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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

The Biggest Mistake in Poker

15 August 2002

The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of the latest in the "Scoblete Get the Edge Guide" series -- 77 Ways to get the Edge at Casino Poker, by Fred Renzey.

Poker is a "skill" game.

That's an understatement! There's a higher degree of skill involved in live poker than in any other casino game. At every poker table, there's a best player and a worst player. In fact, there's an old poker adage that says, "After playing your first few hands, take a look around the table and try to pick out the sucker. If you don't see any, it's you!" That's because a "ringer" in a weak game can be the "sucker" in a lineup of strong players -- it's all relative.

But what is it that separates a good poker player from a bad one? There so many factors -- 77 of which will be presented in detail on the pages of this book. However, none can be more important than understanding Concept #1. Fix your eyes on the caption below and never forget it:

Concept #1
"PLAYING TOO MANY HANDS"

Without question, the most common mistake losing poker players make is playing out too many of the hands they're dealt. You may be a cunning poker maven from the first bet to the river card -- but if you don't pick your starting hands carefully, you'll be giving up more ground coming out of the gate than you can make up going around the far turn. Why is this so? There are two very important reasons:

  1. Many hands are dealt, but only one can win the pot.
  2. The best hand going in is more likely to be best coming out.

So what does it mean? It means you must throw away all but your better starting hands -- right now! To illustrate this principle, let me use 7 Card Stud as an example.

Before any cards are dealt, each of the eight players is a 7 to 1 underdog to win that next pot. But right after the three-card starting hands come out, all the odds get readjusted! Somebody, whoever it might be, is going to have the lead hand -- like maybe a pair of Jacks. Somebody else is likely to have something like a pair of 7s with a King kicker. And another player might have a 3-flush such as the 6/10/Q of clubs. The rest of the players will all usually have less. Suddenly, instead of being a 7 to 1 shot, the three better hands all improve to 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 each. Everybody else becomes a longshot, some as high as 15-to-1!

If you have one of the weaker hands, it's silly to start matching the leaders dollar for dollar when they'll end up winning that particular pot much more often than you will. Just fold and wait for a better hand with a better shot at the money. It's the same story with Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, or any other poker variant you can name. Solid starting hands are the first and biggest key to playing winning poker.

Exactly which starting hands should be played in which situations depend upon many things -- but a general rule of thumb is that you should be throwing away about 75% of all your hands without calling the first bet. And many of the other 25% you'll fold at some point before the hand is over when things begin to go sour. Remember, in poker there's nothing more expensive than finishing second.

Without a firm, pre-conceived game plan for which kinds of starting hands you're looking for when you play poker, you'll undoubtedly be putting money into the pot irresponsibly. So without going into specifics, the next time you peek at your starting hole cards and are inclined to call a bet, stop and ask yourself, "Is this hand in the bottom 30 or 40% of all those that I would normally play? If the answer comes back "yes" -- toss it right into the muck! A little further on in this manual, we will detail and enumerate playable staring hands for all the popular casino live poker games.

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