Raise sizing in tight games

As you get more comfortable playing post flop in No Limit Holdem cash games you start to realize that you do not mind pe...

Posted Mar 01, 2013


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

As you get more comfortable playing post flop in No Limit Holdem cash games you start to realize that you do not mind people calling your raises when you hold strong hands. I actually want to see multiple callers when I raise with a hand like AA because I feel like I am going to make the right types of decisions after the flop.

Often times you will see players raise their premium hands to some absurd amount preflop--like something like 10x--because they are scared to play after the flop and because they do not want to get a bad beat. If you find yourself falling into the category of this type of player you have to start to realize how much future value you are losing by blowing players with inferior holdings out of the pot. Why would I not want players to call me with hands like KJ or QT and then pay me off for three streets with top pair?

If you find yourself playing in a game that is tight, which usually happens in your typical weekday daytime lineups, how can we encourage people to call our value raises? The answer is simple—raise smaller preflop. Especially when opening from late position you want to encourage the blinds to call with weaker holdings.

Let us take a look at an example. Say we hold KK in the cutoff, in a tight $2-$5 game. The action gets folded around to us and instead of making our standard four times raise we raise to $15. It gets folded through to the big blind who calls. The board comes out Q 6 2. The big blind checks and we bet $20. The big blind quickly calls. The turn brings the 2 and your opponent checks again. This time we bet $45 and he calls. The river is the 4 and he checks again. We are pretty sure that he has a queen and we bet $120. We are snapped called by the big blind who tables Q 8. Even though this hand seems relatively easy to play it was set up by our small sizing preflop inducing the out of position player to make multiple mistakes post flop.

We can use this same strategy if we notice that the table is tight and not many raises are being called. Instead of opening normal you can actually open smaller from up front to induce players to come in. You have to realize however, that this advice is extremely table dependent. Often times on weekend nights raises are called in multiple spots for as much as five or six times the big blind. Raising small preflop on those types of tables is just losing value. 

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