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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Fold That Poker Hand Instead of Betting It!

15 August 2008

When making the transition from kitchen table poker to casino poker, you're no longer playing Acey/Deucey with your Aunt Gladys. That stranger across the table with the sunglasses and toothpick didn't sit down for coffee and cheesecake - he came to empty your pockets! So you'd better get familiar with some sound poker precepts, or he'll eat you alive.

The precept of today's article is that you actually need a better hand to just call a bet than it takes to make a bet yourself. This fundamental axiom confuses many "kitchen table" poker players. But to have a chance to win at live casino poker, you'll need to understand this principle – and use it. Let's illustrate how this common situation might come into play with a basic example from Texas Hold'em.

Suppose you're sitting in the seventh seat of the betting rotation and are dealt:

Kc/10d

The first two players have put their blinds up and the next three players fold. Just one more player to act, and it'll be your turn. He looks like he's probably going to fold too, so you get ready to at least call, or maybe even raise. But alas, he raises right in front of you.

Now, you absolutely, positively must fold. Why, when you were thinking of raising yourself? It's because you've just received some last second information that changes the complexion of the hand considerably.

You see, with nobody in the pot thus far except the two blind hands and just two more players yet to act behind you, your King/10 would be a pretty fair hand. You'd be right in wanting to put a little pressure on the rest of the players and taking a look at the flop.

But now that you know somebody has a good enough hand to make his own raise, your King/10 has become quite weak. Chances are, he raised with a better hand than yours. Besides, the last two players or the blinds might still turn out to have something good.

Now for your own sake, face up to this grim bit of poker truth: "If your hand is second or third best going in, that's where it's likely to finish." In light of the latest developments, fold right now and save your money.

When wouldn't you fold in this type of situation? Ninety percent of the time, you'd need to have a good enough hand to re-raise the raiser in order to play. For example, if you had 10/10 (minimum) instead of King/10, you should turn up the heat and try to force everybody else out of the pot. Then hope an "overcard" (card higher than 10) doesn't come on the flop. But even then, because of the betting position, your opponent will have to act first throughout the hand.

That other 10% of the time when you could just call his raise might be if you have something like Ace/King suited. With a hand like that, you don't really have much until you see the flop, but if you connect, you won't mind that some other players are in there with you.

Casino poker is different from social poker in many ways, and this was just one of them. Social poker is viewed as a group sport where everybody participates equally, and the lucky one takes the pot. Live casino poker is a "sniffing out" foxhunt right from the very first card. Analyzing each bet and raise, you try to determine as early as possible where you stand, then either take charge or retreat to the foxhole until the next hand.

By paying attention and using deductive reasoning, you can learn to "read" the situation with surprising accuracy – but – you have to be looking for the answers. Only then, can you become a winner at casino poker.

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