Raising To Make Rivals Drive Out

When you raising in poker to get people out, the thing you are doing is raising to cut short their odds. Perhaps, you may even cut their odds so sternly that you hope they will call rather than fold after you raise.

To cut short a person's odds means reducing the amount of money he can win per dollar invested. Suppose, if someone bets $10 with $100 in the pot and you call $10, and the player behind you gets 12-to-1 odds on a call. But suppose you raise the initial bettor, making it $120 for the player behind you to call. Now, instead of $120 there is $130 in the pot but the player behind you should invest twice as much - $20 - for a chance to win it. You have cut his odds in half - from $120-to-$10 to $130-to-$20, or from 12-to-1 to 6 ½ -to-1. By doing so, you have build a situation where the player may make a mistake, according to the Fundamental Theorem of play poker, either by calling or folding. When he folds correctly after you raise because he is getting not enough pot odds to call a double bet, you surely prefer that to his calling an unraised bet correctly and proceeding to outdraw you and win the pot.

Raising to Cut Down Rivals' Odds

To exemplify this essential point, we will explain a hand from five card in poker. The player to your right has nothing, the player to your left has two pair and you have a pat flush. For the purposes of this exemplification, we will assume you know exactly what both rival have. We also assume the betting limit is $10 but that somehow a $100 has been created before betting gets into the way. With the cards out, the chances of the two pair improving to a full house are 9-to-1 against. However, the player behind you will improve to the best hand with an average of one out of ten times.

Having nothing, the player to your right bets $10 trying to steal that big pot. You know this player will fold immediately if you raise and you are pretty sure the player behind you will fold too. However, if you call the $10, the player behind you will also call. As a result, you may win $120 plus another bet at the end if you call, whereas if you raise, you will have to make with the $110 already in the pot. Should you call or raise?

The answer to this is that you should raise but we can look at the problem rationally. The rival with two pair is a 9-to-1 underdog. There is $120 in the pot if you call. He will get 12-to-1 from the pot for his call when the odds against his making the best hand are only 9-to-1. So, if you call and he calls behind you, he is making the correct play, the play with positive expectation. He will lose $10 in nine hands out of ten on an average, for a loss of $90 but he will win $120 in one hand out of ten for a net profit of $30. He gains on the play, and according to the poker fundamental theorem , any time your rival gains, you yourself cost money.

However, when you raise, making it $20 for the two pair to call, you cut that player's pot odds from $120-to-$10, or 12-to-1, to $130-to-$20, or 6 ½-to-1. As the two pair is a underdog and gets only 6 ½-to-1 from the pot, you have made it correct for the two pair to fold. If he plays correctly and does fold, you would do better, as we shall see presently, than if you had played not correctly and permit him enough odds for a call. On the contrary, if the two pair plays incorrectly and calls after you raise, you would do best of all, because when your rival makes a mistake, you gain. What your raise would do to reduce correct odds for a call into incorrect odds for a call. The peculiar effect of this is that though, you raise to drive the two pair out, you are forcing him to call after you raise.

To verify this point, let's look what happens over ten average hands if:

• You call, and the two pair calls behind you.

• You raise, and the two pair folds.

• You raise, and the two pair calls your raise.

If you call and the two pair calls, you will win nine out of ten hands. Presuming you check after the draw and do not pay your rival off one time he makes a full house, you can win $120 (the $110 already in the pot - not involving your own $10 call - plus the two pair's $10 call) nine times for net sum of $1080 and you can lose $10 once. Your net gain is $1070.

If you raise and the two pair folds, you will win all the ten hands; which is $110 per hand that comes to a sum of $1100. You win $30 more than you would if he called and the two pair overcalled.

If you raise and the two pair calls, you win $130 (the $110 already in the pot plus the two pair's $20 call of a double bet) nine times for a total of $1170 and lose $20 once for a net profit of $1150. You win $80 more than you do when you call and the two pair overcalls and $50 more than when you raise and your rival folds.

Accepting $1100 as the standard (as both you and your rival play correctly in that case) we may say you lose $30 over ten hands or $3 per hand when you play incorrectly and just call; and you win $50 over ten hands or $5 per hand when your rival plays incorrectly, and calls your raise. To recap, when you raise to drive people out, you raise to cut down their odds. If they fold, you cut their odds to a point where you are forcing for them to call after you raise. In no-limit texas holdem games you can control the odds you are giving your rivals by the amount you bet, and you normally find yourself forcing for them to call your raise even if you would be forcing for them to fold if you had just called.

