• July 24, 2021

Poker Strategy: Mastering the Pre-flop Bet

The bet before the flop is one of the most crucial moments in a poker game. This is where players with hopeless hands, timid natures or lack of poker skill get quickly separated from the true players in a given hand. The bet before the flop often sets the tone for the entire hand.
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When to Call
There are two good reasons to call–you believe you have the best hand and don’t want to scare off your victims or your hand has at least the basic potential to be a winner and the bet is low enough to make it worth the investment to see the next card. As a general rule, any pair of face cards is good enough to warrant a call against just about anything except an all-in, and a high pair of aces is good enough to call an all-in. Lower pairs and unmatched high cards are trickier–you need to evaluate your competition and the amount of the bet to see if it’s worth your while. Suited or sequential high cards increase your odds of winning a bit and should be considered a little more strongly for a call. If the only bet is the blind and you have a proportionately large collection of chips, it’s perfectly acceptable to go along for the ride with a lesser hand, too–there is luck involved in this game, after all.
When to Raise
The raise is sometimes seen as an aggressive move, and it certainly can be, but in some cases it is almost a public service, clearing out the bystanders with bad cards who might get struck by pure dumb luck and win a hand that should have gone to a more skilled player. The two times to do a raise are when you think you have winning hand (or the framework for a winning hand) and when you’re bluffing. Potential winning hands, again, are often high pairs or suited and/or sequential high cards. Bluffing is a nice strategy that gets used way too often. A bluff is most effective if you almost never do it, so you truly catch your opponent off guard and make him believe you have a winning hand. A bluff is generally more effective after the flop than before, because before the flop, everyone knows the best hand you can possibly have is a high pair.
How Much to Raise
If you are the first one to raise pre-flop, the standard is to bet three times the big blind (BB). For more aggressive play, you can add one more multiple of the big blind for each person who calls ahead of you. For instance, if the BB is 200 and you’ve got one person ahead of you who calls, the normal play for a good hand would be to raise to 600. If you want to be aggressive, you could go to 800 (adding the 200 for the person who called ahead of you). This is generally the right amount to drop the weakest hands but still keep a few players in to give you a chance to make some money.
Overcoming the “All-in Idiot”
Just about every online poker table will feature the one guy who goes all-in before every flop. Once you recognize this tactic, your best bet is to fold and let somebody else fleece the fool or lose to his dumb luck, unless you have a high pair. With a high pair, you have a pretty good chance of doing the fleecing, and you can benefit from this person’s reckless play.
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Steve Carr

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