Raising is a very strong move and can be a very wise play. There are two ways to win the pot, either have the best hand at the showdown, or make your opponent fold. Raising gives you an extra way of winning the pot. If you raise rather than just calling, you have a chance to win that pot there and then.
A pre-flop raise can help get rid of potential limpers from entering the pot. Say for example you look down and see suited connectors. A raise pre-flop can potentially clear out any players holding 6 4 u, 10 5 u and other such hands. You will be surprised the number of players that like to limp in with any two cards in the hope of hitting something monster on the flop. A pre-flop raise will give them an incentive to fold but it is not always guaranteed they will.
It is important to vary the amount you raise, especially pre-flop to keep them guessing what you are holding, sometimes three times the big blind sometimes five times.
Your raise should be proportional to the size of the current blinds at the table. If blinds are at 20/40, then a small raise of another 40 to go is not going to scare many people off and you could be up against a large field of players with marginal pre-flop hands. Suddenly your opponents 3 9 u doesnt look too bad if they hit their dream flop of 9 9 3. A raise of three times the BB is usually enough to show your opponents you have a strong hand and to scare off hands such as 3 9 u.
You should keep your poker opponents guessing about what you are raising with, and what you flat call with, by mixing it up. You should raise around 80% of the time and flat call the other 20% – how do you remember what you last did?! You don’t. Just use the random number generator that we all have on our wrists. 80% and 20% ratio down to 48 and 12 in terms of 60 seconds – so a quick glance down to your watch will tell you all you need to know. If the second hand says 48 or more then flat call if it says 0-47 then raise. Simple yet effective.
You can use the raise to gain information about what your opponent may be holding. If you have flopped middle pair and put in a reasonable raise, anyone that raises you back is likely to be holding top pair, two pair or trips. In either case, their hand may be beating yours, gauge the player and look for tells to see where you stand.
Seating position is important when considering raising, especially in multi-way pots. You have to be aware of where the aggressive players are in a hand and be prepared to be re-raised if an aggressive player is to your left. On the other hand, if you know there are weak players to act after you, apply the pressure and crank it up to make them fold marginal hands.
As the name suggests, the move involves checking in front of an opponent in the hope that one (or more) of them makes a bet. When the action gets back to you, you raise. Its generally a good idea to be holding a very strong hand when you do, as many players like to call down check-raisers just to see, and the increased money in the pot can sometimes create situations where it becomes correct for your opponents to call with all kinds of crazy draws.
There are a number of online poker sites out there that will allow you to have the option of showing your hand if you have won the pot before the show down. The following tip applies for live tables as well as online play.
I really wanted to mix up my tight-agressive game a bit so after a while when the blinds were worth stealing I would crank up the pot with rags under the gun. This instantly gave me an aggressive table image especially since I had been playing conservatively for the first half of the game.
A standard 3x or even 5x BB raise was enough to entice the other players to fold. I would then choose the “show hand” button to proudly announce my stonecoldbluff with 7 2 off-suit.
But why would I do such a thing? Surely keeping your cards quiet is the best tactic?
Maybe so, but I find that showing you are bluffing helps you to get some action next time you have a genuine hand. Sure enough I was lucky to be dealt AKs, cranked it up to a standard 3x raise and got a lot of callers. I scooped down a monster pot and went on to win the tourney.
This tactic also works well if you are trying to put other players on tilt. If for example you have just fired the third bullet in a monster bluff against the medium stack, nothing is going to wind them up more than knowing their pocket sevens were good after all. It’s enough to put them on tilt and to start playing a few more marginal hands. Its then only a matter of time before you take them out of the game by playing sensible pot odds.
One of the most important parts of the game is to put your opponent on a hand. You must decide at the start of the game if you are going to turn over weak cards, or turn over strong cards. If others players at the table consistently see you flipping up AJ, AQ, KK, etc they know you are only going to be playing premium hands. If you consistently flip over 2T, 72, Q4 then you are letting people know you appear to be playing almost anything. What you DO NOT want to do is to flip over a mixture of strong and weak hands because then you are not projecting any kind of table image at all.
It is important that any pre-flop raise you open with is consistent too. If you opened with a 3x BB rasie before, do the same again, even if you have AA. You really want to disguise your cards as much as possible in order to fool your opponents.
If you decide to show only premium hands, then play a little looser on the cards you dont show. If you decide to show only rags, then tighten up once in a while to keep your opponents guessing and then trap them with a monster.
If you do decide to show a few bluffs though, be prepared to be raised up almost every hand and expect people to try and nick your blinds. Hopefuly though, this time you will have a genuine hand and they will be betting into a monster!
Decide on a table image to portray, then play the opposite way around. Next game, switch it around and project the opposite image to keep your opponents guessing.
If a single player, who you know will limp in (or even raise) with all kinds of less-than playable hands, has entered the pot, and you estimate that a raise (or even a reraise) has a good chance of knocking out all of the players behind you, it’s often a good idea to fire away with any better-than-average hand. If it works, you’ll find yourself heads-up against the weak player with advantageous position throughout.
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