If you’re going to play poker, then you really need to get into the game. Don’t be afraid to raise well. Don’t be afraid to get into pots where you know that you have a good hand. The very fundamentals of poker can help you with some decisions, but other decisions will have to come from just feeling the board, and going with your best guess.
Guess? Isn’t that a dirty word in the world of poker? Sometimes, but there is a place for guessing and doing the best that you can. A lot of people think that playing “by the book” poker will take them into the highest of stakes. That’s not really true. There is some “guesswork” in the world of poker. Not every professional is playing based on solid theory. There comes a time where you just need to make a call and go with your gut.
When do you need to raise? When you really do have a hand worth raising with.
Let’s set up a board and pursue this further:
Hand: QdTh (Queen of Diamonds, Ten of Hearts, QTo)
If you’re in late position, this means that you’re the last to act. This gives you a chance to really think about your actions. If everyone else is just calling and you have a moderately good hand, you might want to raise to see what everyone else does. A light raise can weed out the people that were just going to throw whatever they liked into the ring and call it a day.
If you’re in early position (first to act) — you might want to call and see who else jumps in with you. Your hand is pretty strong, but you still have some competition. There’s AA, KK, QQ, AK, AQ, & AJ to think about as well.
You need to practice a bit of caution if someone else raises. If they’re only raising 1BB (one big blind), then proceed. However, if they start going with a 10BB raise, you might be in a world of trouble. Would you push forward?
Well. I would, but I’m a little ballsy that way. Some would fold out because they are worried about losing to other hands. You know what? Do it. This is even more the case if you’re just practicing some free poker stuff.
Let’s go on to the flop:
10d Js 9s
You’re excited! Straight time, right? Almost. You need one more to make that straight, but be careful: someone else might have the straight already. If someone has a KQ, they have the nuts already. Someone else could raise on you with an 87 in hand. This means that you will have to evaluate carefully, studying the position that everyone is in, as well as how much they have raised.
Ouch. Believe it or not, we’ve had turns like that. They suck. You feel uneasy. You’re not sure if you want to stay in. The truth? You do. At this point, you have a pair of 10′s. You’ve already committed to the pot. You might as well finish it out.
A few problems here. This makes three spades on the board. So even if you have the straight, someone else might have the flush! You would be beaten, and your chips sucked away. This has happened to us so many times it’s not even funny anymore.
Look at what others are doing. Now, you might have some players going stealth, but usually people will bet HARD if they have something good.
If nobody is raising, this is when you raise! Don’t let that straight go away. On the other hand, you have to make sure that you raise smart. Don’t go all in. Shove if you must, but don’t push so hard that you lose all of your chips. Remember, if someone has a KQ, they can beat your straight.
Let’s say that everyone calls once you raise again. They’re committed, just like you. Some have folded — good.
The big reveal indicates the following hands:
Looks like you won! Get your chips and rock out.
But what if your opponent had that KQ? You’d be busted. That’s why you don’t bet your whole stack. There is something to be said about betting a little lighter and making sure that you have something that can carry you over to the next round, or the next hand…or whatever you’re playing at the moment.
Is this going to apply to every single strategy? Not at all. You have to know your opponents. Fold a few hands just looking at how the players interact. Sure, you might have to give up a few monsters, but the truth is that you need a few rounds of research before you can really build table specific strategy.
In our next article, we’ll cover image and strategy a bit more. For now, take care and keep playing those hands with confidence. Raising can really get you more chips than just limping around through yet another tournament. That’s really not as much fun anyway. It’s all No Limit Texas Hold’Em for a reason!