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GEORGE HAD not played in a no limit Hold 'em tournament before. But he had one thing going for him. As an investment banker, he knew about money management. This was an itty-bitty little tournament at Foxwoods, the vast casino resort run by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in Connecticut.

With an entry fee of $25 and buy-ins at $20, the tournament would not break us. Players were a mixture of old geezers, young hopefuls and semi- pros. On my right, a young guy who had learnt poker only a month or two before confided he was thinking of turning professional. When he was dealt aces back to back, his hands started to tremble uncontrollably.

I never had any chips but got through to the last place before the final table. They were only paying five spots, anyway. But George got lucky. He hit trip tens against a higher pair, amassing a mound of chips. "What do we do now, coach?" he asked, as we withdrew for a hot dog.

"If it comes down to six players, don't do anything at all," I advised. "Let a couple of the others bust each other out." I stood behind George's chair in trepidation. He found two tens in the hole and bet them. Someone else raised. George went all in. Down came the flop with a jack and two rags. I closed my eyes, but fortune was with him. On the river he needed a nine for an inside straight and hit it. "Now what?" he inquired.

This was no time for subtlety. "If you get dealt an ace, just go all in." Three times this strategy worked. Then for some reason he called with ace-x and was pulled back. It came down to three players. One of them, an amusing and highly vocal local yokel, kept jumping up and yelling, "I got 'em this time, I'm gonna bust yo' ass right now", then flashing an ace after the others folded. The third player was a young pro.

Together they squeezed George out of his hands until he had to make a stand. He went all in on #5-#7 - not recommended strategy. Down came two aces and George bowed out in third place. "Investment banking is safer," he opined.