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Indy Lifestyle Online
Al Alvarez, poet and poker author, waited a year to take his revenge on the player who busted him out of the World Championship when he was last in Las Vegas. This time, Alvarez played his hand to perfection. The irony was that the player involved, Billy Baxter, renowned as the biggest sports bettor in town, had no recollection of his previous victory, which had hurt Alvarez so deeply. To professionals, the past is gone and each deal is a new hand.

The event this time was a $2,500 entry, no-limit, Hold 'em tournament. Al, first to speak, was dealt A4 44. He raised and Baxter called. Out flopped a red ace and two spades. Alvarez kept calm and checked. Baxter bet; Al just called. Next card off was a 4. Now Alvarez, aces-up, was virtually certain he was best, but wanted to trap his man. He checked, Baxter bet out, and Al again flat called. The last card was another spade.

Alvarez: A4 44

A1 104 64 42 74

Baxter: ? ?

Now Al bet small, as if to try to steal the pot. Baxter raised, obviously putting his man on aces-up. And Al, sitting on a cinch, went all in. To his surprise, Baxter called him. Al showed his ace flush. His opponent threw his cards in and quit the table. Later, he said he also had a flush, presumably a high one.

This was good, risk-free play by Alvarez. He could well have raised on fourth street, but did not want to face a re-raise if by some outside chance his opponent had concealed trips.

The World Championship this year was won, as usual, by a pro player, Dan Harrington, 49, of Downey, California. He came through a record field of 273 to win the $1m first prize (plus a golden bracelet). His winning hand was two pairs, queens and eights. The best British finisher was Londoner Mike Cook, who came a highly creditable 11th. A feature this year was that a woman reached the final table. Barbara Enright won pounds 114,000 for fifth place. She had the mortification of going all in on 8s wired, only to see a miserable 6-3 improve to two pairs. Bad beat, babe.