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23/04/2009 No. 75
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Thur 23 Apr 2009
A mixed-up world

The other night, in a live cash game, I managed to get it all in with the Ah Qs against the 4c 5c on a flop of 5s Ac Kc. I lost the pot, but this is not a bad-beat story. The hands are 50/50. It would have been unremarkable were it not for the fact that my opponent immediately got up and went home.


A cop and hop! The whole table shivered with disapproval and barbed comments were made. If you are used to the internet (where getting up immediately after a significantly profitable hand is not just acceptable but advisable), be warned that this is considered foul play in a live game.

But what a curious tradition. The idea is that it's "sporting" to give opponents "a chance to win it back". So what? There is no pretence that poker is about hoping other people win. Check-raising and making misleading comments (both once banned, then frowned upon) are now welcomed as part of the general trickery of the game. We are there to take each other's money. If you let your opponent win something back, it would be considered cheating. Essentially, then, you're just supposed to make a show of it. Like saying, "How are you?" to an acquaintance when you don't really care. Or replying "Fine, thank you" when you're riddled with pox or near-suicidal from heartbreak.

So, I advise you of this old-fashioned cash game etiquette on the understanding that it is groundless, illogical and silly. Nevertheless, in our funny little country where the same applies to almost every other piece of etiquette, that is just what I love about it.

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