Should I raise pre flop?

If you are new to online poker or even if you have already played for a while, one action that is not obvious or not easy to implement is raising pre flop. But this is something all poker pros excel at. By knowing why you should raise before the flop, it will be easier to make it a second nature of yours. So here are five major reasons to raise pre flop.

Raising for value

The first reason is simply to get value. For example let us say that you have pocket rockets. This is a monster which is at least a 80% favorite against all hands in no-limit texas holdem. Statistically this hand is massively profitable compared to any other hand, even compared to KK. So you want the pot to be as large as possible. This is raising for value.

This is why in the ABC of poker, it is said that you mush raise pre flop with a strong tight range, such as {QQ+, AKs} from early position and something like {TT+, AQs+} from middle position. With such hands you want the pots to be larger and your (positive) expected value will rise.

Raising for isolation

This one is less obvious and goes beyond ABC poker. By raising an early limper or even a raiser before you, you want to play the hand heads-up. You hope that all the other players will fold and that the limper will call your bet from his unfavorable early position.

This type of tactic is particularly favored by strong players who have spotted a weak player at the table and who like to play hands heads-up with him, as they believe that they can outplay him post flop.

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Raising to steal the blinds

This is a classic reason to raise pre flop and some players make it their specialty.

If you are in the cutoff or in the button and no one has entered the pot yet, you are in what is called the stealing position. For simplicity let's say you are in the button. If one or both blinds call, they know that they will be out of position in the following 3 streets.

If the button raised, he meant that he will make continuation bets post flop. So the blinds will fold most hands, unless it is a strong hand. As they know they will have to commit more chips just to stay in the hand.

In particular in tournaments, some players steal the blinds from the button with any two cards. Doing it from the cutoff is slightly more risky as the button could call or even 3 bet. But generally speaking stealing the blinds is only done from the two late positions

Raising as a semi-bluff

This is an advanced strategy used to "mix up" your game.

A famous poker pro Tom "durrrr" Dwan uses this type of moves often.

The idea is to do this move with the best hands that you would normally throw away, such as Q8s. Reserve the real bad hands for pure bluffs. Do this move only on occasion. This is a semi-bluff as the hand should be strong enough that it can hit the flop hard.

Raising for deception

This is somewhat related to the previous case. Raise weaker hands to create deception by playing hands that are not supposed to be in your range.

Doyle Brunson was the first to write and favor this strategy. For example raise pre flop with 76s. If the other players fold, you win a pot that you should not even have been involved in. If you are reraised, you fold, as this hand is way to weak to invest more chips with without seeing the flop.

The deception part comes if you are called and connect well with the board. Say for example the flop comes 58K, with two cards of your suit. And say your opponent has AK or even KK. This is perfect for deception, and if you hit this straight you have a good chance to get all your opponent's chips, as he could not believe that you raised with small suited connectors. Therefore this is particularly potent when playing deep-stacked.

As summary, you must use aggression pre flop. There are many reasons to do so, make sure you try all five scenarios listed in the article.


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