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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Poker Is a Game of Intimidation and Respect

18 July 2008

I know you. You're a regular poker buff. When you play poker, you study the cards, you analyze the players and figure your odds. Nevertheless, you're probably not the best player at the table each time you play. There will almost always be people who can outplay you – and people you can outplay.

Remember that, theoretically, the cards are supposed to break even for everybody in the long run. That's all you can expect. Your personal mission, however, is to turn a net profit with merely average cards – an interesting challenge. There are three basic ways to do that, and you'll probably have to do all of them to succeed. They are:

  1. Save bets with your losing hands.
  2. Win extra bets with your winning hands.
  3. Win an occasional pot with cards that don't deserve it.

Number one is just good basic poker. The earlier you can read when you're beat and you get out, the better off your chip stack will be. A good example might be when you have pocket Kings in Hold'em and an Ace comes on the flop, followed by vigorous betting.

Numbers two and three, however, are more delicate challenges. This is where your poker strategy turns psychological. At every table, one of the first things you should do is objectively evaluate where you rank in this particular lineup of players. That is, who are you going to win money from – and who do you merely not want to lose any to?

That's an important distinction to make. If you find yourself in a pot with somebody you respect – in fact admire - he's probably the better player. To do battle with him, you're going to need a very good hand because he'll play his hand better than you'll play yours. He'll read your hand better than you'll read his. You can't afford to get fancy with him because he'll see through your play. If the two of you both had equal cards against each other for the night, he'd take your money.

What's the answer to that dilemma? Don't go up against him with anything but your best hands. Your goal is simply to not lose money to this player today. Him, you must respect.

You should play all superior players very honestly. You take premium starting hands up against them because you'll probably be giving up an edge in the play of the hand. Starting out in front will be the only edge you'll ever have on them. You keep from losing money to players better than yourself by not giving them equal footing.

As for players you honestly believe you can outplay, save your fancier moves for them. They're the ones you should go for the check-raise against. It's them that you might attempt to intimidate into folding if you suspect they're weak. In short, only try to outplay players you can outplay. Intimidate them and cause confusion in their minds.

It's vital to have some players at the table who you know you can outplay, or you don't even belong there in the first place. Remember the old poker adage, "If you don't see any suckers at your table – you're it!"

How can you tell who's who? Did you ever get the feeling with some players that you're sitting two feet above them and can just tell "where they're at" most of the time? These are the ones you zone in on. These are the ones who will keep chasing you when a better player would've realized he was beaten.

On the other hand, "two feet below" is how you appear to some others. You may not be aware of it, but they can anticipate many of your moves in advance. With these toughies, just study them diligently from the sidelines every pot they're in, and learn how they do the things that make them so tough. That's how you move up the poker food chain.

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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey