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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Don't Play Hold'em According to What You See on TV

27 March 2004

It was Super Bowl Sunday, about two hours before kickoff time. A major TV network was showing the World Poker Tour from the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Lots of big names from the pro poker circuit were at the final table and they had just gotten down to the final four players. Probably the biggest name of the four was Howard Lederer, who had won two previous WPT tourneys in other locations.

In one particular hand, Lederer was on the button (last seat to act). The two blinds had their money in and then Jose Rosencranz put in a several thousand dollar raise with pocket 7s from the number three seat. Lederer had an unsuited 6/3 and paused for the longest time.

Now, there are 169 different starting hands you can be dealt in Texas Hold'em and a 6/3 off-suit ranks in the bottom ten. In fact, the odds are about 16-to-1 that your next random hand will be better than this one right here. Howard easily had enough chips to fold the next several hands and let the other players go head to head, possibly knocking one or more of them out. Everybody was convinced he was just putting on a little act so as not to appear too tight, and that he would surely throw his weakstick hand away. But no After counting down his chips two or three times, he announced, "I'm all in!"

Since the viewing public can see all the players' hole cards via under-table cameras, everyone was shocked, including the offscreen commentators. Howard had to believe that Jose, who raised right "under-the-gun," had a legitimate hand -- and who knows, one of the blinds just might have something to play with too.

The blinds folded and Jose called without too much hesitation. At that point before the flop, Lederer was a 6-to-1 underdog to win the hand. He didn't, and then there were three survivors.

Of course, it's possible that Howard may have seen something none of us saw to cause him to bluff with a virtually hopeless hand, but that's not really what this article is about. I merely used this high visibility hand as a classic example of the fact that:

Final table tournament poker is a completely
different animal than full table limit poker.

What's sad is that many TV viewers are taking up Texas Hold'em and playing it the way they see the top pros play at the end of a tournament. That's all wrong for regular limit Hold'em.

So today, I'm going to reiterate two critical principles so that you don't start off your Hold'em game on the wrong foot.

  1. Good starting hands are of utmost importance.
  2. The three most important things after that are position, position and position.

Here's what I mean. Of the 169 different starting hands you can be dealt, only about 30 of them are good enough to be played in the first six seats to act of a nine or ten-handed game. Those hands are listed below in their approximate order of value. An "s" means the hand is suited.

     A/A     A/J-s    10/9-s
     K/K     8/8      Q/J
     Q/Q     K/Q-s    Q/10-s	
     J/J     A/J      J/10				
     A/K-s   K/Q      J/9-s		
     10/10   Q/J-s    K/J
     A/K     K/J-s    9/8-s
     A/Q-s   A/10-s   7/7	
     A/Q     J/10-s   Q/9-s
     9/9     K/10-s   8/7-s

Those thirty hands are all good to decent. In the first four seats, fold those in the third row unless you're a blind and can get in for a half bet max. Coming in to see the flop with merely decent hands will trap you again and again when you're out of position.

Now, when you're sitting in seats 7 through 10, you can open your game up and sometimes come in with things like A/7-s, 4/4, K/10 and even Q/9. But that's only if nobody's raised by the time they get around to you.

The key point today is -- when you play in a regular Hold'em game, nobody has to put themselves in danger before they run out of chips the way tournament finalists are forced to. Keep throwing away hands until you've got a good one. And if that's not enough action for you then, my friend, you're playing the wrong game. Patience and discipline are the words.

Don't Play Hold'em According to What You See on TV is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey