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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Texas Hold'em is not a draw-out poker game

3 March 2007

Once the flop hits the board in Hold'em, the leading hand holds up and wins the pot more often than in just about any other form of poker. So if you don't flop the best hand, you probably don't belong in the pot any more (with a few exceptions to be discussed later).

It's critical to realize this fact if you're going to be a Hold'em player. When you're playing Omaha or 7 Card Stud, lots of hands have a decent chance to come from behind and "draw out" on a better hand – but not usually in Hold'em. There just aren't enough cards in this game. Here's a common example:

YOUOPPONENTFLOP
Qd-QhAc-JsAs-9d-5h

You had a beautiful hand on the initial deal, but that Ace on the flop just murdered you. How much chance do you think you have to win the pot now? You're a 10-to-1 underdog. That's right. You need to hit a Queen to win -- period. That gives you only two "outs" in the deck -- the two remaining Queens. So if you realize that this is the position you're in – get out!

When you have a "pocket pair" and somebody flops a higher pair, that's when a good hand becomes the biggest underdog, because it has to hit one of its pair cards to win. Now here's a somewhat less severe example:

YOUOPPONENTFLOP
As-10hKc-JdJh-10c-3d

This time, your second best pair is only a 4-to-1 underdog. The reason is besides having two 10s to hit, three other Aces would make you "Aces up". So here, you have five basic outs to probably win the hand with. Now you're not nearly as handcuffed as being outpaired when you hold a pocket pair – but you'd need to get in cheap and there'd have to be some money in the pot to keep on playing.

So when you flop the second best pair in Hold'em, you're usually anywhere from a 4-to-1 to a 10-to-1 underdog to make the best hand at the river. That's a lot worse than in good old 7 Card Stud, where a starting pair of Jacks would be only a 2-to-1 underdog against a starting pair of Aces. In Omaha poker for that matter, you will often flop the best possible straight with no flushes or full houses yet possible - and still be an underdog to win the pot. Now there's a "draw-out" game for you.

Okay, what about those "exceptions" mentioned earlier where you still belong in the hand even though you know you're behind? Take a look at this situation:

YOUOPPONENTFLOP
10c-JdAs-Ah8h-9s-2d

Here, your open-end straight draw is only about a 2-to-1 underdog to run down those "pocket rockets". That's because this time, eight outs (four 7s and four Queens) will make your hand. And what if you flopped this next hand?

YOUOPPONENTFLOP
Ks-JsAh-QcAs-7s-2s

Now you're a little less than a 2-to-1 underdog to make the "nut" (highest possible) flush with one of the nine remaining spades. All these examples were given to illustrate that when you don't have the best hand on the flop in Hold'em, you're pretty far behind unless you have a 4-flush or an open end straight draw. The moral is that while "drawing" hands are usually worth continuing with, "underpairs" are usually not. It's fairly straightforward.

This is one of the reasons why Hold'em poker strategy is a bit more cut-and-dried than most other poker games, and you can learn it more quickly and systematically. The flip side is, so can your opponents.

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:

> More Books By Fred Renzey