However, it is correct to call as I did in the no-limit hold 'em hand of Chapter Three, when you know your rival will fold if you raise but can make a mistake by overcalling if he knew what your cards were. You want to give your rival every chance to make a mistake; as that mistake is your gain even if he happens to get lucky and win an individual hand because of that mistake. In poker since in any game of skill with a bit of chance, you cannot play results. That means, you may not ascertain the value of play because of the way it works out in a particular case. For example, in backgammon, it's likely for a player to make a mistake or many mistakes that results in a worse position from which he can extract himself only by making a double six. The odds against making a double six are 35-to-1. If the worse player happens to make a double six and win, you may not say he played the game correctly or can say a person who has put his money on number 20 on the roulette layout plays correctly when luckily the number 20 happens to come up. Both players were just very fortunate.

To review this section, when you raise to drive people out, you are really cutting their odds. So just raise with what you think is the best hand only when rival is getting good sufficient odds to overcall or when you think your rival will call a double bet even if he hasn't call a single bet.

Raising to Bluff or Semi-Bluff

Raising as a pure bluff with a hand that has no chance of winning if called is a tricky play, too risky to try often. It is generally done only when there are no more cards to come, often when you did not make the hand you are expecting to make but are trying to persuade your rival you did. Assuming your rival has a suitable hand to bet with you and is unwilling to throw it away when you raise. In limit poker, raising as a pure bluff can work out often enough to be beneficial only against a very rigid player who is capable of making super-rigid folds. The poor the player, the more he is to call your raise with any kind of hand.

Pure bluff raises are very important aspect of no-limit poker. Perhaps, some world-class no-limit players, like 1982 poker champion Jack Straus, are renowned for their ability to bluff raise successfully. On the other hand, the fact that bluff raises are more important in no-limit than in limit does not make them any less difficult or tricky to use; it makes them more expensive when they are distorted. (Look Chapter Eighteen and Nineteen for more explanation to bluff raises and bluffing in common.)

The semi-bluff raise is more essential and often used aspect of a good poker player's arsenal. With the pure bluff, you make a semi-bluff raise in an expectation to win the pot, but in comparison to the pure bluff, you always semi-bluff with more cards to come and with a hand that can improve, hence there is a fair chance you will outdraw your rival and win the pot when you are called.

As discussed in last chapter, the semi-bluff raise can be a good defense against someone who would be semi-bluffing. When you raise a probable semi-bluffer, the player will give away a semi-bluff hand. When he calls your raise, you can be sure enough that he is representing what he has. Hence, an additional advantage to your semi-bluff is that you have gained little information. Furthermore, your rival may be afraid of your best hand, and check to you on the next round, giving you the chance to take a free card.

However, you may not gain your basic goal when you raise - in this case, to make your rival fold a semi-bluff hand - you frequently gain secondary goals- like achieving information and getting a free card. Likewise, when you raise to give worse hands out but one of your rivals calls (and gets a proper odds for the call), you at least have achieved the secondary goal of getting more money in the pot that you think you are favorite to win.

Raising of Getting a Free Card

As noticed, when semi-bluff raise is called, it can permit you the chance of getting a free card on the next round. On the other hand, when you think particularly to raise of getting a free card, you should remember two considerations - the cost of the raise and your position.

To get a free card, you must be the last to perform. If you are not last and you check, you will show weakness. A player after you with the better hand than yours will possibly bet; refusing you the chance for a free card. You have the guarantee of your position in hold'em because it's fixed throughout the hand but in other games such as seven card stud and razz, you do not have any guarantee you will be last to perform from one round to the next round. For example, in seven card stud, the player to your left has king high to start the betting but on the next card either you or the player can chase an ace. Now, you must start off, which you surely do not want to do if you are setting on a free card. Hence, if you suspect of acquiring the last position on the next round, raising of getting a free card can cost you money unnecessarily when it turns out you are not last at all.

That takes up to the second consideration where you think of raising of getting a free card - specifically, that free card is not free at all. It costs you the price of your raise. So except you have the other reasons for raising, you can make the play only when the cost of raise is inexpensive than what you had to pay for a call on the next round. For example, in a $10- $20 hold 'em game, in which the bet doubles on the fourth street, you may raise $10 after the flop to prevent paying $20 to call a bet on the next round.

You certainly haven't taken the advantage of the free card option. You definitely wouldn't when you chase the card that makes your hand. Neither you would when you chase a card that seems as if it makes your hand. For instance, the online poker player holding a pair of blacks 7s with Q, J, 9 (spades) showing, a hand we explained in the earlier two chapters, perhaps knew he had the worst hands and may have taken a free card in expectation of making a flush, but he discovered it more profitable to continue the semi-bluff and bet after the 9 (spade) hit as only the rival with a very tough hand can risk a call.