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When to raise in tournament poker
Posted at 06/28/2007 11 PM in Tournament Strategy by The Greedy Gecko.
Knowing when to raise in poker can give you the edge over any tournament game. It is one of the most fundamental poker strategies. However, it is not always obvious when you should raise, and without any set rules many mistakes are made. If you raise with a decent hand, it does not necessarily mean that you will be successful and win the pot. And so how do you know when to raise? Basically, you need to consider the ways in which raising can be used to gain an advantage. Raising should be seen as a strategic weapon that opens up opportunities and gives you an edge over your opponent. Here are a few basic concepts that can help your game.

Raising is usually used to generate money for the pot. However, it is not only a viable option for when you are holding premium hands. If you are holding Ace suited, for instance, and the flop shows another two of the same suit, you have a decent chance of hitting the nut flush on the next two cards. Therefore, raising can be a useful tool if you have decent odds of hitting a winning hand. Raising is also an aggressive tactic which can be used to bully opponents and get them out of the game. Jamie Gold is a perfect example; by constantly challenging his opponents to risk their entire stack in a single hand, he went on to achieve a lifetime ambition and every poker player’s dream.

This tactic is also useful for stealing blinds and particularly good to play if you are in mid position. If no one has called the blinds then you can scare opponents off and steal the blinds. However, watch the other players. If someone continues to raise, consider what cards they would usually raise with and make an informed decision. If your opponent only raises with premium hands then you know to lay your cards down unless you have a fantastic hand that is guaranteed to beat; only the nuts will do. If you are still in and overcards are dealt, then it is sensible to believe yourself in a weak position unless you have hit your hand or have an excellent read on your opponent.

If you are playing with a weak opponent, then use a raise to bully them out of the game. However, remember that weak players can be somewhat unpredictable and so consider your advantage first. If you believe you have a definite advantage with your hand, then next consider your chip stack. If you have the shorter stack and raise too soon in the game you could lose your chips. Then the weak player may play some poor cards later in the game and hit on the river, pushing you out of the game. Due to erratic play, also consider his tactics and inconsistencies to make sure you have a good read and don’t fall foul to poor play.

Shorthanded Hold´em requires much more aggression than other tournaments and as there are on average more hands per hour than full table games, and so decisions to be made. This means that raising is an essential tool and needs to be much more frequent, and not only with premium hands. Shorthanded play is loose and often aggressive due to the high blinds, and so all of the above tactics needs to be used to try and secure a decent chip stack early on to stay in the game. Bluffing is the norm in shorthanded poker and so don’t be afraid to raise as otherwise you’ll find yourself out too soon.

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