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Preflop Bets

Poker school lessons are getting to a new level. We assume that at this stage you know the rules and understand the key points of poker game. Besides, you are supposed to already have some practical experience. Further on we'll go into details on many issues that have already been covered and will improve your game. In case you are an experienced player, the topics we've studied earlier were clear and simple for you. But today's lesson might be useful to advanced players as well.

Let's first determine the importance of preflop bets. There are many reasons to raise or 3-bet preflop in Hold'em, and we've already mentioned the key points in one of our lessons. In this lesson, we'll add some more details and focus on the most important reasons for raising or 3-betting pre-flop.

A poker player should clearly know why he performs certain actions and what he wants to achieve. The below reasons aren't provided in their importance order, as their order is something abstract, based on:

  • Bet size
  • Number of players (in a tournament or cash game)
  • How many chips you have relative to the blinds (when playing in a tournament)
  • Your opponents’ behavior
  • Your position

It's very important to consider all of these criteria before raising. Bear in mind that there are many reasons for raising preflop. Yet, you should always have some strong grounding to not just toss money out the window. Let's consider some of these reasons.

preflop bet

Value betting

This is a strong reason for raising. If you consider your cards to be the best ones, you should build the pot. No rush, take your time to analyze the situation and choose the best way to do it.

So, the main reasons for value betting are the following:

  • to boost the pot;
  • to reduce the number of players;
  • to make your rivals act wrong.

You should make sure that the bet size corresponds to your goal. No doubt, you already know how to bet so, that other players watching you won't be able to get an idea of what your cards are. Raise of about 3 times the size of the big blind and add another blind for each limper acting before you. Act this way, and no one will see you through. In addition, your bets should correspond to all three goals. If you play at a table where this setup doesn’t permit to achieve all the three goals - adjust it. Each new game is played differently. Raising 3 times the size of the blind is a recommendation. You might be playing at a table where raising 4 or 5 times the size of the blind will provide the necessary result.

Raising for image

A small raise with very weak cards in the hope of gaining good dividends in terms of money and contributing to your image. Good players don't sit back waiting for good cards to come. They catch the right moment, feel the situation and get their opponents puzzled. The beauty of a Holdem game with weak preflop cards is to embarrass your opponents holding good cards. For example, you’ve got suited connectors (), you've raised preflop, and the flop came out  providing you a straight draw. Your opponent who's got an Ace believes you are holding an Ace as well, judging by your aggressive behavior preflop. Now, if turn comes or , you'll win easily.

This way of building your image by making poor bets preflop is rather effective if your game style is usually tight. This might happen when you keep getting trash cards, and you've played just a few hands so far. So, if you make a big bet all of a sudden everyone will get alert, knowing that you are not the one throwing money away. Use it as long as it brings profit. It will also make it difficult for other players to read you.


This usually happens when you are on the button, and everyone, acting before you, have folded. Many players raise automatically having any hand in the hope of getting the blinds. When playing poker you can’t use the same setup for a long time, you need to be more sophisticated and make the most of your position. In case the blinds are $10 and $20, and you've raised 3 times the size of the blind, your odds will be 9 to 5. Always consider your bets' size.

Certainly, it's quite a trick to get hold of the blinds, but make sure to always think over your actions and don't let greed take over. Bear in mind that someone might have very good cards, and your attempt will be of no success. Another thing to consider is what's the value of two blinds? Most probably, collecting them won't provide loads of money.

preflop bets

Semi-bluff raising

Semi-bluff raising is a bet with a drawing hand which can become stronger on the following streets. For example, you've got a straight draw and raise to win a hand even if your draw is not complete. A villain will think you've got a monster and will put out many cards which are stronger than yours.

  • if he has great cards he'll go all-in or make a big bet, which will be very good for you as you'll get out of the game with no losses;
  • he'll just call - you control the game, that is your position is perfect.

Raise to isolate a villain

This is a common situation. Let's assume that you are in the button position holding high suited cards like . Players holding medium cards will get out of the game as soon as you raise 3 times the size of the blind. To play this game well you need to minimize players' number in the pot. So, you have to decide whether to fold or raise. You should raise 7-8 times the size of the blind if you are sure this will squeeze out other players. Your goal is to stay one on one with a villain who hopes to beat you. The blinds have two random cards each, and they need solid reasons to continue the game. Limpers will fold immediately if their cards are bad.

Poker provides no guarantees, but rival’s isolation is a good solution. It can really bring you money if you play against a weak player having many chips. As soon as he makes a mistake, you'll be the only one to take advantage of it.

Always ask yourself "Why?"

As we've already mentioned, there are many reasons to raise. Yet, you should know to determine whether such a reason exists in this or that specific situation. Make sure to always take into account such criteria as position, rival's skills, your image and chips' number. Children always ask adults "why"? It's a useful thing to do. Advanced players are aware of the significance of such questions. Another important tip is to always have a plan and stick to it.

Having covered preflop bets topic, we are moving on to studying flop bets.

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