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In a recent column, “Aces cracked! It just might beat winning,” in the May 24 issue of GamingToday, we discussed the bonus offered during certain hours of the day by many casinos, when an opponent beats your pocket-Aces.

In this case, the usual strategy is to invest as little money as possible and do what you can to keep opponents in the hand – no raising – so it is more likely someone will beat your A-A.

Of course, there are always exceptions. The presumption is the pot will contain much less money than the $100 bonus. We previously explained that one requirement is the pot contain more than $20. But, a huge pot is possible that could contain much more than the Aces-cracked $100 bonus.

The other night, I experienced exactly that situation in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game with ½-Kill; and I wasn’t prepared for it. Note that a full-Kill would double the size of the bets. A ½-Kill makes the bets 1½ what they were. Thus, in a $4-$8 game, the bets become $6 and $12.

Explanation: If a player wins two hands consecutively, with at least $20 in the pot on the second win, the dealer puts the ½-Kill button in front of that player. And, that player places 6 chips alongside of the ½-Kill button. It’s as if the game stakes became $6-$12.

In a middle position, I looked down at A-A in the hole. Cautiously, I checked my wrist watch to make sure the Aces-cracked bonus was in effect. Knowing I might be able to win the Aces-cracked bonus, I could sense my excitement, but maintained my cool.

An early-position player opened the betting – $6. I called. The next player raised to $12. Several players called the raised bet; and, of course, I calmly did likewise without showing any emotion; whereas, normally I would have re-raised with my A-A to thin the field, give myself a better chance of winning the pot.

But, now, I was hoping my pocket Aces would be beat (cracked). I didn’t want to force anyone out. The more opponents staying in the hand, the more likely one would gain the upper hand. And I wasn’t looking to build the size of the pot. In all, six players put $12 into the pot.

Focused on getting beat, I didn’t stop to think: That put $72 into the pot. And that was just the preflop round of betting! The flop put K-10-5 on the board. The early-position checked, and the player to his left opened the betting – $6. This time the button made the raise to $12. Five of us called to see the turn. That added another $60 to the pot.

If you are smart enough to keep track, that all adds up to well over $100! Unfortunately, I was too fixated on having my pocket-Aces cracked so I could win the $100 bonus. The turn was another 5 on the board.

Everyone checked to the Button, who opened the betting – $12. Five of us called. That’s another $60 going into the pot. If I had stopped to think, I would have realized the pot was almost $200 at this point – much higher than the bonus!

The river was a blank, followed by another round of betting with yet another raise, called by one other player and myself. At this point, I realized how huge the pot was – much bigger than the $100 bonus.

As it turned out the second 5 on the board had given an opponent trip 5’s, beating my two-pair, Aces and fives. Yes, I won the Aces-cracked bonus of $100 but my opponent scooped a pot with more than double that amount.

Afterward, I thought how I should have played that hand after the flop when I realized it was likely to be such a huge pot; but I was too fixated on getting my pocket 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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