Raising will help poker player steal blinds and info

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In this, our fourth column in this series on “13 Reasons for Raising,” let’s discuss a few of the reasons we have not yet discussed.

If you have been following this series, we have examined (1) Building the pot; (2) Reducing the size of the playing field; (3) Raising a maniac; (4) Isolating a maniac; (5) Gaining position; and (6) Creating/changing your image. Today we’ll examine the use of the raise to steal the blinds and to get information.


You are in a middle or late position in a limit hold’em game and everyone folds. All you have is a marginal drawing hand — say 10-9 offsuit. With luck, you might flop a pair of 10’s or possibly four-to-a-straight.

Normally you would play this hand only in a multi-way pot (three or more opponents staying to see the flop) so you might get reasonable implied pot odds if there are no raises. The players behind you are rather conservative — no maniacs.

Take a shot at the pot by raising. More often than not, the rest of your opponents fold. Even if one had a small pair or a marginal drawing hand, there aren’t enough chips in the pot to warrant calling a double bet. The small blind needs at least a premium drawing hand to toss one and a half big blind bets into a small pot.

Chances are the big blind doesn’t have much and reasons that it’s not worth calling such a small pot. After all, he realizes that you may have a made hand like pocket aces or kings. You have just stolen the blinds.

Note: We specified that you are holding a marginal drawing hand. You might use the same strategy with a hand in the lower range of premium drawing hands (A-J)

The river card doesn’t help your hand. All you have is four-to-a big-flush! Because you check-raised on the turn, your opponent checks to you. Your best chance of winning that pot is to bluff on the river. Unfortunately, your opponent calls and takes the pot.

Yes, you lost that pot. But when you turn up your hole cards, all of the players at your table are anxious to see what you check-raised with and then bet on the river. Your image has just changed. Now they know that you are likely to bluff.


How does that “new image” work to your advantage? The next time you have caught a monster hand, your opponents are more likely to call your bets and raises. As a result, you will get paid off when you make the winning hands. That raise on the turn was a sound investment.

With pocket queens, you raise from a middle position – three opponents including the big blind call.

The flop brings a third queen, giving you a big set. The queen is the highest card on a rainbow board (no suited cards). Before changing your image from tight to deceptive (likely to bluff), your bet on the flop would likely be greeted with all your opponents folding, leaving you with a tiny pot.

Because of your “new” image, earned by your check-raise a few hands earlier, opponents with small/medium pairs and three cards to a straight or flush, will call your bet. Furthermore, if an early-position opponent bets and is called, your raise is bound to be called – hopefully building the pot for you.

With a big set on the flop, you are a huge favorite to take the pot at the showdown.

A legend passes

We lost an important figure in poker recently with the passing of Jacob Goldman on Dec. 20 at the age of 90.

Jacob Goldman, born in Brooklyn, NY, After creating the Ford Scientific Research Lab where, well ahead of his time, he promoted research on batteries for electric vehicles and moved upstate to Xerox in Rochester. It was there that the modern personal computer and laser printer were invented.

Goldman encouraged his staff to enjoy the game of poker. Goldman reportedly always had a poker game planned whenever he visited there from his office at Xerox headquarters. When interviewed by Dennis McLellen of the Los Angeles Times, Bobrow commented that Goldman “was a good poker player, particularly because he was a good judge of people.

(Send comments to George 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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