Poker: Ghanem builds on his success

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TONY GHANEM, who runs a construction business in Beirut, won the British Open Championship at the Victoria casino on Sunday, playing no- limit Hold 'em. It was his first major British tournament, and he showed sharp judgement over two days of play and kept a firm grip on his money management to win the first prize of pounds 47,000. One of his best plays was winning a pounds 84,000 pot on a pair of deuces against the then tournament leader. Sitting on the big blind, Tony found 2c-6c in the hole. The flop came out 2d-Kh-Qc.

The opener, an experienced player, made a strong bet of pounds 17,000. The chips are not money as such: each player receives 5,000 playing chips in return for his pounds 1,000 cash entry fee. Tony called. He says he is the kind of player who will stick with a pair of deuces if he feels they are winning, and in an unfavourable situation not hesitate to dump a pair of aces. Next card off was the Kc. His opponent bet pounds 25,000.

A: (? ?)

2d Kh Qc Kc

B: (2c 6c)

It takes a lot of guts to call such bets, but Tony did not hesitate. 'If he had a king in the hole, he would have bet it differently. I thought my pair of twos was winning. Now, if he does have a king or a queen, I've got an out, with a flush draw. As long as I've still got enough chips left, I can play my way back.' Last up-card was a rag, both players checked. His opponent had impaled himself on As-8s.

When it got down to the last four from the 73 runners, Tony had a mountain of chips. He shut out his challengers by accurate defensive play, and then picked them off one by one when they were forced to commit their dwindling chips. For example, he threw away 7h-8h - a very tempting hand at no-limit - after an opponent made a small bet after the blinds. 'If I call and let him double his money, I've got to beat him all over again.'

Tony plays a lot of Hold 'em in Beirut, where life itself might be seen as a poker game. His play made him a worthy winner indeed.