How much should a pre-flop raise be in a no-limit game?
Many players raise too large before the flop in no-limit games. If the big blind is twice the small blind, or thereabout, and there are no antes, then the most profitable routine opening raise is 2.75 times the big blind.
Usually, you should choose an amount from 2.5 to 3 times the big blind, while rarely varying it with something larger or even with a minimum raise of just twice the big blind.
This might sound strange to you, because you're used to seeing opening raises of 5 times the big blind and more quite often. But 2.75, with mild variation, is appropriate and enough to do the job.
Over a long period of time, opening raises averaging larger than 3 times the big blind become less profitable. And don't forget, calling, rather than raising, is often a good choice, despite what you've heard.
What if there are already other players who voluntarily entered the pot? Then you should add approximately 70 percent of that additional money to your raise.
I'm sharing this information because I want you to know what I've discovered by research. You're invited to agree or disagree below. It's your forum.
-- Mike Caro
(Grammar note: I've deliberately chosen to use numbers above that would normally be spelled as words -- like "3", instead of "three" -- because numbers with decimal fractions are included. I'm aware that nine or less is usually spelled thusly. So, no grammatical nitpicking on that one, please. I'm sure I'll make plenty of other mistakes you can correct.)
Upon what rationale do you base the statement that "a raise of 2.75x is most profitable, first to act"?
I tend to sit in most games with a 100bb start stack, and when that is a common stack size, I agree that a 2.5x - 3x open raise sizing is often better than more typical "big" raises.
That smaller sizing does not act as a major deterrent to getting max value from looser and more aggressive opponents, but it also is not nearly as costly to fold if substantial play back occurs behind when you open the lower end of your raise range. Also, considering that the most common opponent mistake tends to be calling too much, the smaller sizing often encourages bad calls.
I am curious though sir, about your reasons for this statement.
The late great Paul Magriel advised me to open $12 at Venetian 1/2, but sadly I never got a chance to ask him why. I suspect it was just assumed that 1/2 players are horrible with their preflop calling ranges, 3-betting ranges, and post flop play.
But that's not why I am responding. I do believe that your 2.75x is sound advice, and I was wondering about 3-bet sizes, both in and out of position against the opener. The current standard seems to be about 3 times the opener raise, plus 1x for each caller in between. I think that betting a little more might be good from OOP (happens from the blinds) because it might be more desirable to take down the pot instead of taking a flop out of position. Plus if you do get called I think having a smaller stack to pot ratio helps when out of position.
I vary my pre-flop raise sizing based on the following:
- The average position of each player to the line of misery
- To discourage set miners
- The table's definition of raise sizing
If everyone is overly comfortable with the stakes on the table that increases the raise. Inversely, if everyone is playing significantly above what they should be playing raise size is baseline. With upper premium hands I'll raise higher to discourage set mining and have a easier time detecting possible sets. If the table's definition of normal x3 bb preflop raise is x4 or x5 I'll test to see if I can go below that to achieve the same filtering and lower possible cost.
I think the hardest hands to detect are flopped sets and rivered two pairs. Sometimes I'll over three bet to discourage set miners due to my low ability to detect flopped sets.
Criticism and advice on my above play style is welcome and requested.
In my 1-2 game I raise to 12 to 15 pretty routinely. Perhaps its crazy, but raising to 5 is treated as a call at the table. 100% of the people that were going to play will still call it. At 12, still most of the people that were going to limp will call the 12. That makes it a pretty weak table, but it also means that the effect of a raise on actually getting some people to fold doesn't work too well.
But I just figure that its like counting cards. I know what I hold, and since most people will still call, I get to increase the stakes when I know I am ahead in the odds, and play for low stakes or fold when I am weaker.
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