playing poker

Tip 14 Bad idea

When you raise from the big blind, you are doing so for one reason only to get more money into the pot.  You won’t eliminate players, as everyone who has called one bet will surely call another.  Also, you will be out of position throughout the play of the hand, which negates some of your hand’s merit, because you won’t be able to bet as many decent hands for value* from early position.  As a result, it is probably best to raise only with absolute premium hands from the big blind.  Against several limpers, only A-A and K-K are true raising hands.  While it is okay to raise with AK suited, you should be prepared to check and fold if you don’t flop either a pair or a flush draw.

  Against only one or two limpers, you can raise with a few additional hands, such as Q-Q, J-J, and A-K.  The reason for this is that with only a few opponents, your big pair is more likely to hold up if one ovrercard flops, and your raise gives you the lead in the pot.  For example, suppose you have Q-Q in a three-way pot, and choose not to raise.  Now, the flop is K-9-7.  If you check, the next player is likely to bet regardless of whether he has a king, as he is attempting to win the pot based on the weakness indicated by your check.  You are now in a position of uncertainty, which could have been avoided had you raised preflop and then bet on the flop.

  The same goes for raising with A-K in a three-way pot.  Had you just passed your big blind option and seen a flop of 2-7-8, your first inclination would likely be to check.  By raising before the flop, though, you have built a pot worth taking a stab at with a bet.  If your opponents don’t flop a pair, they will be hard-pressed to call you.  Recommending not to raise with Q-Q from the big blind when several players have limped in may seem to contradict the advice given in Tip 13 about getting money into the pot with the best hand whenever possible, but this is not necessarily so.  All you are doing is delaying the moment at which you choose to increase your involvement.  With four or five limpers, it is fairly safe to assume that one opponent holds flop before deciding if you wish to make a major commitment to this pot?  After all, you are not in a position to protect your hand, as all the A-x and K-T hands are already in, and they will see the flop.  Now, if the flop brings overcards, you can check and try to determine if your hand is beaten based on the action behind you.  However, if you catch a nice flop such as 2-4-T, you are in a position to take your opponents by surprise.  You can either bet out or go for a check-raise, but either way you may win additional bets because your opponents have misjudged the strength of your hand due to your failure to raise preflop.  So, you should be able to recoup those bets that would have been in the pot had you raised, and you can save money those times your pair is outdrawn by overcards on the flop.  When you have an opportunity to play a hand in a manner that limits your losses but not your wins, you should capitalize on it.