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  1. #1
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    Default What is the purpose of raising?

    Seems like a basic question, but I've been adjusting my game and asking myself some fundamental questions.

    If we raise say 10% of hands in early position, 20% mid, and 30+% in late position what are we trying to accomplish with the raise. I see a some reasons for raising:

    1. To get value from a great hand like AsAd
    2. To semi-bluff with a weaker hand like 10s9s
    3. To build a pot for hands that have set/flush/straight potential
    4. To balance ranges (and not be too readable)

    For 1 it seems we want to narrow the field to one or two callers max.
    For 2 we might be happier with everyone folding.
    For 3 we might want a family pot (and would not even want to raise preflop).
    For 4 we want to be tricky.

    I ask because a lot of cash games are loose passive where almost whatever reasonable raise you make you will either get 1 caller or 5 callers. Obviously pots with 6 players are mostly going to whoever flopped best, while a pot with 2 players can be won more often with bluffing/aggression especially against weak players.

    So for example, in the cutoff with 10s9s, three limpers before, what is the point of a raise here? Or should we even be raising with that many limpers? Should we be trying to find a value that we use consistently that reduces the field to 1 or 2 callers max?

    I see a lot of LAG players just raising everything without any apparent purpose. They might even raise the same amount or use the formula for adding blinds per limper, but they get 5 callers anyway and the pot usually goes to someone else (because you can't flop great against 5 other people most of the time).

    Any thoughts? Thanks!
    Last edited by krampus; January 15th, 2016 at 03:16 PM.

  2. #2
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    Let me explain the process. There are two ways to win a poker hand. Show down the best hand or make the best hand fold. Knowing that, when you choose to enter a hand, there are 3 advantages you can have: 1) Cards; 2) Position; and 3) initiative.

    Cards is pretty simple, you have a hand that rates to be the best at this point in the hand. If you are first to enter the pot, you have a hand that at least rates to be the best of the remaining hands at the table.

    Position is also a simple concept to understand, yet many players fail to take advantage of position or fail to respect position when they do not have it. Basically, position is knowledge and knowledge is money in poker. Position can allow you to make better decisions when bluffing or deciding to bluff and position allows you to control the pot size when you have what rates to be the best hand.

    Initiative is the concept amateurs understand the least. Initiative is the act of taking control of the betting in the hand. In general, the person who makes the bet preflop is generally the person who has the control of the betting in the following round of betting, as most players will check to the aggressor. Basically, their thinking is to see if you will follow through with your aggression.

    For them to take initiative from you they either need a monster where they are willing to play for stacks, or they have to take a risk at building a big pot when they cannot play a big pot with their hand.

    Using initiative as an advantage or weapon is how professionals plan a hand. They don't plan on winning the pot with a preflop bluff raise and give up if it doesn't work. But they plan on using the initiative to make the preflop raise, make the continuation bet, and finally winning the pot with the initiative on the turn or river with one or two more bets to continue telling the story of a big hand. The secret to bluffing good and great players is that you will need to be willing to bluff two or three streets post flop to make them fold.

    So this is the reason I will raise when I enter a hand preflop. If I am first in, I will raise, even if it is a bluff, to take the initiative and give my self chances to win the pot post flop when I don't flop the best hand.

    When I am in position, I will call with speculative hands and marginal hands, but will sometimes try to take the initiative by 3 betting and taking control of the betting preflop to win post flop with the worst hand.

    We all know how to play with the best hand, that really needs little explanation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Little View Post
    I typed out a nice long reply then I realized it said almost the exact same thing as jjpregler said right above me.


  3. #3
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    I agree with everything you wrote. That's the strategy that a generally good player uses though I think in today's game it's a fairly obvious strategy and most decent players are aware of at least the c-bet and will call down with second pair, etc..

    I'm thinking there is something we can do to improve that pre-flop strategy or at least to understand what we are really trying to achieve by raising, at least in situations where a table is extremely loose. Taking control of the pot by raising with the intention of using aggression/bluffing post flop and getting 4 or 5 callers who will also call you down with just about any pair just does not work often enough to be profitable.

    It seems to me that we're always in better shape when trying to use aggression when there are less opponents and therefore we should attempt to raise using a size that reduces the field, otherwise we're just building a pot that we're likely to loose. BUT this can be frustrating because in these loose games you tend to get NO or MANY callers. If the first limper calls, it's starting the limp-call train and you get everyone calling (except when 4th donkey limper decides to go all in with the hand that he 4th limped in with before the raise - I see tight/weak players do this -- because they are tired of everyone folding to their KK raise since they are known as super-nits so they limp everything trying to hit a monster flop).

    Maybe this is only a question in unusually loose games. Many of the videos I see (including Jonathan's) seem to be six handed where you rarely get more than 2 callers. The adjustments that need to be made for a 10 handed loose table might just be particular to that situation.
    Last edited by krampus; January 16th, 2016 at 08:28 AM.

  4. #4
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    No, I see many players worry too much about this. There are adjustments, but they are logical common sense adjustments. You are at a loose passive table.

