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The Independent Culture
Fashions come and go, but Texas Hold'em is currently the most popular of all poker games. It is so simple - two cards in the hole and five dealt face-up in common - that everyone thinks he can play it. But the game is highly subtle and deceptive. No wonder books and manuals keep coming out on how to play hold 'em.

The latest is Hold 'em Excellence, sub-titled "From beginner to winner", by Lou Krieger, a player-writer out on the west coast. Here's an example from the book of subtlety in card-reading, though it turned out badly for the author. He was last to act, holding pocket kings, and re- raised a very strong player on his right. The flop came down:

2A !K 44

His opponent bet, Krieger raised, and was re-raised. Krieger knew his man so well he was sure he would not have bet if he'd flopped a set of aces (trips). He would merely check and re- raise on the turn (4th street). So he put him on A-K, with a smaller possibility that he held a hand like !A-!J. The turn card was the !6. He bet and Krieger raised. His opponent called. If he had flopped a set of aces, he would now have re-raised, since this would have been the best possible hand.

Now Krieger was almost certain the man held A-K. As his opponent knew Krieger equally well, he would not have called with less than two pairs. When the !8 fell on the river (last card), he bet, Krieger raised, and he re-raised. Now the author knew his original assessment that his opponent held A-K was wrong. He had to have a hand like !A-!J and had tried to steal the pot on the turn, with top pair and a reasonably good kicker.

Each player, by virtue of his bets, raises and re-raises, was defining his hand in terms of what he presumed the other was holding. "Although my analysis was correct," Krieger laments, "I was too late to save myself any money."

Hold 'em Excellence, by Lou Krieger, is available from: B & F Enterprises, Inc, 2375 East Tropicana Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, $30 including postage.