Victoria Coren Analyses Apparent Poker Bluff

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Victoria Coren is a poker columnist in the Guardian Newspaper and her articles are often full of interesting insights. In her most recent article she analysed a play which she initially though of as crazy, but later revised her initial impressions.

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The hand was played during a tournament at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. On her table was Allan Baekke who is a professional player from Denmark. At the time he was in the lead in terms of chip count and not far behind him was an American player who was unknown to her. We will refer to him as “Mr A”. His stack was at least 200 blinds.

Blinds were 100 – 200 and Baekke bet 600. Mr A raised this to 1,500 then Baekke rased again to 4,500. This bet was called by MrA.

The flop showed 3-H; 6-H; 9-C. Baekke bet 8,000 which was raised to 18,000 by Mr A. This resulted in Baekke going all in for an additional 20,000.

Mr A. showed his cards which were 5-C and 7-C. Baekke showed a pair of Kings. The turn and river did not change the situation so Mr A was eliminated and left the table to the sound of laughter.

Of course in retrospect Mr A’s betting does seem to be absurd, but according to Coren it is entirely understandable. The first raise was a pot stealing try, he then bets hoping to hit, the flop provides a number of opportunities with either a 4 or an 8 needed for a straight. Had Baekke had AK or AQ it is likely that he would have folded. The final bet gave pot odds of 4/1 so he was correct to gamble.

Despite the fact that he had only 7 high and had bet over 15,000 on it, he betting had in fact been rational. Poker can be a funny game.

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