Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of Fred Renzey

# Key Poker Concepts Must Be Understood to Win

9 November 2007

Poker is becoming as American as baseball and apple pie. New players are flooding to the card rooms in droves, wanting to test their poker savvy against the other gamblers. But if they don't understand and use some key poker concepts, they'll be making lots of bad decisions – which will cause their chips to evaporate at the table.

Following are some key concepts that must be understood and used in order to win at poker.

1) Best in, Best out – It should seem so logical, yet so many new players don't appear to recognize it. The best hand going in is the one most likely to be best coming out. If you have A/10 when your opponent's got A/K, and the two of you duel heads up to the river, he'll beat you 3 times out of 4. If you've got pocket 7's and he's got pocket Jacks, you'll lose 4 times out of 5. It's so important to try to have the best hand before the flop. Even when you're dealt a good hand, if the betting or raising tells you you're trailing, you should usually fold. Going uphill isn't the way to win at poker.

2) Pot Odds – Any bet can be a good or bad bet. It all depends upon the risk/reward ratio. In poker, your risk/reward ratio comes to you in the form of "pot odds". With any hand, there's a specific chance you'll win the pot, and specific odds you'll be paid on your money if you win. If the odds you'll be paid are higher than your odds against winning, your hand is worth a play. If they're lower, you should fold. Here's an example.

Suppose you're playing \$5/\$10 limit Hold'em. You've got 10/J in the hole and with one card to go, the board is:

Kd-Qh-4s-7c

The first player bets \$10 and the second player raises it to \$20. Any 9 or Ace on the river will make you a straight – the certain winner with that particular board. So should you pay \$20 to see the river card?

As always, that depends upon your pot odds. In poker, you can never say never -- and you can never say always. Now, the odds against making your straight are just about 5-to-1. The whole question is whether you'll be able to net more than 5-to-1 odds on your \$20 call if you hit your straight.

So the thing to do is quickly survey the size of the pot, add in an extra \$10 or \$20 probable profit on the river if you hit, and if that's more than \$100 (5-to-1), go ahead and call. If it's less, fold your open-end straight draw because you're not getting good enough pot odds.

3) Position – In flop-style poker, your betting order at the table is critical. If you're first to act right after the blinds (under-the-gun), you must decide what to do without knowing what the other 8 or 9 players are going to do. If you're last, you pretty much know whether it's going to be an expensive or a cheap pot, and how many opponents you're going to have. Early position is bad – late position is good.

To help see this, suppose you're "under-the-gun" in Hold'em and you've got K/10. You should fold because although it's a reasonable hand, somebody behind you could easily have better – and that person's going to raise. Remember, best in – best out.

Conversely, let's say you're way around the back with that same K/10. If somebody in front of you raised, you know your K/10 is probably no good and you can confidently fold. On the other hand, if everybody has folded all the way around to you, this is one of those pots where your K/10 is quite strong and is now a raising hand.

You never could've known this when you had that hand in an early seat. And remember, early position must act first all the way through the hand. That's why you must play very tight from early position, but you can play many more hands from late position.

Recent Articles
Best of 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
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