Any self respecting poker player should have a good strategy on raising. Note that we said strategy. This is not something to be done in whim, when you’re “feeling lucky.” Nor should you be driven by misplaced ego to enter a race of who bets more-even when your competitor calls you a wimp-or be so cautious that you never raise at all.
There are many “myths” of raising. One is that it has to do with the stage of the hand you are currently in. That’s not true. You can do it before the flop, or wait until the turn or river. You can be very aggressive or you can be cautious and take a wait-and-see approach. It all depends on your strategy gaming slots.
Another myth that can destroy an otherwise good game is the belief that raising is necessary to make poker “exciting”. No. What makes poker such a great game is the strategy, and that includes knowing when to act and when to hold back. Don’t be chip happy, my friend, because it’s not smart poker to raise without good reason.
Many players also fall into the trap of becoming too predictable with their raises. This makes them vulnerable to strategic players who will use this habit to read their cards. For example, some players who will raise from early position with a hand like As-8s, thinking that as long as it’s a suited ace, it’s a powerhouse. Others will always raise when they’re in the early position if they have K-J or even Q-J. Some players always raise with Big Slick. Others never raise with aces, because it might leak information about their hand-what they don’t realize is that if they keep doing this, they are leaking information.
So what’s the point? Raising should not be a decision you make out of habit, emotion, or a desire to turn every game into a high-stakes race.
Here are the right reasons to raise …
First is to get more money into the pot, especially if you feel like you have a winning hand. After all, if you’re going to take this game, then you might as well secure a big profit from it. Adding a few chips on the pile will lure other players into doing the same thing, especially if you have been trying to distract everyone by making it appear that they have a stronger hand than you do.
You can also raise to eliminate other players. Let us say you’re holding a pair of queens. You are in fifth and no one has called the blinds. You know you have a better chance with your two queens if you had less opponents at the table. So raise. The rule of thumb is that if your hand plays better against less players, raise or reraise so you limit your opposition.
So go ahead – raise – but only if the situation calls for it. Like all other poker strategies you need to train yourself to identify opportunity and use whichever tools will improve your chances of winning.
Paul Graham is a poker enthusiast, a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant. You can visit his blog and sign up free to get blog updates by email, along with game winning tips, tested poker strategies, the latest poker news, free poker tools, additional resources, and a whole lot more!