Pre-Flop Raises

February 19, 2010 |

Pre-flop action can come in many forms, and when you are playing No-Limit Hold’em the different types of plays increase. When playing No-Limit Hold’em players can use the minimum raise, 2.5x the big blind, the standard raise (3x), 4x the big blind, move all in, or really anything in between. This isn’t the case for limit games so it does make the pre-flop play in No-Limit Hold’em a little more complicated. I often read articles from professional poker players who all have their own way of judging what a proper pre-flop raise would be. I have read articles from pros that say to keep your pre-flop raise the same throughout a tournament, but I also read articles where pros say it’s smart to mix up the raises (min raise, 3x, 2.5x). When deciding it should depend on your position and chip stack at the moment of action.

It’s tough to argue both methods, because they both have their strong points. By not switching up your raises you are not giving any information out to your opponents. It’s tough for them to put you on a hand, because you are raising the same amount whether you have AA or 10 9. This is an effective way to play as long as you are not becoming too predictable to your opponents. Even though you are raising the same amount pre-flop they can still judge whether or not if you are being over aggressive. Nonetheless by raising the same amount, say 3x every hand, you are keeping your opponents guessing of whether or not you have a quality hand. Now let’s take a look at situations where switching up your raises can help and hurt your game.

By changing your pre-flop raises every hand you are either confusing your competition or you are letting them know what you have. Let’s say that you are raising your quality starting hands by 3x and then 4x the big blind when you are raising with mediocre to weak hands. Though you are mixing up your pre-flop raise you are telling the table what type of hands you are raising with. Good players will be able to pick up this tell. Every time you make a 3x raise players will know you have a quality hand and then vice versa when you make a 4x raise. It becomes too predictable. The best way to mix up your play is to vary your pre-flop raises. If you are holding a quality hand then use the 2.5x raise, the 3x raise, the min raise, or whatever the raise the may be. The same would go for weaker starting hands. Mix up the pre-flop raises so you can leave your opponents guessing, and if they are guessing then you have them right where you want them.

Whether or not you prefer the mixing it up or keeping it the same; the idea is not too become predictable to your opponents. If you are too predictable then you really don’t stand a chance. Give both methods a try to see what works best for you, and you may find out that both can be used very effectively. Also pay attention to your chip stack and of course your position on the table. Pre-flop decisions can ultimately decide your fate in a poker tournament so make those decisions wisely. Good luck at the tables my friends.

Craig Fleck

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