Playing poker, our main objective usually is to win as many chips as possible. That said, there are some special, unique circumstances in which you may actually want to lose a pot while holding pocket Aces.
During certain specified hours, many poker rooms offer a bonus to a player who holds pocket Aces and is beat by an opponent who ends up with a better hand. For example, Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino in Gardena, California, awards a $100 bonus to a player who loses with pocket Aces every other hour from 3:00AM until 4:00PM; it’s called an “Aces cracked” promotion.
Being dealt pocket Aces won’t happen too often – on average, perhaps once during a seven-hour session. So, how do you best play your hand on those rare occasions when the poker G-ds smile on you, and you are fortunate to be dealt pocket Aces during the hours specified for the bonus?
In a $4-$8 limit game, there’s usually no way that you can lose chips with this hand! One way or another, you will end up with more chips to fill your racks. If your A-A holds up to the showdown, you take the pot with the best hand. If an opponent beats you out, you still get the $100 bonus.
Peeking down at your A-A in the hole, your first reaction is a big smile. But, don’t do it; maintain your poker face – be calm – so your opponents won’t suspect that you are starting with the top made hand. If they did, then most would likely fold marginal starting hands. Keep them in the pot. The more opponents staying in, the more likely one of them will beat you out. That’s what you want when you are shooting for the Aces-cracked bonus.
Note: A-A is about an 80% favorite over each opponent before the flop. If four or more opponents stay to see the flop, then you become an underdog – more likely to get your A-A cracked, so you can win the big bonus.
Just play along; call all bets and raises. Don’t be aggressive by betting more than you need to stay in the hand; don’t raise.
How best to play it
Poker is well known as a game that takes just a few minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. The same can be said with blackjack, incidentally. With both games, there are multiple ways one can decide to play each and every hand. In terms of tips on playing blackjack better, that’s more of a topic for another article. Poker-wise, there are volumes dedicated to learning how to play the game better, but the “aces cracked” bonus presents a rather unique situation.
If it’s a limit game with only a moderate amount of raising (or none), that $100 bonus should often well exceed the amount of chips in the pot. That bonus is thus what most smart players are hoping for.
One precaution: The rules require that there be a minimum of $20 in the pot after the drop (rake). If it looks like the pot may be shy, then make a bet (or raise) on the river to ensure that minimum is reached so that you qualify for the bonus.
If it is a wild game with lots of preflop raising, the pot could exceed the $100 bonus; likewise, if it is a half-kill game where the bets are increased by 50%. In those two cases, the pot may end up being well over $100, in which case you ought play your hand to build the pot and take it down, rather than shoot for the bonus. On the river, if it looks like your pocket Aces will take the pot, be sure to make a value bet or a raise. Consider trying for a check- raise. The more chips you scoop up on the showdown, the happier you will be.
I love pocket Aces at any time, and especially when it’s time for the Aces-cracked bonus. One way or the other, I cannot lose.