Developing a solid approach to pre-flop play is crucial in No-Limit Hold ’em. In this lesson, I’m going to teach you some simple rules for pre-flop play that can make you a much better poker player.
Why you need to mix up your play and what it really means to mix up your play. The types of hands I’ll play from different positions.
If I’m the first to enter a pot – it’s folded around to me, I have no money invested in this pot. If my hand is profitable to play for a call – we each put in $100, then it’s twice as profitable to play if we each put $200 into this pot. I don’t see any reason to call here. If it’s a profitable call, it’s definitely a profitable raise. Anytime I’m the first to enter a pot, I raise or I fold. I’m either raising or folding.
This is the ultimate way to mix up your play, because all of your playable hands look the same – you’re making the same play no matter the strenght of your hand. Many people raise different amounts with different hands. They may raise larger with Aces or lower to try and sucker people in. This is about the worst thing to do because observant opponents will pick up on that and pretty much know what you have.
You really have to keep your holdings very secret, and you do that by mixing up your play.
I do suggest changing the size of your raise. You don’t raise the same every time, but I suggest changing your raise based on position.
When I raise from early position, I’m repping a very strong hand. It doesn’t take much to get the blinds or marginal hands to fold.
The reason I don’t raise very much is I’m repping a lot of strength, but still have to get through 8 people. The reason I don’t raise very much is I’m repping a lot of strength, but still have to get through 8 people. They could have more strength and re-raise me.
I don’t play a lot of hands from early position – maybe 10 or 11 percent of my hands at most. I want any pair, 8s, 7s or higher, Ace-King, Ace-Queen and maybe Ace-Jack.
Ace-Queen. That’s an easily playable hand from early position against 8 opponents, so I’m going to raise. Because I’m in early position and representing strength, I don’t need to raise a lot to put pressure on the blinds. The more I raise, the more I’m giving the other 7 players before the blinds a reason to steal from me. That’s why I want to raise the minimum to put pressure on the blinds, in this case, $200. I get re-raised to $1000, and that’s not good for me. I’m in the middle of the range of hands I might play from first position. He’s put in a big enough raise that I could play it, but it’s also big enough that I’m going to fold here. Notice what happened. I feel like I saved money by putting in a small raise in this situation. Here I have Ace-King. I’ll make a small raise because I’m representing strength and don’t have to make a big raise to put pressure on the blinds. A bigger raise gives my opponents the chance to re-raise me and win my raise.
The small raise has another benefit because a lot of the hands my opponent may play against me don’t do well against my range of hands. Here, if he has something like Ace-Jack, I have him dominated and I don’t mind him calling in this situation. He could have 8-7, which could better than Ace-Jack. By making a small raise, I’m putting pressure on a large range of hands from Ace-Jack down to 6-7.
From middle position I can open up much more. Any pair is playable, high suited cards, Ace-10, Ace-nine, even some suited connectors.
Here I have King-Queen with four players behind me. Here if make a min raise, I feel like I make it too easy for the big blind to call me. I want to make it a little bit harder. I like to raise up to $250. Since I dont’ have a strong a hand, I have to raise a little more. And since I only have three players behind me, it’s not as dangerous to get re-raised.
From late position, I only have position on two players. They know I’m going to be playing a lot of hands and messing around with their blinds. Here I have to raise a little more because their marginal hands are all playable against a minimum raise. Here I try to raise 3 times the blind. Any Ace or any King is good. If you can find an excuse to raise from the button, be my guest and raise. Here I have Queen-10 and it’s folded to me. I think $200 is too small a raise, it’s too easy to call. $250 is OK, but I prefer to raise to $300 here. Again, it’s not because of my cards. It’s my position. Since I’m representing a weaker hand, I want to put more pressure on the blinds so they can’t call with any two cards. When I’m playing with antes, I like to make a bigger raise because there’s dead money in the pot. I feel I need to raise more to make it a harder call. I raise 2.5 times from early position, 3 times from middle position, and 3.5 times the big blind from the button. I hope you enjoyed this lesson, and I’ll see you at the tables.