When Should You Raise in Poker? When Should You Call

When Should You Raise in Poker? When Should You Call?

The difference between raising and calling is often considered as being aggressive versus being cautious. The act of raising is a show of strength against opponents, and one that can be used to scare off players during one-on-one situations. Knowing when to raise can make it easier to build your stack.

The Value of Position

First of all, it is vital to understand the importance of position. Poker pros will always want to know a player s betting position relative to their opponents when analyzing hands, as this can often be more important than cards in determining the winner.

For clarity, the three types of position are early, middle and late. Understanding each type can help to improve decision-making in raising or calling because it helps players know when they are in a position of strength or weakness. As an example, the positions below have been defined for a table with nine players:

  • Early first three players after the small blind and big blind
  • Middle fourth and fifth players after the blinds
  • Late sixth and seventh players, who are just before the blinds

Comparatively, the early players are considered to be in a weaker position as they act before their opponents, while the late players are stronger because they have more information to use in their decision-making. As a result, pro players expect to make more money from the late position.

When to Raise

In the example above, it is extremely advantageous to be the seventh player, who is the last player before the blinds. After seeing a wave of decisions, the late player has a sense of whether or not they can raise to win the hand.

The first situation to raise is pre-flop, which can be done in a couple of ways. Firstly, it can be used as a bluffing technique to steal blinds from players in the early and middle positions when they appear unconfident in their hands.

A second instance is to use strong pocket cards to take blinds from players. This could be with a pair of Aces, which gives the strength to bet heavily and scare off opponents who have not yet made a pair or would be hoping for a straight or a flush.

After the flop, the most effective type of raise is when the late player believes they can bet out their opponents. Checks, folds or low raises are moments when an extremely large raise (two thirds of a stack) can convince opponents they do not want to call. Aggression is the best strategy here, as a low raise might convince players to limp in for the turn and river.

When to Call

Poker pro Bill Edler swears by the strategy of folding 90% of hands from under the gun, which is playing in early position immediately after the big blind. His rationale is that being the first player to act will force him to make a decision without having any information to work with. Consequently, it is tough to ensure that even good hands can be profitable.

For casual players, however, an adjusted version of this strategy can be effective, based on opponents being less experienced than pros. Essentially, this would entail folding low-value cards that do not have straight potential (e.g. 2-7) or a face card with a low kicker (e.g. J-3).

If a great hand appears (e.g. A-Q or K-K), a casual player might feel it worth the risk to call the big blind and see the flop. Casual players can do this at low-stakes or beginner tables where sharks are unlikely to be lurking.

By understanding when to raise or call, it can make it simpler to spot when players are bluffing. As a result, it might be possible to get a great read on an opponent to call and catch them out when they are bluffing from the late position note that this is a more advanced strategy compared to the examples above.

Benefits of Aggression vs. Caution

  • Profitability Being in late position can let players act more aggressively than timid opponents to steal blinds and pots.
  • Bluffing Another benefit of late position is that it can be simpler to bluff when a player does not even have a hand.
  • Restraint Cautious play can protect players from losing large sums of chips when betting from early position.
  • Reading Sitting out when in early position can be a useful time to analyze opponents for reads that can be used against them later.

Choosing when to raise or call is mostly determined by position use the examples above to ensure you know when each will be more effective. To test your newly acquired poker knowledge, go to your favorite site and give it a shot.

How to know when to raise and when to call in online poker?

Renowned experts recommend a tight-aggressive approach when playing online poker. This strategy entails being selective about the hands you play and incorporating a certain degree of aggression while doing so. In poker, aggression is exhibited by betting and raising, not only when you hold a strong hand, but even when you are in a weak position. The contrast of a tight-aggressive strategy is using a loose-passive approach. The common action connected with the loose-passive play is checking and calling. Checking and calling are not associated with winning when playing poker.

The biggest predicament in playing online poker is determining when to raise a bet or call. In most cases, it is difficult to play every hand and realize a profit. Nonetheless, the hand you possess is actually crucial when playing online poker. With this knowledge, it is imperative to note that this game entails dealing with the challenge posed by the player instead of the cards. When making a decision regarding the type of hand you will play, it is important to consider the effectiveness of your next move against the type of hand your competitor is playing. This question may appear simplistic from a general perspective. However, if you use it regularly before making any moves, it has the capacity to win you money.

