Poker

THE BIGGEST hand ever played in the big game at the Grosvenor Victoria casino in Edgware Road, London W2, came up recently at low-ball. This is seven-card stud low, with A-2-3-4-6 off-suit the best low hand.

It is a game of skill, though a lot of players think that winning is all down to luck. The skill comes in reading the other players, in the betting, and in calculating the value of calling big bets.

Corky, who is a good gambler, and also has the reputation of being very lucky, had about pounds 23,000 on the table in chips. He started off the session with pounds 7,000 but had bluffed Ernie on the previous hand. Ernie, who liked to put on a show of strength with his chips, was sitting with pounds 20,000 plus.

Three players were in the hand, after Paul raised the opening bets. Ernie and Corky both showed a 7. Ernie caught a 6 and Corky a 4. Corky, showing 7-4, now checked, a subtle move that implied perhaps that the 4 had paired him in the hole. Ernie bet the pot, pounds 815, as he should do, Paul called, and Corky now raised, pounds 2,500. Paul folded. The next card for Corky was a 3. With ace-deuce in the hole he now had a 7-4-3-(2-A), a very powerful hand. He bet pounds 5,000 at the pot. Ernie, who had caught a 5 for a 7-6-5- (3-A), was hooked.

Sixth street was no help to either of them. So Corky stuck in pounds 15,000.

Ernie felt that he could not pass. He had a draw to a six low and he suspected that Corky had one bad card in the hole, a pair or a high card. This was quite likely, because he was a renowned bluffer.

Quite a crowd had gathered round the table, watching the chips pile up. On the river, Corky caught a 10, and bet the rest of his chips.

Ernie caught a jack, which was no improvement either. Whatever card he caught, he was bound to call for the money. The pot was just under pounds 52,000. Next day, whether it was all the excitement or just bad luck, Corky fell ill. However, he expects a speedy return to the joust.

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