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The Importance of Pre-Flop Raise

April 14, 2009

This post is to share my experience about the importance of pre-flop raises with all the fellow amateurs out there who have been portraying a tight table image playing just one 1 out of every 50 hands as well as those who always have their hands tied up after encountering consistent aggressive pre-flop raises. As important as it is, if you do it wrongly you can be in deep shit. I am not going to talk about the art of pre-flop raising as i am still trying to figure it out, but more of telling you the rationale behind it.

Have you ever been dealt an pocket Aces only to be beaten by a 38offsuit which hit a straight on a river with a lowly 3? This is known as a suck out or a bad beat which happens on a regular basis. Bad luck? Perhaps. Can this situation be avoided? To a certain extent, yes. How? Pre-flop Raises. Imagine you are the big blind on a 10/20 table dealt with 38 off suit, everyone folded to the small blind who makes a smooth call. Even if he does a minimum raise, seeing the flop will not be too expensive and thus giving you a mathematical chance of winning. However, if the SB puts in a 4xBB pre-flop raise, will you still call? what is the best possible hand that can be made from 38offsuit? 88 will almost certainly not be enough to be the top pair. Straight? Will you bet the on the board to give you 4 cards to complete your straight? Not probable. So the only viable option is to fold. Now that you have put yourself through the underdog’s shoe, i guess you will be able to appreciate pre-flop raises with a premium hand.

Besides trying to eliminate bad beats, the other reason i feel pre-flop raises is to get information out of everyone. Not everyone will risk their money on nonsense hands(even though some will), pre-flop raising helps you eliminate nonsense hands and thus you can assume that they are holding at least 1 premium card. Most of the time, it is not enough to know what hands you have, you have to know what hands your opponents have. If you are holding a KK and puts in a pre-flop raise of 4xBB which your opponent calls. Flop turns out A46rainbow and your opponent does a pot-level bet or raise. What will you do? Call or fold? I will fold as my KK has lost its value due to the Ace on board. Moreover, the opponent called my pre-flop raises means that he has a playable hands. Can it be a bluff? Well..maybe it is, but for someone to call a big raise, they may have pocket pairs and even Aces. Continue pushing and you will put your whole stack at risk by placing too much confident on your pocket Kings. However, if you fold to your opponent’s bluff, you will forego a small portion of your stack and can wait for a better chance again. In this case, pre-flop raising increase your knowledge of your opponents’ holdings, thus improving your decision-making.

Putting a pre-flop raise can put you in good position for a bluff, but this requires a little more skill. By raising pre-flop, you are announcing to your table that you are holding a premium hand. If a King hits the flop and you place another fairly big bet, your opponents will start thinking that you have hit a top King pair and possibly with a strong kicker. Even if you are holding a suited 23, they may not want to risk waiting for Aces. In this case, you will have made a winning hand out of just a lowly suited 23. Having said that, this requires knowledge of your opponents as well as your sitting position.

Undeniably, pre-flop raise has many advantages. However, these advantages will come to nothing without a little skill and position in play. You may play around with pre-flop raise to find the suitable level that will chase out nonsense hands after knowing the playing style of your opponents. I am sure after you get a hang of pre-flop raises, the table will be there for you to own.

One Comment leave one →
  1. pocketbullets permalink*
    April 14, 2009 4:07 am

    Good post, bro. Yes, preflop raises are great, until you meet the maniacs like Gus Hansen, Dragomir (in the video I posted earlier, against Phil Hellmuth), and Mah! Haha ;p

    It’s a fine line to walk, balancing between raising big to get rid of the fishes with garbage hands, and smooth calling or raising just a little with your top pocket pair to try to suck more people into the pot.

    Call it science, or call it art, there is no denying this is why poker is a beautiful game.

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