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11/06/2007 No. 29
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday June 11, 2007

They say that you can bet with a bad hand but you cannot call with one. But sometimes, in a tournament, it is the only logical play.

When my brother Giles was on the final table at the Sportsman tournament, he suffered an unlucky loss that left him with only two big blinds in his stack. On the break, I warned him that he could no longer afford to pass his big blind - the only advice I gave him all night.

Immediately afterwards, he was in the big blind. All passed round to the small blind, who raised him all-in. Giles looked down at a miserable 7-3 offsuit. He looked back at me in grumpy disbelief, but called.

His big blind was already in the pot: his opponent had put in two more big blinds. There were also running antes. It only cost Giles one big blind to call (because that's all he had), so he was getting over 3/1 his money. If his opponent didn't have a pair, nor either of Giles's two cards, then Giles would be at worst 2/1 to win the pot. Mathematically, this is a must-call.

Recreational players don't always want to bother learning the fiddly statistics of poker hands. To keep it simple: when you have a short stack, remember that you need to play yourself back into contention. Look out for situations where (although your hand is weak, and you're not expecting to win the pot), if you do win, it will be a large return for your small chips. This may not be because you have only two big blinds; you could have five big blinds but several people have already called a raise to increase the value.

In this case, my brother hit a pair of sevens on the flop, and went on to win the tournament.

Your can read more byAnthony Holden at his website

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