When someone makes a raise preflop, it can be the first bet of the hand, in which case they are opening raising. Or, it can be after other players have already limped in.
Open Raising - can take place from a variety of positions at the table, and that says a lot about the reason behind the bet.
♠ Early Positon -
Obviously if a thinking player makes an open raise from Under The Gun, or UTG+1, they know that there are a lot of players behind them that still have a chance to act. That signals a strong hand.
It is worth taking a note on a player who raises in these early positions so you can learn if they will raise from here with nothing less than AA/KK, or if they'll raise with something as low as AJs, 99, or 76s.
♠ Middle Position - indicates a player may have a wider range of possible hands. They could have Aces, or they could have JTs.
It is not at all uncommon for players in this position to open the betting with a raise.
- A raise here at least gives the blinds the chance to fold out of the hand, something that a call does not accomplish.
- When done consistently, it helps disguise the strength of the opener's hand.
- It puts pressure on the players who have not acted yet, forcing them to cold call a raise in order to enter the pot.
For the player acting closest to the Cutoff seat, it may also allow them to "Buy the Button". By entering the pot with a raise, they may induce the Cutoff and the Button to fold, giving them position for the rest of the hand.
♠ The Cutoff and the Button - in case you're not familiar with the terms, the "Cutoff" is the seat to the right of the dealer (the dealer is said to be "On The Button" because he has that small dealer button in front of him).
He's called the Cutoff because he has a chance to cut off the dealer from . . . trying to Steal The Blinds.
If action is folded all the way around to the CO or the Dealer, an open raise here might induce the blinds to fold and win the hand before the flop. This is known as Stealing the Blinds, and is a poker weapon that successful players use.
Opinions vary on what percentage of the time a solid player should attempt to steal the blinds, but the 20-30% range draws little in the line of violent opposition.
Amount of the Raise - of course this varies from player to player and table to table. One standard is 3x the big blind + 1bb for every limper.
For example: In a $.50/$1 game, if you everyone folds to you, a raise of $3 is pretty standard. If one player limped ahead of you, a $4 raise is common.
The 2+2 preflop raise standard is 4xbb + 1bb per limper. Any number from 3-5xbb seems to have supporters.
Creating a Raised Pot - can be done for a variety of reasons:
- Obviously, a raise preflop might be enough to take down the blinds uncontested, even if the raise is from middle or early position.
- It may scare others from entering the pot behind you, giving you position for the rest of the hand.
- Raised pots grow much faster on later streets. This gives players a chance to win or lose more chips during the hand. Players may raise hands that are well disgused on many flops in order to win large pots when they do hit.
First Raise Plays
- there are at least two "plays" that players make involving the first raise preflop. They include . . .
♠ Punishing Limpers - which is something that a player in late position does when action comes to him, and everyone has either limped or folded.
For example: A player on the button (named Fred) may watch two players fold, and two limp before it's his turn to act. Now, there are 3.5 bets in the pot, and no one has made a bet that says "I feel strongly about my hand". Fred now enters the hand for a pot-sized raise, saying that he does feel strongly about his hand.
Often, the blinds and limpers will fold, and Fred wins the pot uncontested.
♠ Limp ReRaise - is a play that is done to counter players like Fred. If someone is habitually raising preflop with position, instead of raising a good hand, some players limp. Then, when Fred predictably raises, our Hero re-raises.
Now our Hero either takes down a larger pot preflop, or Fred calls and our Hero has a quality hand to play in a ReRaised pot.