Why Raise in Poker

A popular question amongst new (and even some veteran) poker players is why it makes sense to raise as opposed to limping into a pot. The argument that most players make is that it is cheaper to limp into a pot, that way they can fold if they miss the flop. On the surface, and to a novice poker player, this might seem logical. The reality is, however, that you will see much more profitability if you assume the role of aggressor whenever possible. When I am playing poker online, it is always easy for me to identify the weak players because they will be limping into pots far too often. This doesn’t mean that you should be looking to raise each and every hand that you are dealt, that would be a recipe for disaster, instead what it means is that you should take advantage of your opportunities to raise instead of making the weaker play, limping in. Now, does this mean that you shouldn’t be calling other player’s open raises? No, in fact there will be plenty of situations where it will make a lot more sense to call a raise than to re raise. It is easier to determine when you should be raising in poker after you first understand why you are raising.

Losing Value

Pretend that you are dealt a hand like AJ in Texas Hold’em. If you limp into the pot you will be skipping a chance to start the action with a raise. Now players will be limping into the pot with hands like A8 and A9, hands that probably would have called your raise. If you flop an ace you will now be getting less money from the hand than you would have been able to had you made a raise pre flop. Players are often scared that they are going to force folds from weaker hands, but this fear just doesn’t make any sense. Sure, there will be times that you force out hands that are weaker when you make a raise, but you might be forgetting all of the situations where you get a call when you raise pre flop and make a lot more money as a result. It is much more difficult to build up a pot when you make a strong hand if you play it passively from the beginning.

Having the Upper Hand

Even if you raise pre flop and end up missing the flop, all will not be lost. You didn’t waste the money that you invested pre flop. You can’t forget about all of the flops where your pre flop raise would have come in handy, especially when you make a strong hand and have your opponent beat. This isn’t the only reason you should be raising, however. You will have the upper hand on the flop even when you miss. The other players will give you credit for a stronger hand simply because you had initiated the action pre flop. This will allow you to make continuation bets that get respect. Making a raise is not something that is only going to be profitable when you end up making a strong hand, it can pay dividends when you miss a flop as well.