How strong is ace-king as a starting hand in Texas hold’em poker?

Ace-king – often known as ‘Big Slick, if suited, and ‘Big Ugly’, if not – is a strong, and therefore favourite, starting hand in Texas hold’em poker. Ace-king is, of course, a ‘drawing hand’ or, in other words, a hand that has the potential to become very strong indeed, but needs to hit the board in order to do so. Nevertheless, before the first three community cards, collectively known as ‘the flop’, are dealt, ace-king can be considered likely to win against any non-paired hand. The probability of ace-king beating, say, ace-queen is 71.62%. Indeed, even against any pair less than a pair of kings, the odds of winning with ace-king in the hole are still roughly 50:50.

Paired aces or kings are more problematic; paired aces reduce the probability of ace-king winning to just 5.86%, while paired kings reduce the probability to 29.74%. So, while ace-king is, no doubt, a valuable hand in Texas hold’em poker, its real value needs to be considered in the context of the position of the holder, the number of players in the game and their playing styles. Granted that ace-king will almost certainly lose if it fails to hit the board, it may be judicious to play the hand passively – that is, as a typical drawing hand – if you are facing, say, four or more opponents, but to play the hand aggressively in a heads up situation. If you fancy yourself as a poker pro in the making, the casino site list  is a great starting point, on your way proving your credentials!

Whether you’re playing in a casino setting, at home with your friends, or online or one of countless online casino options, remember, practice makes perfect! Have fun!

When were casino chips first used?

Prior to the invention of gambling tokens in the mid-nineteenth century, early gamblers wagered cash, in the form of notes or coins, or small valuable objects, such as pieces or gold and silver. Early, unmarked, gambling tokens, typically made of bone, ivory or shellac were a step in the right direction but, because they could be easily forged, it became necessary to engrave, emboss or inlay them with identifiable markings.

The precursor of the modern casino chip, made of 100% clay, in uniform size, using a compression mould technique, started to be mass produced in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Although fragile, 100% clay chips served their purpose until well into the twentieth century, when minerals, such as chalk and sand, were added to the clay mixture to improve durability, giving rise to the modern clay composite chip. The spots around the edge of the chip are created by removing sections and replacing them with material of a contrasting colour, before subjecting the whole chip to a heated compression process.

The next major advance in chip technology came in the Eighties, with the introduction of ceramic chips, which allowed lettering and graphics any where on the surface, rather than just on the inlay in the centre of the chip. Nowadays, standard casino chips measure 39mm, or 1.5”, in diameter and weigh between 8.5g, or 0.30oz, and 20.5g, or 0.7oz, but their exact composition varies from one manufacturer to the next.

What’s the biggest slots payout ever?

Slot machines, or slots for short, offer straightforward, low-stakes gambling opportunities and are popular in casinos, land-based and online, throughout the world. The advent of so-called ‘progressive jackpot’ slots – in which a percentage of the money staked on each spin of the reels contributes to a jackpot kitty, which keeps growing until it is won – has meant that slot players enjoy the prospect of winning astronomical sums of money for a relatively small stake.

Indeed, the biggest slot payout ever came courtesy of an International Game Technology (IGT) Megabucks slot in Excalibur, Las Vegas, in 2003. One of hundreds of similar, state-owned machines in Nevada, all linked together to form the first wide area progressive jackpot network in the world, the Megabucks slot paid out a staggering $39.7 million (£31.6 million) to an anonymous 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles, who hit the jackpot after playing just three $1 coins.

In the world of online slots, the distinction of the biggest payout ever – in fact, another progressive jackpot, worth £13.2 million – belongs to 26-year-old British soldier Jon Heywood. In 2015, Heywood staked just £0.25 on a single spin of the wheel on the Mega Moolah slots game at Betway Casino and became an overnight multi-millionaire. His life-changing winwas subsequently certified by Guinness World Records.

What is a ‘bad beat’?

In poker, specifically Texas Hold’em poker, a ‘bad beat’ occurs when the player who is the overwhelming favourite, statistically, to win a hand, loses to an opponent who, initially, holds an inferior hand but, more by luck than judgement, draws one or more cards required to snatch victory.

One example of a bad beat would be a player who holds a pair of tens, or ‘pocket tens’, going ‘all in’ against, and losing to, an opponent who holds a pair of fives, or ‘pocket fives’; mathematically, the player holding pocket tens should win four out of five, or 80%, of such hands. Another example is the so-called ‘runner runner’ bad beat, whereby a player who is, statistically, unlikely to win a hand after the flop draws the right card on both the turn and river cards to complete a winning hand. A frequent example of this type occurs when a player draws running cards to complete an inside, or gutshot, straight; a gutshot draw on the flop offers an 8.5% of making a straight on the turn card and a 16.5% chance of making a straight on the river card.

A bad beat may be a damaging experience, financially and psychologically, but worse still is an extraordinary and, thankfully, rare bad beat known as a ‘cooler’. A cooler occurs when an extraordinarily strong hand, such as four of a kind, or ‘quads’, played correctly, loses to an even stronger hand, such as a straight flush. Bad beats, including coolers, are a painful, but nonetheless unavoidable, part of poker. From the point of view of the person suffering a bad beat, an unexpected loss, or a series of such losses, may cause a loss of confidence, but should really be treated as a temporary downswing, rather than a reflection of the ability, or strategy, of the player.

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