Pro Tip: Never “Raise For Information”
When I sit down at a poker table there are some mistakes I’m guaranteed to see. Raising for information is one of the most common one, especially among amateur players.
Let’s take a look together at a very common situation:
Middle Position raises. Cut off calls. We call on the button with [KQ]. Blinds fold.
Middle Position bets. Cut off calls. We raise.
If this sounds like a play you might make then chances are you are a player that indulges in raising for information.
This hand is easily strong enough to call but nonsensical as a raise.
Players raise for information for a number of reasons, none of which make a compelling enough case to prove raising is better than calling.
1. I want to know if I’m good.
Chance are you will find out really fast. If someone calls there is a good chance you have way the worst of it. After so much action, two players putting in two bets ahead of you, and then you deciding to raise will likely ensure that if they play their hand you are behind. The problem is it just cost you the size of your raise to find out.
If you decided instead to just call and the action on the turn goes Middle Position bets and Cut Off calls chances are you have about as good of a chance as being good had you raised the flop and someone called, but found this out at a fraction of the price, just simply the cost of the call.
You are just giving your opponents more money when they have it, without adding any value to your own hand.
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2. Protect against draws.
This can be somewhat true, however often times players over estimate how often someone will have a draw and the impact of a draw.
If your opponent had an 8 out straight draw :
or a 9 out flush draw:
They would be 2:1 underdogs.
Meanwhile if they have one of the strongest hands in their range.
We would be almost 9:1 underdogs.
Not to mention that these hands are a more likely holding for our opponent.
Lastly if they do have one of these weak hands the real threat is them getting there and betting and us calling or them missing and betting and us folding. Here’s the thing, we know what the draws are and we get to see their action. If they are betting when the spade comes in, we can confidently fold as many of the draws have improved and it is less likely they are bluffing.
If spades are missing then we can more comfortably call them down. Even though we are giving draws a “cheap” look at the next card, it is definitely superior to raising.
4. Won’t be able to call a bet on the turn.
This simply just isn’t true either. Even if your opponent bets a range as strong as:
On the turn
We will still easily have enough equity if they bet the size of the pot or smaller
5. Take control of the hand.
You’ll have control of the hand, the problem is the hand is out of control. The only positive outcome for you for the rest of the hand is that you either turn a King or a Queen, or somehow the hand miraculously checks down. If another bet goes in chances are you are very far behind and have to give up the pot.
6. Keep the pot “small”
While the pot may become bigger by allow your opponent to continue betting you aren’t forced to keep putting money into the pot. There is tremendous value to position. Your opponent has to decide to bet or check, each action giving away more information. There are many players who simply give up with draws, so folding vs them is easy, whereas there are many players who bluff too much, so calling vs them is the obvious choice. By raising you are really diminishing the skill advantage you posses by the virtue of position. The other thing is that you could face a re-raise, especially if players catch on to what you are doing.
There are sensible ways to play hands as calls. Each hand in your range can have an unambiguous defined roll and action. If you take the time to carefully think about what your opponents might have and what you could have you can find appropriate ways develop calling ranges that don’t compromise the profitability of your medium strength hands.
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