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6/10/2010 No. 94
he Guardian Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Wed 6 Oct 2010
Don't forget, poker is a head game

Two black aces on the button. Beautiful! But people can go broke with aces...

On the first hand of last week's EPT High Roller tournament, I found two black aces on the button. Beautiful! The poker player's Mona Lisa. But, like her smile, things turned a little enigmatic.

Dario Minieri raised to 600. Ignat Liviu called. I reraised to 2000, Minieri folded and Liviu called.

The flop came 10 7 3. Liviu checked and called my 4500 bet. The turn was J. Liviu checked. I could bet again, but the problem was stack sizes. If I bet 10k-15k and Liviu raised the pot – or called and bet the river – we'd be all in. I would be betting my entire £20,000 tournament on whether or not he had a flush/set. That's how people go broke with aces. So I checked.

River: Qs. Liviu bet 5500. I flat called and he rolled over Q7 for two pair.

Bizarre action, to my mind. Why did he want to play this hand at all, out of position, for a three-bet? He didn't think I was squeezing with nothing, or he would have four-bet. To flat call, he must put me on a real hand and hope to get my whole stack on a magical flop.

Hitting middle pair, the only "real hand" he's beating is AK. He can't be calling in the hope of his hand improving some more; that's too weak. I have to assume he planned a big check-raise move on the turn. That's a bad plan, since I'll only bet again with a hand strong enough to call the raise. And if I did have AK, the river gives me a straight – which he bets right into.

As the cards fell, I'm glad I checked the turn. If he raised, I'd have been knocked out in the sickest coup imaginable. It turned out nicely for Liviu anyway, but don't try this at home.
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