Poker

LIMIT RAISE poker as played in American card-rooms is a very subtle game. It tends to be underestimated in Britain, where pot limit is the norm. The difference between the two games is the difference between the rapier and the broadsword - each has its use.

In limit poker each bet or raise is fixed - say, $3 before the flop and $6 after, or $10 and $20 or, if you play as high as that, $300 and $600. The winning technique, broadly speaking, is to make an extra bet, or save one bet, on each hand that you play. The subtlety of this version of poker is illustrated in the new edition of Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players, by the Las Vegas duo Sklansky and Malmuth.

For instance, they say it can be right in a loose game to bet a hand that you know is beaten. Suppose you hold 410 49 and the flop comes #A 27 !6, and the pot is fairly big, it is almost mandatory to bet if you are in early position.

You do this not only because you may make a straight, but because it's important to knock out hands such as #K!J. You should bet, they say, even if you knew someone had a six or a seven in the hand and was going to call you all the way. If a nine or a ten comes on the river, you want to maximise your chance of winning.

What's the chance that a ten or a nine will come in this spot? You have six chances twice, which works out at about 25 per cent. By betting out, you will win a decent proportion of those times you make a pair - when it wouldn't have won before. You also have about a 15 per cent chance to make your gut-shot straight.

So you go from as little as 15 per cent to more than 20 per cent, because you bet your 10-9 and knocked out players with overcards. And what if someone has an ace in his hand? That's too bad! But in pot limit, you would never have the chance to test your 10-9.

`Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players' is available from Poker Digest, 1455 East Tropicana, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, price $36.95

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