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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Poker Tells: When a Player Unexpectedly Bets

13 April 2003

The other day I was playing some 7 Stud Hi/Lo Split - 8 or Better. A deuce brought it in and a queen immediately raised, signifying a probable pair of queens. A player showing a 6 called, and then it came to me with an ace up. I looked down to find another ace with a 9 kicker in the hole and re-raised.

Three of us went to fourth street where the queen bought a 9, the 6 caught a 5 and I hooked a 5 also. The queen/9 checked, as did the 6/5 and I bet. Both players called. Now on fifth street the situation looked like this:

Opponent #1 Opponent #2 My Hand
?-? / Q - 9 - 7 ?-? / 6 - 5 - 6 A-9 / A - 5 - J

The pair of 6s was now high on board and checked. I wasn't too thrilled with my hand any more and decided to take a free card by checking along, since the Q/9/7 would surely check behind me -- but no! Unexpectedly, the Q/9/7 tossed a bet into the pot.

We all called and went to sixth street. There, the Q/9/7 made an open pair of 7s, and bet right into a 6/5/6/2 and my own A/5/J/9. The low board merely called and I trailed in with my newly improved aces and 9s.

At the river, the Q/9/7/7 bet out, the 6/5/6/2 surprisingly folded and I called, still with aces up. The bettor turned over 7s full of queens and I humbly said, "Take it down."

So did I get outdrawn in the hand? Yes, I did, but that works both ways in poker. Did I make any mistakes? Yes -- a big one. Exactly where did I go wrong? I failed to heed a simple read on fifth street! You see, when a Q/9/7 could just check right along on fifth street, but bets right into a 6/5/6 and an A/5/J who represented aces from the get go, there's little question that the 7 paired him. Since he came into the hand raising with a queen up, he probably now has queens and 7s. It might be okay to call with just two aces on fifth street, but when he makes open 7s on sixth, it's just too likely I'm up against a full house -- especially when he bet into a scary looking 6/5/6/2. My correct play was to fold my aces and 9s on sixth street and save the last two bets.

I'm reliving this poorly played hand in public print to emphasize to you an important "read" that presents itself over and over at the poker table. Every once in a while during a hand, a player will make an unexpected bet out of the blue that takes you somewhat by surprise. When he does that, you should realize that his last card hit him -- almost for sure! Here's another generic example.

Let's say you're in a high only Stud hand and came in raising with a pair of split jacks. Two players call you to fifth street where the board now looks like this:

Your Hand Opponent #1 Opponent # 2
7-J / J-4-6 ?-? / 7-2-A ?-? / 8-3-Q

The ace has fallen high on board, but he checks. You're planning to bet when it gets to you -- when suddenly the queen bets in front of you! Well you know what? The queen paired him!

That may seem too simple, but if the card doesn't fit into any straight or flush schemes, a straight-forward player will have paired that queen in a high majority of cases! You're probably against queens up. Release it and save two or three top bets! Then watch intently as the hole cards are turned over at the river. You won't be wrong very often.

These kinds of tip-offs can come in various forms. You might be heads up in the hand all the way to sixth street, where your lone opponent makes:

?-? / 8-3-A-Q

If he checked and called when he caught the ace on fifth, then bet when he caught the queen on sixth, he most likely paired the queen -- or already had you beat! His reason for not trying to check/raise would be that you might not bet, now that two overcards have fallen in his hand. About the only way you'd still have the best hand here would be if he's thinking at a level where he's actually hoping you'll throw your hand away. A shifty player might do that if he has say, buried 9s. That'll be up to you to judge -- but if you never believe, you'll never make a good laydown.

There are lots of similar examples in all forms of poker and when they come up, you must alertly make this basic read. That is, unless you don't mind calling to the end with the worst hand, the way I did in the example at the beginning of this article.

Poker Tells: When a Player Unexpectedly Bets 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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> 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