poker David Spanier

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Sometimes you can be a clear favourite to win and still not want to bet your hand. In a no-limit tournament, for example, with a mountain of chips in front of you, when you might have a slim 5-4 edge, it is not correct to risk eliminmation by betting your whole stack. In that position a player should be looking to take on an opponent with a short stack, say about a third of his chips, so that if it goes wrong, he lives to fight another round.

The same situation arises in cash games, as I found to my cost the other night. Sitting on a pair of kings at seven-card stud, which I raised at the start, I was left facing a loose player on a low-flush draw. I was a narrow favourite. But I left out of account the fact that this man would go to the limit on such a hand, unfavourable odds or no.

I bet the pot on fifth street, and when he showed no improvement, bet the pot again. He came along at once, and, when the money was in, caught his flush on the down card. Given the chips position, I was foolish to go so far against a gambler hell-bent on a four flush, even though I was winning all the way to the last card.

A more spectacular move came up in a recent no-limit hold-'em event. Jeff called an all-in bet with a 5-2 off-suit. The reason was: first, he had only to bet about a third of his stack after putting up the big blind; and secondly, Matthias, the man he called, was sitting directly over him, "beating him up". Jeff called because, apart from the value, he saw the chance to remove a dangerous rival. And he did: Matthias, with A-J, was disgusted to see Jeff hit a full house 5s and 2s.

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