Games: Poker

THE TOURNAMENT of Champions, held at the Orleans casino in Las Vegas, attracted an entry of 664 players. It was won by David Chiu, 38, whose prize was $214,543 plus a Lincoln Continental. All nine players at the final table won a new car. The inspiration for this grand event came from that Vegas pro and all-round good egg, Mike Sexton, who worked for two years to make it happen. It was called the Tournament of Champions because to qualify each entrant had to have won a previous tournament. The entry fee was $1,500.

Chiu's victory was founded on one of the hardest and most spectacular plays you can ever make at Texas Hold 'em. He put down a hand of two kings against two aces. On the button David Chiu raised $50,000, after one player had called. Louis Asmo, who was next to act, took a quick look at the dealer and announced $600,000 all in. The players on the blinds, $10,000 and $20,000, and the original caller folded.

Chiu thought for about a minute, stacking and re- stacking his chips. Then he tapped his cards on the table, indicating a fold, and turned his hand 2K-4K - face-up! Asmo smiled and - in the spirit of the occasion - showed his winning hand 2A-4A. The crowd roared. Why did he choose to show his aces? "I respect David, and thought it would be good for poker."

After it was all over, Chiu explained his thinking to Poker Digest magazine. "I just knew Louis had aces. Given our chip positions and the respect we have for one another, he would not make that play with A-K or Q-Q. He is a careful player yet he acted almost immediately . . . If I call I will be hurt badly and may finish sixth. If I fold I still have a big lead."

Why did Asmo overbet his aces instead of setting a trap? He was trying to make Chiu think that he had A-K, and didn't want action on his hand. He thought that this was the best way to take $600,000 off the chip leader. Chiu read the situation perfectly. On such inspired plays are tournament victories made.