Why to Raise in Poker
THERE ARE 5 MAJOR REASONS TO RAISE:
- To get more money from your hand.
- To eliminate players.
- To get a “Free” card.
- To gain information.
- To bluff or semi-bluff
1. To get more money from your hand.
This is the simplest reason to raise a pot. Basically when you feel that you have the best had you are going to raise to try to get more money in the pot. If you have the “Nuts”, the best hand possible at the time this is the only reason you should raise. Sometimes you may not want to raise in this case. You may want to slow play the hand.
2. To eliminate players.
This is a pretty simple concept as well. This is the reason you raise with AA or KK. You want to get people out before they can see the flop. AA and KK do very well against a few people but against a lot of people there’s a good chance you will loose after all 5 cards come out. Another time when you might raise to eliminate players is when you flop top pair, example: You hold AK and the flop comes 9 10 K, You now have top pair with the best kicker. Here you would want to get people out of the hand so they don’t make 2 pair, a straight, or a flush.
3. To get a “Free” card.
Well you don’t get it for free but it costs you less. You would raise to get a free card if you flop and open ended straight draw or flush draw and were in a later position. See if you were playing 3-6 and you raised on the flop you would put an extra 3 dollars but in most cases the other player or players will check to you assuming you have a better hand. This saves you from calling a 6 dollar bet on the turn, instead you get it for free. You might also want to raise the flop in late position when you have top pair and a weak kicker or mid pair with a good kicker.
4. To gain information.
This is a more complex reason to raise. This move works best on or before the flop. Before the flop you don’t know anything about a players hand other than it could be anything but if you raise and a player re-raises then you know he has a good hand. Most likely a hand in Group #1 or maybe #2. If he just calls you know that he probably doesn’t have a “monster” hand. Now lest say after the flop you have a pair of aces with a 7 kicker, and your opponent bets into you. Now if you call you couldn’t really tell how big of a hand he has but if you raise him and he re-raises you are probably beat at least with a better kicker. This is a way to actually save money. If you called all the way down to see his AK then you have lost a lot more than you have to.
5. To bluff or semi-bluff.
We wont get into bluffing right now. You really wont need to do much bluffing in lower limit games. Most bluffing goes on in higher limit games, No-limit games, and no-limit tournaments. Semi-bluffing however is something you need to know about. Semi-bluffing is betting a hand that probably isn’t the best one at the time but can improve with more cards. The real goal to semi-bluffing is to win the pot right then and there. So you only want to semi- bluff when there are only a few player in the pot, you think you everyone might fold after you bet or raise, and you are very sure that no one will check raise you. There are many opportunities to semi-bluff in every game, most of the time they are not the right move though. Remember to semi-bluff accordingly.
If you look back at all the reasons to raise you will see that a lot of the times when you raise you might accomplish more than one goal. You might raise to get a free card but also gain information and get more money in the pot. Its good to have a specific reason or two in your mind before every raise, this way you wont be raising just for the sake of raising.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON RAISING
Next few times you play poker online have a notebook right in front of you. Every time you make a raise write down what the main reason for raising was. Then write down if it was successful or not. After you have about 25 entry’s for each of the 5 reasons look through your records and find out what reasons for raising had the most positive results. This will help you decide when you should raise or not.
It is a good idea to do this activity every so often. It will help you keep on your game and raise at the right times.