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If there were no out-draws at poker, there would be no betting. The best hand at the start would always win. I was reminded of this truth by a lucky out-draw at seven-card stud at the Victoria casino the other night. On fourth street Spiro, a strong gambler, not afraid of putting his money where his mouth is, showed a Q-J offsuit. The pot had already been well bet on the first two rounds. Spiro now re-raised pounds 220. It's obvious enough he has a high pair, if not two pairs. What is more, everyone understood that there was no way, short of a crow-bar across the knuckles, of dissuading him from seeing this hand through to the death. That is the kind of guy Spiro is.

But Derry, sitting on a pathetic looking &5&9, now called the pounds 220 and re-raised pounds 660 all in. I thought he must have concealed trips because three diamonds were out, including a hand showing &A&8, which now folded. It's certainly a very bad play to bet so much money to hit a flush, when several cards of your suit are out. Even if Derry has a higher card in the hole than Spiro, say a &K, it's a pretty faint hope to catch a higher pair to save himself, if his four-flush does not fill. But Derry had obviously not read Seven- Card Stud for Advanced Players, which warns: "If three of your suit are out, your three flush is just about always unplayable."

Spiro: (!92Q)4Q2J

Derry: (&7&2)&5&9

Derry's re-raise would probably have persuaded me to fold, admittedly. I would not want to gamble all my chips on a single pair of queens standing up, even if I am an 11-10 favourite. (The advantage is too narrow for the cost.) But Spiro, true to form, barely hesitated. For him, a high pair is p-o-w-e-r. "Trips?" inquired Spiro as the dealer stacked up the chips. "I'm only going for the flush," Derry confessed. The next two cards off were blanks, but on seventh street he hit the elusive diamond, 10- high. The pot was worth nearly pounds 2,000. Later, I asked Derry why he stuck so much money in on such a bad bet. I thought his answer compounded his misplay. "Sure and I'd won a grand in a previous game, so I decided I might as well gamble it," he explained.

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