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14/01/2008 No. 56
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Jan 14, 2008

Tomorrow on Channel 4, the main Late Night Poker tournament finally begins. It's great to see hot young players like Annette Obrestad, Jen Mason and Praz Bansi crop up in the show that changed the world when they were still learning how to change their socks (although probably already laying bets on what colour they'd be).

What I love about the new series is the way it tips a hat to its past. A strand called Late Night Poker Gold shows us great encounters from former years: tomorrow, we see the nightmare that sprang up for Phil Hellmuth in 2001, when he tried his best speech-play on a Frenchman who responded with nothing but baffled mime. It drove Phil even madder than he is already.

Another strand involves showing a modern hand in the old Late Night Poker style, when we didn't see all the hole cards. Nowadays, the audience is much more informed and watches very technically: blinds and stack sizes are regularly flashed (which is good), but they also want to see all the cards from the off, which reduces the suspense of what was once more of a drama than a sports show.

Tomorrow, Bo Sehlstedt raises with AJ off and gets called by Ian "Razor" Frazer, who has already won big pots with AA and with 4 high. Bo bets 500 on a flop of A diamonds, K diamonds and 6 spades, and Frazer calls. They both check a Q hearts turn, Bo bets 600 on a J spades river and Frazer moves all in. In the dark, one realises how scary it is that Frazer could have the nuts or bugger all but a busted flush. You think it's irritating that I can't spoil the moment by telling you now? How annoyed do you think I feel? In five weeks' time, I have to play this guy for $60,000.

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