This question obviously applies to pot limit poker and no limit poker. In fixed limit poker, you are forced to raise a set amount.
First of all – I should note that there is no “set rule” in regard to the amount of money you should raise preflop in poker. The amount you should raise is really dependent on so many factors. For example – the amount you raise in certain spots may differ based on your position at the table, or your hand, or the players you are playing against. Or if it is a tournament setting then you need to be aware of the chip counts, the current levels of the blinds, the players remaining – so many factors.
However if you are a beginner to poker and are looking for a set answer – the easiest one is “3x the blinds +1 for every call.”
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So for example – you’re playing a game where the small blind is $1, and the big blind is $2. If it is folded to you, then you would raise to $6 – which is 3x$2, or 3 times the big blind.
But what if a player in front of you has already called? Well instead of 3x$2, it’s now 4x$2 and so we would raise $8 instead.
Raising a nice set amount like 3x the big blind is a very standard play. The reason you should do this, especially if you are a beginner, is because 90% of the players will raise this same amount. By ALWAYS raising 3x the big blind, no matter your hand, it means you don’t give away any information about your hand.
Some players make the mistake of raising 4x or 5x the big blind pre-flop in poker when they have a big hand like AA. These same players will raise only 2x the big blind if they are bluffing so they can get away from their hand if someone re-raises. By making that mistake, it makes it very easy to know how to play against that type of player, and it gets to the point where they may as well be playing with their cards face up. Don’t make that mistake!
The 3x amount is a great amount to raise, because it really puts the tough decision on the other person – especially in the blinds. It’s usually just the right amount to really make the small blind or big blind “think” – and any time you force the hard decision on the other player – the better.
Of course this is very basic – as we’ve said above, the actual amount you raise pre-flop may also be opponent dependent. For example, if you feel you are a good post-flop player and can outplay your opponents, then you may want to raise smaller amounts pre-flop. By doing that, you are enticing more players to participate in the pot, where you can outplay them.
On the flip side – if you are up against a loose, aggressive player who calls a lot of pots then blind bets the flop – then that’s the type of person you want to bet big against. If you pick up pocket aces you can raise 4-6x the pot, knowing full well the opponent will likely call and blind fire a bet at the pot when the flop comes up.
Tournaments are where raising in poker REALLY gets complicated. Stack sizes come into play in a big way for example, and you really have to think about why you are raising, and what you hope to accomplish out of it.
For example – if the big blind only has 5x the big blind left – you could be raising to bully him around. This is something that is a common move when you get down to the wire in terms of payouts for the tournament. If you are doing that, you may want to raise the full 5x so you are telling him he has to go all-in or fold. So then the hands you raise with change – if the player is a tight player then you can open with a wider variety, and if the player is a loose, risky player then you really only want to raise with hands you will get called with, and you are happy to go to a showdown with.
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Additional Pre-flop Raising in Poker Questions:
Should you raise more or less depending on your position at the table?
Good question. Many people vary their opinion on this. Phil Gordon, in Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book, advocates that you should raise a different amount, depending on what position you are in at the table.
Gordon advises that you should raise 2.5x the pot if you are in an early position, 3x in middle position, 3.5x the big blind if you are in the cutoff or button/dealer position, and then 3x the blinds if you are in the small blind position.
Those are solid guidelines that a beginner should probably stick with.
The answer to the question How much should you raise preflop in poker? is also applicable for the following questions: