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19/11/2007 No. 51
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Nov 19, 2007

Sometimes a river card is perfect for you, even when it misses your hand completely. I was reminded of this during my first live cash game in six weeks (a lucrative night overall; poker has a way of welcoming you back, like the Hotel California). A serious young Asian fellow, whom I hadn't met before, raised in middle position and I gave him a spin with Hearts J and Hearts 9 in the cut-off. The flop came Clubs K, Diamonds Q and Diamonds 3. The chap bet £30 and I called. What the hell; I hadn't played in a while, I was feeling skittish, and I always think I can outplay people I haven't met before.

The turn came Spades 10. Hello! No need to outplay him now: a beautiful shiny middle pin. My opponent bet £100 and I made it £300. He thought a while and called.


The river was Diamonds K. Dammit, with a pair and a flush on board it was now too risky to bet the farm. When the fellow threw in £250, I flat called. And you know what he turned over? AJ off suit! That turn card was his own middle pin for the nuts. If the river had been a blank, we'd have both shovelled our money in and I'd have done my brains. That Diamonds K saved me.

It was actually a perfect raising card, had I known his hand. If I'd been holding J-10 rather than J-9 (and known that I couldn't take the pot just by showing my cards) I would certainly have raised on the end and he would have passed. A great player of my acquaintance says that if he puts his opponent on a made hand, he always counts flushing cards as outs to win the pot, even if he doesn't have a flush himself. He actually factors them into his pot odds when facing a bet. It's a beautiful theory, but apply with care.

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