Games: poker

The inventor Sir Clive Sinclair is never happier than at his drawing- board, devising some new wheeze such as his Zeta motor for bicycles. This useful device saves pedalling uphill - a feat at which he has plenty of experience in high-low poker. Going downhill, however, all you need to do is apply the brakes at the right moment.

Sir Clive gave a good demonstration of this technique the other night, playing five-card Omaha (8 or better for low ), when he found


in his hand and the flop came down


The main aim in this dream situation, obviously, is to pick up speed without driving the other players out of the race. This means checking along and not taking over the betting. But the second aim, when playing high-low, is to try to make it a one-way hand, so that the high hand wins the whole pot. If someone makes a low hand, he may back in for half the pot, which more or less wipes out the value of the high hand.

So Clive, first to speak, checked. No one had raised the blinds before the flop and no one ventured a bet now. Everyone was very leery of trip kings.

On fourth street, a low card came down, a 24. Now the situation changed. Someone holding the ace of clubs may be tempted to draw to a flush, or with two pairs go for a full house. On the low side it is not, as a general rule, a good idea to call a big bet if you have only four cards to a low hand, even the ace-deuce. If a high card falls on fifth street, the low may never materialise, or the ace or deuce may be duplicated on board. Occasionally, if no one can raise again behind you, and half the pot is offering better than 2-1 for the money, you can risk it. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

In this instance, last card was a &3. This was not good news for Clive. Someone has almost certainly made the nut low, to back in and snitch half the pot.

But there was no point in holding back any longer, so finally he bet the pot. One man called. Clive showed his kings for four of a kind. The other player took a quick look at Clive's two cards A-5 for the low, and folded without showing his own hand.

"Nicely played," he felicitated the inventor through gritted teeth.