Poker

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"You'll never believe this hand!"

Michael was so stunned, he rang me down in the depths of rural France from the card room at the Grosvenor Victoria to tell me about it. It was pounds 100 Hold 'em, a medium-sized game, the pounds 100 being the minimum amount of chips a player has to put up to play, with antes merely pounds 1-1-2. Most people put up pounds 300 or pounds 400, sometimes pounds 1,000. But this unknown Indian player suddenly appeared out of nowhere and plonked pounds 10,000-worth of chips down in front of him.

First hand, Michael found A-9 off-suit in the hole, raised before the flop and got two callers. Down came A-4-10. The opener bet the pot, pounds 150; the Indian and Michael both called. Next card was a 4, pairing the board: A-10-4-4.

Player A now bet pounds 300. The Indian gentleman called, Michael decided his 9 kicker was not good enough, and folded. Last card was a 6, no flush, no straight draw. The first man now bet pounds 600 at the pot. The Indian thought and thought and, finally, called. Player A smiled. "You win," he said, turning over a 2-7 off-suit - the worst possible starters at Hold 'em. He had been trying some esoteric super-bluff. The Indian, however, turned over a 2-3 off-suit. He could not even beat the board. In fact his only hope, and that merely to split the pot, would be if the better had also held 2-3.

A: (22-&7) !A-410-24-&4-!6

B: (&2-43)

The point of this story is the extraordinary fact that the bluffer chose to show his (quite obviously losing) 2-7, rather than muck his cards in the deck. Ninety-nine people out of a hundred would feel so embarrassed by exposing such a pathetic hand, they would prefer not to show their cards at all. But in the event the 7 took it! Obviously the Indian visitor did not understand the game. Indeed in a home poker game he would probably have been given his last bet back, because he called in a situation in which he could not win. So why did player A choose to show his ineffable 2-7? He wanted the newcomer to see how loosely he played. Point taken.

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