When I talk about poker preflop raising hands, I will primarily be talking about the hands you should raise when everyone else folds before you. IE you are the first person to put money into the pot. The reason for this is because preflop re-raising hands (or 3-betting hands) and preflop flat calling hands are a totally different kettle of fish and require a whole new article for each.
There are very few absolutes in poker, but one I am going to give you is that: When you are the first person to enter the pot, do so with a raise. Never be the limper! The reason for this is simple, if you have a strong enough hand to play, you want to be raising preflop to 1) Get value from your hand, 2) Take the initiative and 3) Take down the blinds. For a guide to playing against weak players who limp, please check out my article called isolating the limper.
Every suited ace: Suited aces are a powerful hand in holdem cash games. The reason why suited aces are so valuable is because they allow you to make the nut flush draw. When you raise preflop and get a caller and flop the nut flush draw you will have enough equity to consider betting the flop and turn almost always. The profitability of these hands will come from having the initiative and taking down the pot when you are semi bluffing. You will also have alot of semi-bluffing opportunities with the hand on the turn when you flop and backdoor flush draw and turn the nut flush draw. Low suited aces such as A2 to A5 are in my opinion superior to Ace6 to ace 8. The reason for this is that your kicker will rarely play with all these small and medium aces (since most people don’t place ace rage) but with the small suited aces you often flop or turn a wheel draw (Ace – 5 straight) and the extra 4 outs give you more equity and more incentive to semi-bluff with your hand.
Every suited broadway: Suited broadways are in the same vain as suited aces except they also have some pair value. You have to be careful about some domination issues when you raise the weaker suited broadway from early position but those should be negated by the flush and straight draws you make with your hand. From under the gun in 6-max I am always opening hands like TJ suited and QJ suited however I am almost always folding TJ offsuit and QJ offsuit.
Premium broadway: I raise KQo and AJo at most tables under the gun. The only tables I will not raise it are at tough tables with lots of aggressive players on my left. I will raise AQ AK from any position in almost all 6-max games. I will almost always fold ATo QJo JTo KJo from under the gun always. I will ususally always raise these hands from a later position.
Suited connectors: If you look up your suited connectors in poker tracker or similar software you will notice that you are usually breakeven or a tiny loser with these hands. The reason I play them almost always is because of the increased action you will get from other players because of them. IE the extra few points on your VPIP will turn you from a nit that gets no action to a TAG that gets decent action from your opponents.
Basically, what im saying is the increased action you will get from playing suited connectors like 45s-9Ts, the more action you will get with your big hands such as Aces, Kings and Queens. So you will be breaking even or taking a small loss with these hands for the increased value you will get with your big hands… Assuming you play your suited connectors well, barreling in the correct spots and giving up in the correct spots. These hands also have some deceptive value and stop you getting exploited by having a weak range on low and middling flops. For example, If you raise from under the gun and get a caller, the flop comes down 6 7 8. If your playing hands like 45, 67, 78, 9T you will be alot harder to play against compared to someone who always has a range weighted towards big cards only.
As you know, position is very important, that means, the closer you get to the button the more hands you can start raising. You want to have a sliding scale where you open the least hands under the gun and the most hands on the button. Below I have outlined a standard raising range:
Open the small blind with a very wide range until given a reason not to. Against loose big blinds tighten up, Against nitty big blinds a raise with anytwo cards can be profitable.
I wrote a good article about preflop raise sizing. The conclusion I came to is that the following raise sizes are optimal for 6-max as a standard in relatively aggressive games.
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