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poker not folding

Leak #2 - Not Raising enough in poker

Leak #2 "not raising enough" is symbolized by a weightlifter failing to lift his barbell despite much effort and sweat. What this means is clear, you must raise in Texas Hold'em Poker, but it might be difficult, even if you try hard.

Remember this image when you feel that you are not raising enough. Seek any opportunity to raise, and raise.

Leak #2 goes hand in hand with leak #1, because it requires to overcome our natural tendencies, especially when we start to play texas holdem on the Internet. On one hand it is rare to hold monsters and the norm is to have a mediocre hand or a draw. It may seem dangerous to novice holdem players to raise with such hands, risking additional chips with a hand not sure to be best.

On the other hand when the new player has the long awaited monster such as flopping a set, he is so afraid to scare his opponents away that he chooses the slow playing route and does not raise.

There is no doubt that it is vital to raise sufficiently. In his latest book Cash Games, Volume 1 & 2, Dan Harrington focuses on only two styles: tight-aggressive and loose-aggressive. It is very important to raise frequently i.e. to be aggressive. This is what the preferred playing style, tight-aggressive is all about. Without much raises and aggression, it is hard to compete effectively in modern Texas Hold'em poker.

Similarly to folding, there are four betting rounds where you can raise, pre or postflop. You should raise your strong hands preflop. If you want to achieve a PFR (percent hands you raise preflop) of one-third your VPIP, it means that you must raise 33% of your starting hands, mostly the top 33%. Johnny Chan is famous for limping in early position with rockets, but this is a move that we strongly discourage to new holdem players.

{QQ+,AK} are hands you can and should almost always raise preflop from any position. In late position, you can raise a very wide range of hands, such as any pair, any suited ace & any Broadway. This is just an example, it is at your discretion to decide your starting ranges. You must use a starting hand chart in order to determine which hands to raise or 3-bet preflop.

Sometimes new players ask, "why is it so important to raise preflop?". There are a few reasons for raising. If you hold a hand like JJ in middle position and are first to act, this is one of the top five best possible hole cards. Let us say the top five hands are {AA,KK,QQ,JJ,AK}. You only have 3.1% to get these hands, and similarly for your opponents. Also JJ wins 77.7% of the time against any random card.

If first to act in middle position, you only face 5-6 opponents yet to act. In all likelihood you have the best hand, and in any case JJ has positive EV preflop. So you raise to increase the profit that you will make "on average", this is what positive EV means.

Other reasons for raising preflop are to make garbage hands fold. Say you play on at online room with lots of loose fishy opponents such as Carbon Poker. You have KK in early position. It is a very bad idea to limp in this event, as this leaves the door open for all these loose players with A-rag, which is the worse enemy of KK. If you have KK and one player has Ax, there is 18.4% chance that the flop contains an ace. Do not let someone knock you out cheaply when you have kings.

Raising at or after the flop is much more complicated than raising preflop, which can be performed nearly automatically if you know your preflop strategy perfectly well. Postflop, you may raise because you want to give bad odds to a villain who is betting-drawing against you. You may raise to extract more value from a very big hand. You may raise to scare away weak hands that may have got a lucky card at the river. You may raise as a bluff.

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