. And then the Button re-raised – $36. The Big Blind was all in. And I went all in when I called that last raise.

Showdown: The Button turned up a pair of Kings. The Big Blind also had a pair of Kings. I could hardly believe my eyes. Then, happily, I showed my A-A in the hole. What a pot I had won! I needed four racks for the chips – and my night at the Hustler was a huge success! Such a hand is hard to believe!

But that’s not where the story ends. After racking up my chips, I was on my way to the restroom when someone came running to me. My name had been called for the big Money Wheel. Being hard-of-hearing, I had missed the announcement over the loud speaker. Sure enough, my name had been drawn to spin the Hustler Casino Wheel of Cash. That brought me another $400 to add to my profits for the night. Believe it!

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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