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04/02/2008 No. 59
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Feb 04, 2008

My regular Tuesday home game finished at a reasonable hour last week. Finishing the washing-up at only 2am, I had time on my hands. And what better way to unwind before bed than with a $100 online heads-up match?

Actually, it's a terrible thing to do before sleep. Putting money at risk, combined with staring at a colourful screen, makes your brain zip and fizz when you eventually lie down. Another problem is the likelihood of being shouted at in the "chat box"; nobody ever slept better for being annoyed.

In this case, my opponent started hammering his keyboard (amazing, the spellings they come up with to get swear words past the censor) because I won a pot with QJ against his A7 when we were all in before the flop.

I typed back: "You do realise that's a 50/50?"

"GAWWWDS SAKES", he typed back (addressing, I think, the universe rather than me). "THESE FISH BEAT ME WEN THEY DONT EVEN KNOW WOT A RACE IS!!! I AM CLEAR FAVORIT."

"OK," I replied.

Most people refer to AK against a pair as "a 50/50" - which is close enough, although the pair is more like a 55% favourite. But, oddly, few recreational players realize that a big card and a small card against two middling connectors is an even closer race: his A7 was just a shade over 50% to win.

If you sometimes find yourself swearing at opponents for outdrawing you in these spots, go to, and run a few hands through the odds calculator in their "Tools and Tips" list. It's a great way to study the prices of starting hands.

And if you're having trouble getting to sleep, forget online poker and go back to the old bath-and-book routine. I think I might.
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