So, the idea is to get the most out of them by making bets that extract money from opponents without putting yourself in a position to get outdrawn.
David Grey, a respected pro who reached the final table of the 2003 World Series of Poker main event, maintained that balance nicely in a hand at the $25,000-buy-in World Poker Tour Championship at Las Vegas' Bellagio earlier this year.
With blinds at $100-$200, Grey drew the ace of spades and the ace of clubs in early position and raised to $700. A player a couple of seats to his left called. The flop came A-9-8, giving Grey a set of aces.
Some players might check to slow-play such a big hand, but Grey bet out $1,500.
“In general,” says Grey, who represents FullTiltPoker.net, “when you raise in early position [pre-flop] and an ace hits and you check, it's too fishy.
“I was hoping he flopped a set of 9's because he seemed pretty happy with the flop. I could tell he was happy. He quickly called me, and I know he doesn't have a hand like J-10. He can't have a draw in that position with too many players behind him [to have called a big pre-flop raise].”
The turn came the king of clubs. An A-K board makes it almost impossible for Grey's opponent to call with pocket queens or pocket jacks because he can't beat a pair of aces or kings, so Grey's chances of inducing a bluff by checking his set were small.
Instead, he tried to induce a bluff by firing out $3,000, a bet of about two-thirds of the pot. “I wanted to make a bet that looked like he might be able to run me off the pot if he had, say, aces and kings,” Grey says. “If he had A-K, believe me, he would've made a big raise there, and I would've made a big study and put in a pretty good raise, and he might've moved in on me.
“When he called, I knew he had an ace.”
The king put a second club out there, then the 6 of clubs on the river created a flush board. But Grey wasn't worried about that.
“I knew he couldn't have a flush because the flop came three different suits,” Grey says. “Plus, I had the ace of clubs, so he couldn't have ace suited in clubs, and he's not going to call me with something like Q-9 of clubs.
“On the river, I checked, hoping he would bet, and I was going to raise him. I knew my hand was good.”
But Grey's opponent was happy to check behind him, then mucked his cards when Grey flipped up his aces to take the pot.