"Mata Ases" or "Kill Aces", Poker Variant

JoeOffsuitJoeOffsuit Red Chipper Posts: 404 ✭✭✭
Last year when I was in Mexico, I observed the high limit players were playing a no limit poker variant that I had never seen before, that appeared to be a cross of stud and holdem, and they were all playing high stakes, loose and reckless. I learned the high limit players in Mexico had gotten bored of NLH and PLO, and they enjoyed this variant more. I am always interested in poker variants, especially wild games. I had been trying to get the rules for the past year, and finally got back to a Mexican poker room last night where I had the opportunity to actually play it. Last year when I saw it, the bring-in was 100 pesos (about $5) and the average stack size was around 50,000 pesos (around $2500), and there were no open seats. Last night when I found it again, there was a game with a bring-in of 20 pesos (about $1) and the average stack was around 6,000 pesos (around $300) and I was more than happy to learn by playing at these stakes.

I understand this variant is very popular all over Latin America. I have found references to this variant all over the internet, but haven't been able to find the rules anywhere (English or Spanish) so I will attempt to describe them as I understand them:

Showdown winner:
- At the end of all rounds of betting, every player contesting for the pot will have 1 hole card and 4 face up cards, and there will be 3 community cards on the board. Each player must make the best 5 card poker hand using their 5 cards and 1 of the community cards. The best hand does not need to use a community card, but the hand may not use more than 1 of the 3 community cards.

- If no player can beat a pair of aces with their best 5 card hand, then the pot gets chopped among all players still contesting at showdown. I understand the original game required continuing players to continue the same pot with new hands until a player gets a hand that can beat a pair of aces, but they were just chopping the pot. The pot will never be awarded to a best hand that does not beat a pair of aces, as this impacts bluffing and calling bluffs.

Play of the game:
- All players are initially dealt a face up card followed by a face down card. The player with the lowest face up card starts the first round of betting with a forced bring-in (similar to stud.) Betting continues to his left like a normal stud betting round, with folding players turning all their cards face down and mucking them. If the bring-in is not raised, the bring-in player has the option to raise.

- After the first betting round, now starting with the player with the highest card showing, players in turn have the option of flipping their hole card up for their 2nd face up card and getting a new hole card from the dealer, OR scratching the table to get a 2nd face up card from the dealer and keeping their original hole card. After this process has gone around the table, all remaining players will all have 2 face up cards and one hole card, the dealer will immediately deal 3 community cards in the middle of the table similar to a flop.

- After the flop, there will be a 2nd round of betting starting with the player with the highest 3 card hand based on each player’s 2 open cards and 1 of the 3 community cards.

- After the 2nd round of betting, players will in the same order have the option of EITHER keeping their current hole card and taking their 4th card face up OR flipping their hole card and taking their next card face down. However, if the 2nd round of betting was all checks, all players must flip their hole cards up and take their next card face down.

- After everyone has 4 cards, there will be a 3rd round of betting starting with the player with the highest 4 card hand based on each player’s 3 open cards and 1 of the 3 community cards.

- After the 3rd round of betting, players will get their 5th card with the same rules of getting their 4th card. At the end, each player will have 4 cards up and 1 hole card. This will be their final card.

- After everyone gets their 5th card, there will be a 4th and final round of betting, followed by a showdown to determine if there is a winner, or if the pot will be chopped by all players with cards if no one can beat a pair of aces.


I see this variant as opportunity (especially the way I saw it played.) I saw experienced players (not always good) bluffing and calling with ridiculous draws if they think they can also back-door a chop. Calculating your own outs as well as your opponents outs based on "seen cards" could be huge here. I am very curious if anyone here has seen this variant before or played it, or if anyone has any thoughts on this variant.


  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 2,388 -
    Pretty sure this is spread in LA.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • Doug HullDoug Hull RCP Coach Posts: 1,781 -
    The one is LA (the Bicycle I am thinking of) It is strip deck, only for some odd reason they strip some of the middle. There are no community cards.

    Even when people are all-in with two of their five cards and it is just a matter of each getting three more cards there is a weird amount of posturing since they each squeeze out their new card and agonize over showing or changing their down card. what should be a 30 second showdown turns into a bad three minute mini-drama.

    This game at the Bike seems like it could be easily solved and it seems to be played really, really horribly. If I lived closer I would code it up in MATLAB one afternoon to find that optimal play.
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  • JoeOffsuitJoeOffsuit Red Chipper Posts: 404 ✭✭✭
    edited December 2018
    I found the rules for the Bicycle version here:


    And this is quite different than the "Mata Ases" game I actually found in Mexico. The games are similar with respect to the stud options, but here are the differences I found:

    Bicycle Mexican Poker: 41 card deck with 9s and Ts removed, 1 joker
    Mata Ases: Standard 52 Card Deck with no joker

    Bicycle Mexican Poker: Each player posts "Collection" before each deal.
    Mata Ases: No collection is required to be posted.

    Bicycle Mexican Poker: First round betting begins with high card player who may choose bet size.
    Mata Ases: First round betting begins with low card player posting minimum forced bet, which is live if not raised

    Bicycle Mexican Poker: No community cards
    Mata Ases: 3 community cards dealt after 3rd street, players may use just 1

    Bicycle Mexican Poker: Each player decides to flip or hold hole card on every round
    Mata Ases: Hole card must be flipped by all players after a round of all checks

    Bicycle Mexican Poker: Best hand wins pot
    Mata Ases: Best hand must beat a pair of Aces to win pot, or pot is chopped among players with cards (this adds a unique dynamic for bluffing.)

    I completely agree with Doug that after all players are all in, it makes no difference if remaining cards are received face up or exchanged for a hole card. I didn't see any of this playing in Mexico. Actually players were making these decisions very quickly, with the biggest delays in players deciding to call large bets which were quite common.

    I believe optimum strategy for both games would require a good memory of "seen" cards, as well as keeping track as "dealt" and "flipped" cards from which rounds. I remember when stud was big, strong players would have mind tricks for memorizing "seen" cards, and with this game being played 9 or 10 handed, there are a lot more "seen" cards, and at the time the community cards are dealt, players still live in the hand will have 2 cards up making this pretty difficult. I noticed players didn't seem interested at all in tracking seen cards, with the players in seats 2 and 3 having trouble seeing the players in seats 8 and 9, and players in seats 1 and 10 having trouble seeing opposite the dealer. And then for 5 and 6 card poker hands, flushes and straights are much less common the 7 card poker hands, which seems to reduce the value for all the extra head work. But I am sure for both games there are more valuable cards to try to remember, especially for the hands we are drawing for from our initial cards.

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