The Fish Call, the Sharks Raise

Patrik Antonius

In Limit (and sometimes even No-Limit) games, you'll see a lot of "Raise, Call, Call and Call" going on. Occasionally, you'll want to limp in on hands, but don't make a habit of it. These are the key reasons why you should avoid temptation in this case:

  1. Calling shows weakness
  2. The raiser controls the hand

If you have a good hand you need to be in there raising, otherwise when you call and hit a draw it will be very easy to spot. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule; you wouldn't raise a pot with jacks if there have already been two pre-flop raisers, and you wouldn't want to bet your draws with more than a couple people in the pot.

Calling Shows Weakness

Any good player knows that, in No-Limit, anyone who calls constantly is a fish saying, "Hit me with your best shot." Calling hands will just get you in trouble most of the time. If the hand isn't good enough to raise, it's not good enough to play in the first place.

Another hazard of calling is that most good players will bet you out of pots you should have won simply because you called pre-flop. When you raise pre-flop you show strength and most players will fold to your bets if they missed the flop.

The Raiser Controls the Hand

When you raise a hand you show dominance by revealing your serious intentions to your opponents. If they miss the flop, you'll take no prisoners. This is true for any type of poker game, but more so for No-Limit. In Limit it's harder to bet people out of pots since the big bet is always small and constant. If there's a short-stacked player in a Limit game, you may be able to bluff him out of some pots after you raise.

After raising any hand, I almost always bet the flop as long as there are fewer than three people in the pot. I've already showed strength pre-flop so even if they hit the flop they must play very carefully. Most of the time your opponent won't hit strongly enough to call your raise on the flop.

Here's a good example of why sharks raise pre-flop:
Two people limp in pre-flop and you raise with Ace-King. You totally miss the flop and a player who limped and then called your raise has 8-8. The flop comes J-Q-5 and you bet out. He immediately folds even though he had the winning hand.

Be the raiser, not the caller.

See you at the tables.

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