Taking a look at no limit cash games can be very instructive and in this article we will explore reasons why you raise in no limit hold’em. Firstly we will look at one of the most common types of situation in which many players ultimately get themselves into trouble playing deep stack cash game play and that is the early position raise. Let us say that you have Ac-Kc in a NL100 cash game and in this instance then your options are to raise, call or fold assuming, of course, that you are the first to enter the pot after the blinds.
Now, although folding is technically an option, in reality it should never be something you consider. Your hand is one of the best starting hands in poker but it does have weaknesses as do all hands in no limit hold’em, when played with a deep stack. Remember that even aces can be weak because irrespective of what you hold before the flop, you have still only seen two cards out of the possible seven that can be dealt. So, putting some numbers onto that means you have only been dealt around 28% of the possible total number of cards and that kind of puts A-A into perspective when played out of position in deep stack situations.
But anyway, let us get back to the A-Ks hand and now we have established that you cannot fold and so the remaining options are to call the blind or raise. Most players would say that a raise here is automatic because you are out of position and a raise helps to thin the field. Well while it is true to say that you are out of position, it isn’t totally correct to say that your hand will reduce the field.
In a deep stack situation, many hands that would have limped will call a raise anyway. If you raise to 3.5bb then what you are doing essentially is building the pot. The raise is in no way definitive and in no way will it automatically end the hand. So you will get called by players to act that have position over you a large percentage of the time. If you get a good flop like A-J-9 then you cannot be sure that your hand is the best one. If you bet and take the pot on the flop then every pot that you win will be small. However even if just a single flop bet gets called then the pot is starting to escalate and you still only have one pair.
So, open raising can be fraught with danger as well, because your raise from early position has telegraphed your hand and your raise was to only 3.5bb. That is only 2.5bb more than a limp and only 1.5bb more than a minimum raise, both of which are derided by many players in the poker fraternity. But in a full ring game, the problems that are associated with pot escalation and your opponents knowing the content of your hand, often mean that raising is not as good of a play as many people believe it to be.