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07/04/2010 No. 83
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Wed 7 Apr 2010
A trap that went horribly wrong - or did it?

As any fule kno, tournament results come from a mixture of skill and luck. James Mitchell, a great new English player with consistent final table results, played brilliantly to win the Irish Open over the weekend, but also hit some fantastic form – not least in beating QQ with A6 when he was heads-up and all-in.

You can't fight fortune. Keith "The Camel" Hawkins, an online genius who calls himself "the nearly man" in live events, went into Day Two as big chip leader, played at the top of his game and finished 20th after running KK into AA. No escaping that.

But there are situations where players get unlucky because they have invited it. There was a hand on Day One where The Camel (already chip leader, holding A 2) bet out on a flop of K J 3 and his opponent made a minimum raise. Easy call for Hawkins. The turn was A and The Camel check-raised his opponent all in for 11,000 (keeping 50,000 of his own behind). The opponent tabled AJ for two pair, and probably felt terribly unlucky when the river brought a fourth spade to knock him out.

But why had the guy min-raised, into the chip leader, with second pair on a flushing flop? This raise is too small to chase out a winning hand or a drawing hand. His cards are too weak to want a bigger pot or a shove from his opponent. This chap was lucky to see an A on the turn, unlucky to lose on the river, but he opened the door with that messy and indecisive flop bet.

Before every bet you make, ask yourself what you want it to achieve. If you don't know, don't bet. Remember: if calling feels weak and raising is dangerous, there's no shame in passing.
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