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21/04/2008 No. 69
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Apr 21, 2008

Although you get better at poker by reading books, watching TV matches and debating hands with friends, you should seek only to improve your natural game - not play as if you were someone else.

Last week I told you about the solid young German player Benjamin Kang and his full house. This is what happened next, when Kang decided to exploit his tight reputation with some heavy bluffing.

Faced with a raise and a call on his button, Kang re-raised with 10 4. Nothing wrong with that: a nice squeeze play from a credible "rock". But suddenly, a Dutchman called Van der Peet (who had so far put only the small blind into the pot) put in a huge third raise. This signalled an enormous hand: certainly no weaker than AK, which is what it actually was. The first two players folded. Kang should have given up at this point, realising he'd mistimed the squeeze. Instead, he called.

The flop came A 4 7, and the Dutchman bet out. Kang called, presumably planning a "float"; a sophisticated play, involving a call on the flop to bluff the turn. The turn was a J, and Van der Peet bet again. Kang thought for ages. He actually asked the Dutchman, "Do you have aces?" Then he raised all-in.

Given his own hand, the long pause and the strange question, it was an easy call for Van der Peet. Kang haemorrhaged most of his chips in this disaster. Why? Because squeezes and floats must be combined with flawless reading skills and a strong sense of situation. This crazy bluffing is not Kang's natural style, so he had no instinct for how it should be done. He was flying blind, and the plane crashed.

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