the preflop raise. a theory. or two.

joosebuck

joosebuck

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in poker, a game of deception, we are looking always to maximize our gains and minimize our losses. to do so we envoke several tools to help us with this; adaptation, mathematics, and deception amongst other things. something i want to take a look at is preflop play, and the importance of deception in it. as slansky says, "any time an opponent does something different than he would do if he knew your cards, we gain". the problem is, if we play too soft or vague, it is difficult for us to define our opponents hand. if we play too straight forward, we lose value and are flagged as an ABC player and will never get paid off. therefore, before raising preflop there are several things you need to think about aside from your holecards.

first off, position.

from the early positions we are acting with little or zero information from the other positions, other than what we have deciphered from earlier hands. like betting patterns, styles, etc. so when raising from the early positions we need to take this into accord and tighten our ranges accordingly. this is also because we will mostly be playing out of position postflop, and against a wide range of opponents it will cause our money to leak away if we play marginal hands. as our position betters, we can open our ranges and raise with more hands.

secondly, reads.

when you look down at a hand like aa in early position, the first thing you should do is not click click click away raising it up. one of the first things you should do is examine your previous reads on your opponents left to act. if, for instance, you have a note that the button is hyper aggressive and raises every orbit on his button/co and will fire all the way to the river, the correct thing might be to just limp. on the other end of the spectrum, if you have an lpp fool or two left to act, then raising might be the better option. taking away the rope of someone who wants to hang themself, or giving a fish too much slack to draw to are two mistakes you do not want to make. so before you act, take into account what the tendencies of the people behind you are.

third, dead money.

dead money is a topic that many people overlook. if you are one of these people, this could be a huge leak in your game. if your table is very loose weak, you should be punishing the limpers like crazy. abusing position on weak players should be something that brings a gleam of joy to your face.

fourth, your image (in the eyes of the table).

if you're on a sick card rush, it might not seem like anything out of the ordinary for you to raise AJs from the c/o into the normally passive blinds. but to them, it looks like you've raised 6 out of the last 10 hands and are a LAG maniac.


what it boils down to is that after looking down at your holecards, what you should do is not base the possibility and size of your bet on your cards alone, but on a plethorea of variables attached to the current session
 
KICKIN_ACES

KICKIN_ACES

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Thank you joose this was very informative & will be helpful in my game
 
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kid_romeo24

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Insightful!!!

I do find a lot of truth in what you say. There are many things to be think of while in a position if weakness aa well as clueless. All we have to do is study our opposition and rely on our poker instincts!
 
NineLions

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Nice, joose.

I don't know if I've ever seen you write so much in one message, and it's all good stuff.


I'm still working on learning how to see/go for the dead money part, myself.
 
joosebuck

joosebuck

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well. the reason i decided to write it is because i notice a lot of people are too predictable preflop. raise to x with x here. call with x here. do x here.

the point i want to make is that there is no 100% right way to play aa utg. raising 5x from there and only rasing AQo 3x gets to be too predictable. you should, in my opinion obviously, raise these two hands the same if you are going to raise them at all. if i notice you raise certain hands certain values, i will be reraising your more marginal ones and folding all but better hands against the stronger one.

what you should instead be doing is basing it off of things almost completely unrelated to your cards. like the things aformentioned.

and sorry if i didnt stay 100% on topic or elaborate enough in the OP. i wrote it on a whim.
 
The_Flash

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Thanks for the post. I found the above information to be helpful and insightful.
 
shinedown.45

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Nice post joose, thanks for pointing out one of my suspected leaks(raisining x with xx and so on)
 
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stealthy1

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Good post. Just for using the word 'plethora' you get +rep!
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

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Good post. Just for using the word 'plethora' you get +rep!
"Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?"
"Yes... Yes! You have a plethora of piñatas, El Guapo!"
"Paco... Do you know what plethora means?"

I love that movie.
 
JenksVIP

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Wow that was a very good blog. I liked your ideas about position
 
hott_estelle

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"Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?"
"Yes... Yes! You have a plethora of piñatas, El Guapo!"
"Paco... Do you know what plethora means?"

I love that movie.

What movie is that? Sounds familiar but I can't quite remember. Maybe I'm just completely off.
 
Tammy

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"Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?"
"Yes... Yes! You have a plethora of piñatas, El Guapo!"
"Paco... Do you know what plethora means?"

I love that movie.
ROFLMAOOOOO. Classic.

