Poker is a game full of questions, both verbalized and communicated otherwise via a host of actions and gestures.
Taken individually, each question is unique, affected by the seemingly endless list of “it depends” qualifications that characterize each situation.
But in a way, many of the questions are similar. So many, in fact — maybe even all of them — might be regarded as variations on the same, simple query…
Stop by any table, at any moment, and you hear — and “see” — the same question being asked multiple times. How much? The need to quantify, to establish limits that can be used as guidelines by which to proceed, seems to arise over and over again.
Often the question is directed toward pinning down bet amounts or stack sizes. How much is the bet? How much do you have?
But the question comes up more often than that, with different meanings and in different contexts.
For example, not long ago Rens Feenstra — having answered to himself the question of how much the big blind was (16,000) — put in a raise of 34,000 from under the gun, and it folded around to Douglas Souza in middle position.
The Brazilian leaned forward. We knew it was coming.
“How much?” he asked, waving a finger in the direction of Feenstra’s stack. The most literal variation on the theme.
The Dutchman peered back across the felt. How much meaning was there behind Souza’s question? How much time should he take to answer?
“About 640,” he said, not hesitating much at all.
Souza rechecked his cards not once but twice. How much of a hand did he have? Enough with which to continue. How much should he reraise? After further thought, he decided, pushing out 87,000 total.
It folded back to Feenstra, who exhalingly let his hand go. Souza collected his winnings and as the next hand was dealt he looked down at his newly improved stack.
How much did he have? About the same as Feenstra now, a little over 600,000.
How much was the average? With 50 players left, exactly 740,400.
The next hand Souza was opening, then Tom Middleton reraised from a few seats down. Another raise and a call, and Souza was all in and showing his 10♦10♥, leaning over once more to see how much of a hand his opponent had.
Much too much, from Souza’s point of view, as the Englishman showed K♣K♦. The flop came six-high, followed by a jack and queen, and Souza wished the table good luck as he stood to go.
How much did he win for a 50th place? €18,200. How much did start-of-day leader Middleton have now? Close to 1.4 million, good enough still for the top five.
Forty-nine players remain. How much do they want an EPT title and €1,067,000 first prize? How much would it mean to win? How much will it take to get there?
Answering such questions is difficult at present. All will have to ask “how much?” of each other many more times to find out.
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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.