13 reasons for raising the bet in a hold’em poker game

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An opponent bets. You raise, increasing the size of the bet.

In a limit game, your raise is an additional amount equal to the size of his original bet. He may re-raise you. In no-limit games the size of the bet can be many times larger than the original bet, even all of the chips in front of you. (That’s often termed “Going all in!”)

For those of you who play recreational poker, be aware that casinos generally limit the number of raises for each betting round – usually three or four. Note: A player is said to “cap” the raising when he makes the final raise allowed. But there is no limit to the number of raises if the hand becomes heads-up (just two players remaining in the pot).

Everyone knows raising an opponent’s bet can serve to increase the size of the pot. That’s to your benefit when you hold the best hand. That raise is akin to “betting for value.” The more chips you get into the pot, the greater your reward when your hand wins the pot. But be discrete.

In this case, you don’t want your raise to force everyone to fold. Your raise is most effective in a late position, after everyone else has bet or called. Almost all of these players, having already called the original bet, will call your raise – building a huge pot for you to win.

On the other hand, such a raise – for value – would be undesirable if you were in an early position at a tight table. Everyone folds, leaving you with just a small pot. So it helps to “know” your opponents and it is best to raise to build the size of the pot from a late position.

Once the pot has grown significantly, there is more incentive for your opponents to call your bets on later streets – hoping for the “magic” card. (Little do they suspect that you hold the nuts!)

Raising may encourage opponents with marginal hands to fold. They might call with a single bet, but calling a double-bet is another matter. I call this Reducing the Size of the Playing Field (RSPF). This strategy is quite effective preflop when you hold a “made” hand (one that could win without further improvement).

For example, with pocket aces preflop, you are about an 80% favorite over each of your opponents. If four or more stay to see the flop, you become an underdog. Your pocket aces then will lose most of the time, which could be very costly. (Ideally, pocket aces play best against 3-4 opponents, but no more.) Use the raise to try to get 3-4 opponents staying to see the flop.
There are 13 reasons for raising the bet in a hold’em game.

My Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group and I compiled these during one of our poker classes at the senior center. And I will share these with you, the readers of Gaming Today. But promise not to tell others about this… I’ll list them here for you and discuss most in future issues of Gaming Today.

The 13 Reasons for Raising

• Building the pot (see above)

• Force out opponents (see above) – RSPF

• Steal the blinds

• Semi-Bluff or Bluff

• Get information

(How good is my hand?)

•.Improve betting position

• Isolate a “maniac”

• Get a FREE card on the next betting round

• Force out a bluffer on the river

• Buy more outs

• Protect your hand

• Create or change your image

             • As a psychological weapon

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at [email protected]


About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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