Poker

YOU ARE at the final table of a poker tournament. The prize money distribution is as follows: first prize, pounds 5,000; second, pounds 2,500; third, pounds 1,600; fourth, pounds 1,200; fifth, pounds 800; and sixth, pounds 400. The blinds (forced opening bets from the first two players on each deal) are pounds 200 and pounds 400.You have only pounds 200 in chips left, so you don't have a lot to think about - or do you? - especially when you find two aces in the hole.

In this situation, a fairly loose player is on the big blind and goes all-in for his last pounds 300. The rest of the players all have fairly large stacks. The player under the gun (first to act) is fairly tight and has a lot of chips left, and just calls. Everyone folds to you.

With pounds 800 in the pot (of which you could win only pounds 600) this is a tricky situation. Given the tournament pay-off structure, the difference between sixth and fifth place is pounds 400. Even if the loose player wins the hand, he will go all-in at least once more before you are on the blind. The small blind is almost certain to call for another $100. And even with a four-handed pot your pocket rockets are favourite.

But there is also a significant chance that you will lose. If you fold, there is probably a 65 per cent chance or higher that the loose player will be eliminated, and even if he wins, there is probably another 50 per cent chance that he will be eliminated before your blind. Combined, this means that there is more than an 80 per cent chance that you can win another pounds 400 in prize money by folding!

In real life, however, I don't think anyone would ever put down aces in this position. I took this admittedly somewhat far-out situation from the first issue of a new magazine called Poker Digest. This new venture is edited and published by the redoubtable June Field, founder of the highly successful Card Player. Poker Digest will appear fortnightly, in alternate fortnights from Card Player, and will be run by Linda Johnson - so there is now a magazine devoted to poker coming out every week. The first issue of Poker Digest looks professional, as you would expect from June. It profiles the new world champion, Scotty Nguyen, and has a number of expert articles, including a guided tour of Asian games. June says that the magazine is "dedicated to improving your game and your lifestyle".

Poker Digest, 1455 East Tropicana, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, $2.95 per issue

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