Poker is a game of decisions – and some of them can be worth several hundred thousand euros. As we approach the bubble in an event of this size, the number and importance of every call, raise or fold increases, and the top players have a tendency to make the right move at the right time.
And while most of us amateurs can only dream about playing for so much cash, it is sometimes possible to imagine ones way into these situations: hanging around in these events sometimes affords an insight into the thought processes of the best players.
Moments ago, with 27 players remaining, I caught a sight of Thomas Fuller squeezing his cards and seeing ace-ten off-suit. He was in the big blind and was facing a raise from Gunnar Rabe, the PokerStars qualifier from Sweden, who is hardly shy of putting his chips in the pot.
What would you do? Fuller had a decent stack; Rabe’s was somewhat smaller. Fold and let him take it, perhaps advertising that your blind is there for the stealing. Raise and hope that Rabe was on a steal? Calling is another choice, of course, but what flop do you really want to see, especially out of position?
In this instance, Fuller went for option two, and stuck another 25,000 in the pot. That gave Gunnar a decision, and he called with a reluctant shrug.
When the flop came littered with rags, Fuller tried flexing his muscles and moved all in, giving Gunnar a decision to call for his tournament life. But Rabe had actually been in the driver’s seat all along. He called and flipped aces. No miracle runner-runner was forthcoming for Thomas.
Fuller, however, was still sitting behind a healthy enough stack and the very next hand had another tough decision. This time Gyoergy Moger, from Hungary, moved his small stack all in pre-flop. Thomas this time found ace-jack and again he found the call. Moger had fours and they were racing.
But the flop this time was slightly more healthy: a king, ten and a queen meant a straight for the young American. He offered his hand to his opponent, but Moger refused to take it until he’d seen the next two cards. Sure enough, a four came on the turn, giving Moger a set and plenty of full-house outs on the river. Thankfully for Fuller, none came and Moger took the walk.
Up, down, up again in two hands. Who’d be a poker player?