So, when is it ideal to call or raise your bet? The answer to this query is that it varies with the type of online poker you are playing. For instance, in a game referred to as Texas Holdem Poker, calling or raising the bet fairly common strategies. Since all successful Texas Holdem poker players are stringent when it comes to their starting-hand needs and post flop moves are controlled by pot odds, the overly-aggressive approach rarely delivers tangible outcomes. In contrast, in the seven-card stud, raising and calling are occasionally the best strategies one can utilize when you are playing against what looks like a strong hand or when you are on 6th and 7th streets, whereby pot odds often warrant a decision.

There are certain aspects one can consider before deciding to raise or call. Firstly, if you are checked to by an overly aggressive player, the best strategy is to raise the bet because maniacs tend to bluff their money arbitrarily. If you call, the maniac may give you credit for a hand and fold, which may be costly in subsequent rounds. In other instances, you can find yourself on a draw with enough pot odds in a multi-way pot. This scenario is common when you are in an early position with either a straight or flush draw.

In case you have more than three players waiting to act after you make a move, raising the bet is unlikely to win the pot. In such instances, the best strategy involves calling in. One of the common features of online poker is playing against someone you have defeated or intimidated before. In such instances, you may be reasonably sure that such a competitor will call in assuming he/she can be convinced that you have a superior hand irrespective of whether you are out of position or have modest strength. This situation requires raising the bet on the flop because the opponent is unlikely to raise again.

Poker Skills - When to Raise and When to Call

Most poker players, even relative newcomers to the game, understand that raising is usually a stronger call than calling, but let's take a look at the difference and when to use each play. There will be the rare occasion when it is in your best interests simply to limp along with the hands, but just ensure that this is not a frequent habit. The reasons for this are as follows:

-Calling is a sign of weakness and makes you a target to the other players.

-The person who raises will dictate the progression of the hand as well as the game as a whole.

If you have a solid hand of cards then it is crucial that you step in and assert your dominance, and exploit your head start as firmly as you possibly can. That said, there is always exceptions to rules and so it is strongly advised that you do not try to raise a pot simply with jacks, especially if there has already been more than one raise before the flop.

Ask any poker who has been round the block a few times will be able to tell you this little nugget of information: during a No-Limit match, he who continually calls us making a target of himself and will be quickly targeted by the other players. Where possible, avoid calling at all because it will simply get you into trouble. For those of us who would like things broken a little more simple than that try this for size: if your hand is not useful enough to be used for raising the pot, then you should not be playing at all.

Another danger of calling is that the overwhelming majority of players will then out bet you for any subsequent pots because they do not perceive you as any sort of threat or danger to them. In No Limit, it is all about how you are perceived and so if you raise after the flop then you are perceived as strong and therefore will be less likely to be challenged.

The Raiser Controls the Hand

Whenever you make the decision to raise a hand, you are effectively exerting your authority and control over the players because you are now showing how deadly serious you are. Raising the hand serves as a warning sign: if someone rises against you, they better take you out because you will not show them any mercy. Whilst this is a lesson that is true of any variation of poker, it is especially apt.

After I have raised any hand I will almost always follow this up with a bet on the flop, although the important caveat to this rule is that there must be less than three people currently playing otherwise I will not bother. I use this strategy to good effect because I have thrown down the gauntlet and established the boundaries clearly which means that they have to be on their guard.

Calling In Poker: A Simple Preflop Guide

One of the first things I check when analyzing a players database is how they are calling in poker. Many players leak significantly when calling open-raises preflop, yet alone steals and 3bets. In this article Im going to walk you through analyzing your own preflop calls (primarily 2bets) as well as give some simple guidelines for improving this vital skill. So feel free to open up your database and follow along…or just skip down below!

