Reasons for Raising...

OK, so I've been MIA for a few days, it seems. But now I am back. Between family gatherings for the Easter weekend (I forgot it was Easter), tax time, and having a relapse on "the cold from hell," I've taken some time away from writing. Easter has passed, taxes are done, and the cold still kickin my backside, but I'm back no less.

Today we'll dive into raising. We all know I am not a fan of "calling," generally speaking. Anyone who's been on the tables with me knows I am not a "cheap date." In general, I endorse the "raise or fold" approach. That's not to say that a raise is to always be put in, nor is it saying that we should blindly raise. Let's take a moment for you, my cold medicine, and I to ponder why one raises and by how much, generally speaking.

Why Raise?

There are a few different reasons why one raises a pot. First of all, putting in a raise is the act of putting in a bet that is at least double the size of the big blind. A raise typically says "I have a good hand." But should you raise just because you have a good hand? One would be inclined to say yes, however this is not the case.

We are dealt our hole cards, and we identify what kind of poker hand we have and then we take a look at what position we're sitting in. I also reccommend whether playing live or playing online you make yourself familliar with the chip stack size of everyone at the table prior to doing any of the above. I like to know how many chips everyone else has, as well as how many I have before making any decisions. Once we've checked the stack sizes, identified what hand we have and what position we're in, we reflect on how this hand best plays.

Beer Guy, what do you mean by reflecting on how this hand best plays? Don't all hands play best when you flop the nut? HaHa... no that's not at all what I am talking about. What I mean is, are we holding a playable hand or not? If no, fold... If it is playable, does this hand play out better against more opponents or fewer opponents (recall the conversation regarding speculative hands, top pair hands, and powerhouse hands?) Speculative hands play better multi-way. These are hands such as 8-9s. They do not typically hold up when top pair flops. They do, however, pay dearly when 7-6-10 hits the board. Depending on my position the blind levels and my chip stack, I might be inclined to either raise, call or fold with this hand.

If I am sitting in the early position with 8-9s in the middle of the poker tournament with an average chip stack, I'm throwing this hand away. However, middle of the tournament, sitting on the button with 8-9s and 1 caller, I'd be equally as likely to call or raise preflop with this hand. Let's suppose for arguement's sake I get 1 person to limp preflop from the middle position. He can be making this limp with pretty much anything, a small connector suited or not, ace small, dueces, etc from his middle position. After his limp, action folds to me. I have two choices, neither of which are "incorrect" but I like to mix play up.

I'm playing this hand, the question becomes, do I raise or do I call and what are the benefits of each? If I call, I most likely will get a completion from the SB and a check from the BB and will see the flop four handed. If I put in a standard raise (3-6 times blinds), I have a few different things going on. First, I am showing strength. Second, I might be able to steal the pot right there. Third, I may get a caller or two, which I have the benefit of acting last and have shown strength before the flop. A raise here would be put in for steal potential (preflop or on the flop), to coax more chips into the center which gives me and my hand better odds to draw after the flop providing two or three of them are calling, and protects the value of my raises down the road with monster hands.

I'm going to wrap this post up, as I need to go lay back down (cold medicine is kicking my ass). In closing the reasons I put a raise in:

1. To get more chips in the center of the table, sweetening the pot,
2. To attempt to steal when appropriate,
3. To isolate 1-2 callers with a strong hand that better holds up 1-2 handed,
4. (in the above situation with 8-9s, 1 caller mid position and I'm on the button), to protect the future value of my raises with premium hands.

I appologize that this post is not detailed further. Perhaps I will add to it later today. Otherwise, we'll continue on this topic tommorrow.