In Texas No Limit Hold’Em raising can be both a good thing and a bad thing. There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself before you go risking more chips than you need to. Early on, in tournaments, you really need to restrict your raising duties to premium (GROUP 1) hands only. Your goals are to see flops cheaply and go from there.

When raising yourself you have to consider the following for it to be an effective weapon…

  1. What position am I in?
    Raising from 1st position (‘under the gun’) is not going to be advisable unless you possess a VERY strong hand to start with (QQ minimum) whereas raising ‘on the button’, or in last position, can be achieved with 7 2 off suit in the right conditions.
  2. What happens if I get re-raised?
    There may be times when your initial raise gets re-raised by a player closer to the button. How you play from there depends very much on what you raised with to start with. In these instances though, unless you hold a VERY strong hand, it’s usually better to fold.
  3. Ask yourself WHY are you raising?
    In a ‘proper’ game (where you are playing in a FREEZEOUT or where rebuys are not in play) nobody raises without a reason. What’s yours? Are you trying to thin the field? Are you hoping that someone will think you are bluffing & call…if they do what is your plan then?

When calling raises pre-flop you have some other things to consider… 

  1. Who is raising and what position are they in?
    Players always tend to raise the closer to the button they are. This gives the impression that they have a hand which to do this with. This is not always the case. If you have half a decent hand then try a re-raise!  
  2. Will their raise affect the number of players in the pot?  
    Players late in the play will sometimes DOUBLE the big blind by way of a raise. This usually has ZERO effect on players who are still in the pot at the time of the raise and most, if not all, will call the extra bet. What they may not call though is a bet of say 10xBB. Pot odds go down drastically when you’re the only player prepared to call that raise with Jd Td and what seemed like a good hand prior to the raise may now be big trouble if you decide to call alone.
  3. What is the chance that someone will re-raise the raiser after you have called?
    Being the meat in a sandwich is no fun if a player to act after you then decides to re-raise again once you’ve called. A raising war then breaks out and you’re in the middle. You’ll need a group 1 hand to withstand the battery.

Group 1 hands, especially AA, hold up well by going ‘all-in’ before the flop. Why? By going all-in from the off with hands like AA & KK you’re every only likely to get players with solid hands to call your bet. 

In No Limit Hold’Em for beginners I always say to go ‘all-in’ pre-flop with a pair of Aces or Kings, go half your stack on Queens, and go one third of your stack on Tens & Jacks. Anything else is just a call. Your goal is to get to see the flop as cheaply as possible and to flop a monster or a monster draw. Obviously this is a simplistic approach but you can tailor it to the circumstances you find yourself in at the time you get these cards to begin with. Where a flop does absolutely nothing for you (except in the case of AA where you’re in till the end) then at least there might be a chance you CAN get away from the hand without further loss. That though…takes a great deal of discipline!

Raising pre-flop in No Limit Hold’Em is more powerful when you’re in late position. Not only does this ensure that the players still to act behind you, for which now there may be only 1 or 2, may decide its not worth playing and ‘give you the button’ but it then allows you to control all the action that follows after the flop, turn & river cards appear.

Another important tool in Texas Hold’Em is the FREE CARD for which we’re now about to demonstrate…


FREEZEOUT – Where NO further chips can be bought once the initial chips are purchased

Rebuys – Where further amounts of chips can be bought once the initial chips have been purchased

All-In – To put ALL your chips into the pot

Half Your Stack – To put HALF (50%) of whatever chips you have into the pot

Third Your Stack – To put a THIRD (33%) of whatever chips you have into the pot

FREE CARD – When drawing to flushes & straights it’s sometimes appropriate to bet, after the flop, in order to maybe get a FREE CARD after the turn card has been dealt.

Need To Know Block:

  1. Generally only raise from LATE POSITION (unless holding a group 1 hand)
  2. NEVER call a raise, in early position, with anything less than a group 1 hand
  3. BEGINNERS: Always go ALL-IN, before the flop, with AA or KK

Next week’s article is called "Free Card"