The first thing we should check is how often we call a 2bet. A 2bet in PokerTracker 4 is simply an open-raise (and then a re-raise of that open is a 3bet, a 4bet is a re-raise of a 3bet, etc.), but there are three main stats we could use during this analysis:

  • Call PF 2bet: Looks at all situations where hero called an open-raise, whether it was a steal or not
  • CC 2Bet PF: Anytime hero called a 2bet without having previously invested any money in the pot (so hero didnt limp, post a blind, etc.)
  • Call Steal: Anytime hero called a 2bet from the CO-SB, aka a steal. However, at this time it only looks at hands from the blinds.

If this is your first time looking at this kind of thing you likely wont know if your stats look good or bad. The thing to remember is that these stats are relative to your game, style, skills, etc. Most players tend to leak if they call 2bets more than 15% of the time, and I see most winning players with call 2bet stats between 4% and 11%. But with that being said, Ive seen players with losing calls at 5%, 8%, 10%, etc. So regardless of your exact numbers here you will want to dig in deeper and see how you perform with certain parts of range. So start by analyzing your winrates when calling preflop raises with hands like 22-66, 77-99, TT, JJ, AJ/KQ, suited connectors, junk, etc.

Your sample size will certainly test the usefulness of some of these filters. For instance, if you play 50k hands you may only have 200 hands where you called with 22-66, and obviously even less when calling with a specific hand like 76s. The bigger your sample, the more reliable the results will be. The smaller your sample, the bigger grain of salt you will want to take before making any strategic adjustments. However, if you are finding a ton of red when running these filters it really hints that you may be calling too many preflop raises (or that you have a sizable postflop issue).

To dig even deeper its best to spend some time studying hand histories that are brought up. Look at your setmines and make sure they were made in correct spots. Check out your suited connector calls…are you IP or OOP? Are stack sizes deep enough? Did you check out the players left to act? Look at your calls with hands like AQ, AJ, and KQ. Could you have 3bet instead? Remember, a big reason why you analyze your database is to find hands you may have otherwise glossed over and to re-analyze them. Find leak areas, fix leak areas, and win more money in the longrun!

Another thing to check out is how you perform when calling steals from the blinds. Here is one way to create the filter in PT4:

Most players are negative but what you need to do is compare your winrate versus folding each time. Had you folded all of these you would be -100bb/100 from the BB and -50bb/100 from the SB. So if you are performing better than that (such as -80bb/100 from the BB and -39bb/100 from the SB) you are performing better than just folding each time. Now you would still want to drill down and see how you are performing with different ranges types…and again…keep sample size in mind before making huge strategic adjustments. But if you are -400bb/100 calling junk hands…chances are you can stop doing that right away and look to either fold or resteal instead.

So those are the basics for analyzing your own preflop calling. But I also wanted to go a step further and give a basic calling in poker guide to help you if your strategy needs a little work. This isnt a fully comprehensive list…but it will get you in the right direction for sure:

Preflop Calls Checklist

  1. Before calling, ask yourself if you could 3bet for value
  2. What will the SPR be if you call?
  3. Whos left to act you do call the raise?
  4. If you call will the pot likely go HU or MW? Is that good or bad for your hand?
  5. If you call will you likely face any bluff squeezes? What is your plan if you face one?
  6. Will you be IP or OOP if you call?
  7. Are stacks deep enough to call with an implied odds hand?
  8. What did the opener likely raise with?
  9. Are there lots of
    IO or RIO against that range?
  10. Would 3betting as a semi-bluff be more valuable?
  11. When applicable, what do you represent by calling?
  12. Do you have a postflop plan if you call?
  13. How often does your hand smash v hit v miss the flop?

Like I said, there are other things to consider, but this list will get you in the right direction more often than not. These questions are part of building a solid mental checklist of sorts that can help you figure out correct lines and rid of leaks more easily. Remember, constantly check your own database and learn from hands youve played before. Keep sample size in mind and make sure to go through actual hand histories when studying. And lastly, make sure you know what goes into a +EV preflop call. By asking yourself and answering the questions listed above you can quickly find spots where either a fold or 3bet are better…and overtime it will become an automatic reaction when facing an open-raise!


My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 500+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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