What To Consider When Making a Preflop Raise

Making a preflop raise is one of the first moves a poker player learns, but there is more to it than simply putting some chips in the pot.

Every action you make at the poker table must have a reason behind it. From a preflop raise, three-betting from the blinds, or even calling a bet should have a clear reason why you made it. Splashing around in pots for the sake of it is a recipe for destroying your bankroll.

A preflop raise is one of the first moves a poker player masters. It is a simple yet important play in everyone’s arsenal. Some players raise simply because they can. Others have a more measured approach with clear reasoning behind it. Which statement describes you?

Why Make a Preflop Raise?

There are several reasons to make a preflop raise. Thinning the field is one of them. Limping in, or calling preflop, invite other players to jump into the hand. More opponents mean more hands to possibly outdraw you. Raising preflop folds out opponents weaker hands. For example, you look down at pocket aces and raise. Most players will fold hands like 7s-5s, Tc-8c, and similar. When the flop falls Kc-9d-7s you are very likely to have the best hand. However, getting tricky and limping with aces invites those hands to see the flop.

Imagine limping in with Ad-Ac and four more players come along for the ride. The flop falls Kc-9d-7s, you still may have the best hand but shaking off four opponents is tricky. Say you bet, two opponents call, and the 6s lands on the turn. There are so many hands that either beat you or can bluff here and put you in a bad spot.

Building a pot is another reason for a preflop raise. It is important to win as much as possible with your stronger hands. Raising before the flop builds a larger pot. In addition, you can raise preflop as a bluff. This is usually done when attacking the blinds.

Be Aware Of Your Position

The position you make a preflop raise from determines how likely your opponents believe you. Raises from under the gun and early position carry more weight than those made from the button.

Raising from early position means you are likely out of position for the rest of the hand if an opponent calls. This means you should make early position raises with stronger hands, which negates positional disadvantage.

Do not get tricky when in the cutoff or on the button. A raise from these positions with a strong hand looks like a blind steal attempt. Your opponents are likely to defend their blinds with a wide range of hands, leaving you with both positional and hand strength advantage.

Be Wary of Shorter Stacks

Take a look at the stack sizes of your opponents before making a preflop raise. This is especially true when playing tournament poker. However, some cash game players do not sit with a full stack either.

Playing several online poker tables at once sometimes means you neglect to see all the stack sizes behind you. Make a preflop raise when an opponent is sat with up to 15 big blinds likely means they will three-bet all-in because this is the perfect stack size to do so. Opening the pot with Jd-8s from the cutoff when the big blind has 12 big blinds probably is not the best idea. Why? Because your opponent is likely to three-bet shove. Are you calling here or folding and handing over some chips?

When At A Final Table

Reaching a final table is a great feeling, especially because it is where the big money is. Final table play is all about surviving and trying to get into the top three. This means being more selective when you preflop raise.

Having a big stack means you should be raising more frequently to apply pressure to others. Similarly, having medium stacks playing passively means you should raise more to bully those weak opponents.

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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