    1) Don't adjust your raising size. These player call based on their hand only. They are playing level 1 poker. They will call a min to a 5x raise with just about the same raise. Increasing your raise will not thin the herd so to speak.

    2) Being a live player in the Philly/AC market, I know these games. Those players like to see flops. But realistically, not every pot is multi-way. You do get a share of hands where only two players have a hand or once in a while, a preflop raise gets folds. So I do have hands on experience with this issue.

    3) These players are mostly playing level 1, you do not need balance, at least from early position. I generally play tight from EP and don't loosen up until late position in these games. In general it is about knowing what the games will give you and adjusting accordingly. In this way, your bluff range goes down and you are raising fewer stronger hands from the first 5 seats. But in this game, your stronger hands get more value from calling stations calling you down in the early levels.

    4) Your advantages in the game do not change. There is only 3, no matter who your opponents are. Cards, position, and initiative. You will find that when initiative becomes less of an advantage, cards become more of an advantage. Position in a way just magnifies your advantage in cards or initiative.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Little View Post
    I typed out a nice long reply then I realized it said almost the exact same thing as jjpregler said right above me.


  5. #5
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    OK let's discuss the power of cards/position/initiative in these multiway pots. In the loose-passive games I play, it's not uncommon for 8 people to see a flop even with a raise. In normal LAG strategy cards like suited connectors are often raised in late position, but when 8 people see a flop you have no card advantage (you didn't anyway since suited connectors are semi-bluff hands), little initiative value because you are not likely to have flopped the best hand, and position is of little value when other players are more likely to connect with the flop and they will often call you down with any pair, any draw.

    In this kind of game it seems that you either need a hand with strong showdown value or you need to see flops with less opponents (when playing for high card value). I mean is there really any point in raising any hand in this type of game? AA has very little value when 8 people call. Should we just be set mining with any pair and looking for flush/straight potential hands? When 8 people call a raise the game really just becomes a bigger game where everyone is limping and effectively you end up being a limper too.

    For example, 1-2 NLH, raise to 20 in late pos with AA (very common raise in this game), get 7 callers, now you might as well be playing a short stacked 10-20 game and you just effectively limped in with AA.

    In other words, if much of our advantage as "good" players comes from initiative and position, this advantage is reduced in proportion to the number of opponents seeing a flop. In these games I find many less spots for bluffing and creative play because you have to hit hands or you're just going to lose to the large crowd. This negates much of my "clever" play and reduces the game to just playing hand strength.

    Do you really think we should not be trying to reduce the field?

    Thanks for the conversation!

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    Alright this is just devolving. You are seriously trying to tell me that every hand goes 8 players multi-way in a raised pot. Come on. Stop it. I can't participate in a conversation where you just won't be realistic. Remember, I have played the low limit games in the loose passive paradise of the world and cannot say that every hand goes multi-way.

    If you want to start talking realistic, I'll be back, but I an't waste my time arguing with someone making ridic claims to make a point.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Little View Post
    I typed out a nice long reply then I realized it said almost the exact same thing as jjpregler said right above me.


  7. #7
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    OK if you feel that way....

    I never said EVERY, but MANY to MOST hands go 5 to 8 way. I can keep track next time of exactly how many hands go 5 to 8 way before the flop. It's probably at least 50% of hands.

    I'm not trying to make any specific point. I'm asking how you would adjust to game like this which led to me to ask a general poker theory question which is "what are we trying to achieve when raising." Your previous replies I totally understand and agree with when it comes to general poker theory around initiative, cards, and position.

    In my opinion, we raise in order to take control of the hand and/or to build value. But both those powers are reduced when too many people come in, so it seems that a related goal of raising is to thin the field. This leads me to believe that correct strategy is not to raise unless you believe you can thin the field to 1 or 2 (maybe 3) callers. In the 1-2 NL game I'm talking about, I guarantee that IF 4 people have already limped in, I'm on the button with AA and raise to 15, I will get 4-6 callers which usually makes AA tough to play after the flop.

    I need to run some math/equity calculations to see what the effect of callers is on overall hand equity. I started doing it with equity to the river, but this is not a realistic view since you won't make it to the river much of the time. I'll post more after I've done some math. If you're interested great, if not, maybe someone else will have some thoughts.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by krampus View Post
    In my opinion, we raise in order to take control of the hand and/or to build value. But both those powers are reduced when too many people come in, so it seems that a related goal of raising is to thin the field.
    How do you come to this conclusion? If you have the best hand, you want people to call your value bet. It gives you value! If you are trying to bluff you ant people to fold. If you cannot get people to fold, but can get value from your strong hands, that is how you beat that game.

    All in all, I would say don't spend precious time on this. Your goal is to get out of $1/$2 quickly into games that the rake is not prohibitive in making a profit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Little View Post
    I typed out a nice long reply then I realized it said almost the exact same thing as jjpregler said right above me.


  9. #9

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    I think its a good decision of raising and quite beneficial from all the ends.
    Lets hope for the best for its future outputs.

  10. #10
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    OK, thanks for the replies. I'll keep them in mind next cash game.

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