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10/02/2010 No. 80
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Wed 10 Feb 2010
Should I have gone all-in – or folded?

Poker is a game where you can – and must – keep learning as the years go by. Betting fashions wax and wane; two of the world's top players, Vanessa Rousso and Gus Hansen, have both recently said that they completely changed their game strategies in the last year. But also, on a micro level, every hand brings its own new challenges. In the High Roller event at Deauville, I found myself in a situation I had never encountered before.

The field was down to 10, playing five-handed on two tables. I had only 13 big blinds. The under-the-gun player raised to 2.5 big blinds. (This is the kind of tournament where every player thinks he's the best in the world, so they all love small raises and minimum bets. They all think they have an edge after cards. They can't all be right . . .)

My hand was A K. Simple, eh? A straightforward, no-brainer all-in. But here's the catch: during the deal, before any action took place, the ace of hearts was exposed and removed from play.

Immediately, it is far less likely that my opponent has the hand I want him to have: a weaker ace. If I put him on a pair, my odds to beat him are reduced by nearly 10% by the loss of my overcard from the deck.

I moved in anyway, because he might have nothing and I don't want to sink below 10 big blinds. Sadly, the small blind was lurking with JJ and knocked me out. Most fellow players say it was correct to move in, but some say it would have been fine (or even correct) to fold. The debate proves that poker can always catch you off guard, even in a simple scenario like AK suited when you're short stacked.

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