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09/04/2007 No. 21
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday April 09, 2007

A situation came up during the Cardiff GUKPT which reminded me - as if I had forgotten - that poker is a slippery game, in which any hand can be played a number of ways.

It was early in the tournament. Several players limped in, and I called on the button with J7. The flop came KJ4 - very good for my hand. Everybody checked, and I bet 400. My opponents all passed except for the last one: Mickey Wernick, otherwise known as "the Legend". (He was previously "the Worm". I think he likes his new nickname better.)

This man is one of the heroes of British poker, a great survivor of many years at the baize. When he raised my bet to 1,400, having previously checked, I should probably have passed. But, with a pair and flush draw, I called.

The turn was 9, making my flush, and the Legend bet 3,000 (from a stack of 10,000). He could be testing the water with a set of fours - in which case I should raise, but it would have to be all in. Or he could be holding a bigger flush than mine (A10 and Q10 would both be check-raising hands on that flop), in which case an all-in raise would be suicidal. He could have Q and an off-suit 10, giving him a straight (which I was beating) and a bigger flush draw. Feeling uncertain, I took the conservative option of folding. I showed my hand, unwisely, and my opponents insisted that I should have moved all in with the flush. Mickey admitted (or claimed) they were right. I despised myself.

Five minutes later, a friend of mine was knocked out on a nearby table. Why? Because he turned a flush, and refused to believe that his opponent could be holding a bigger flush. He moved all in, and this ended his tournament.

The only rule is that there are no rules.


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