What movie is that? Sounds familiar but I can't quite remember. Maybe I'm just completely off.
The Three Amigos. :bandit:

Joose, that was a great post! +rep! I'm proud of you! :D
 
rob5775

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What about the size of the preflop raises. I know some people swear by the 3-bet raise every time (not I though). It can get very situation dependent, especially with reads and prior action before you act.

For those of us that are primarily SNG and tourney players, there's times and situations when your preflop raises are going to vary with the progression of said tournament. In the beginning stages a larger raise is appropriate because alot of player are apt to call with less than spectacular holdings and take chances to flop big while the chips are cheap.

Near the middle and end of SNG's and tourneys typically raises can be smaller (again, read dependent) due to the rising blinds and players hoping to just fold through the bubble. Smaller preflop raises can control the pot but also give better odds for players to make calls.

I'm a little drunk and just realized I'm really wandering here, so I'll wrap it up. I think varying the size of the raise preflop is very important as a tournament or SNG progresses. Don't get stuck into raising big with big hands and min raising (hate it) with moderate hands. I could go on but I just might confuse myself.:p

Robbie
 
joosebuck

joosebuck

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Don't get stuck into raising big with big hands and min raising (hate it) with moderate hands.

pretty much the synopsis of my OP. my experience is mostly MTT/Cash, and this post specifically is aimed at high-M situations like deepstacks or cash games. raise sizes matter less in sngs/late in tournies because of the blind/stack ratio. it only matters really if you are raising are not. you can take the principles and apply them to the mtt & raising preflop according to that, but the size of the raise wont change much, if at all. raising in low-m situations is more of a boolean thing than a variable thing.
 
Schatzdog

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This is a very good post. What about smooth calling a monster to a pfr as part of mixing up your game? Say UTG opens for a 4xBB raise, it gets called and you, in MP, look down at KK. Is there a good case to smooth call here?
 
J

jeffred1111

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This is a very good post. What about smooth calling a monster to a pfr as part of mixing up your game? Say UTG opens for a 4xBB raise, it gets called and you, in MP, look down at KK. Is there a good case to smooth call here?

I would raise anyway to protect my hand and maybe go HU or 3 handed. Not a fan of smooth calling in MP with KK since you cannot have a narrow range to put your opponents on (UTG could have a low pp or high-suited connectors if he's loose), especially if it gets called by 1-2 people after you. Maybe in the CO or Button, but not in MP. By calling you're giving nice odds to the people after you and you've lost your KK if an ace hits with 3 other guys in the pot.

Best, in my opinion, to raise or reraise with medium to good holdings (suited Ace) than it is to slowplay pf a high pp that it is likely to be beaten if more than 3-4 people enter the hand.
 
joosebuck

joosebuck

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depends on how much action you expect after you. obviously more logical from co/button or blinds when you are or are closer to being closing action with good reads on those left to act.

also, you want to tend to do it against more aggressive people.
 
Schatzdog

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Yeah, I was just going to say that you're giving implied odds to small PP and suited connectors if any are still to act. Still though, I think this can be a good play as a disguise.

In the hand that I got the example from I opened from ep with AQs. Got two flat callers, flopped TPTK and went bust to a turn push. But the reason I went bust is because I put him on KK/KQ and decided on KQ due to the fact that he didn't re-raise pf. That got me thinking about whether his flat call with KK was a good play or not. I'm still not too sure.
 
J

jeffred1111

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Yeah, I was just going to say that you're giving implied odds to small PP and suited connectors if any are still to act. Still though, I think this can be a good play as a disguise.

In the hand that I got the example from I opened from ep with AQs. Got two flat callers, flopped TPTK and went bust to a turn push. But the reason I went bust is because I put him on KK/KQ and decided on KQ due to the fact that he didn't re-raise pf. That got me thinking about whether his flat call with KK was a good play or not. I'm still not too sure.

Well, it is a good play if you're willing to gamble and get your pp cracked by having more people in the pot, but I wouldn't do it. I'd prefer to disguise lesser holdings than to disguise good hands since you never really know where you are in the hand preflop and it is the reason I'll often play crap (yes, even 72o) if I feel that my opponent don't have anything and I'm on the button.

If I reraise with 7-2 and the flop comes 774 rainbow, I know where I am. If it comes KA3, I know where I am and they are an easy muck unless I suspect and sense weakness. If I had QQ and didn't reraise on that second flop, I don't know where I am, the guy could have medium pp for all I know.
 
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sdexceed

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Just to add my own insight - I love to raise from early position with mid-high suited connectors and if i completely miss buy a K hits I try to represent the king. You should see how many pots i take down with that. Rarely do you ever get put on suited connectors with a pre flop raise. Almost always ppl read you with A K, AQ, or high pair.
 
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