Poker: I'm here to win, not to act sweet

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The Independent Online
ONE mistake is all it takes to be knocked out of a tournament. It is especially painful when a player has steered through long hours of struggle and is, at last, in sight of the final table. One player who will think long and hard (as all losers do) of how she misplayed a crucial hand is Barbara Samuelson, rated as one of the strongest woman players on the pro circuit.

It was no limit hold 'em, the third night of the world championship. Ms Samuelson found a pair of deuces in the hole. She raised and got one caller. Hugh Vincent, a retired accountant from Florida, was a player previously unknown in Las Vegas. He had been playing pretty solidly. Out came the flop:

B: (2c 2d)

fo1307 H: (? ?)

Both players checked. Next card off was the 6d, giving Barbara a straight. What is the right play here? Certainly a bet is in order. It would obviously be a mistake to give her opponent a free draw at a flush, if he happened to hold a high diamond. If he has nothing, he will fold right away. If by some unlucky chance he had two diamonds, say A-x, and raised her back, she can think again, and fold. The question was: could he have a higher straight? He would hardly have called a pre-flop raise on a bare 7-x in the hole, one of the least promising hands at hold 'em.

So Barbara decided to go for it. She pushed forward the stacks of chips she had accumulated through the previous three days of the tournament and went all in. The dealer counted them down, dollars 167,000. The spectators craning around the table held their breath. Without fuss, her opponent moved his own chips forward to call. And as is the practice when the money is all in, both players turned over their hole cards.

He also had a straight, but two pips higher, 3-4-5-6 with the 7d 8s - not an unreasonable starting hand. Barbara was done. No last up-card could save her. Any diamond loses, including the 3d which would have given her a straight flush]

If Ms Samuelson had won this pot, she would have made history by becoming the first woman ever to reach the final table of the world championship. She did well in reaching 10th place, with a consolation prize. Her day will come: 'I'm here to win it, not to act sweet,' she told the table. Her conqueror finished in second place, winning dollars 588,000 - the cad.

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