online poker

When decisions are close in value

Let us say that you are playing poker in eight tables of NL100 at full ring and two players limp with 100bb stacks and it then gets folded to you on the button with Jc-10c. Now this is a play where you cannot really do anything wrong by limping or by raising. The hand clearly has big pot potential and so you should definitely play the hand and not fold it.

If one of the two limpers had a minimum stack then I would certainly limp and not raise but I have numerous reasons for raising here. Firstly the raise helps me to get control of the hand and to build a big pot when I have position. Secondly the raise could fold out all of the remaining players and I get a profit without rake of 3.5bb which is a very good return. Any un-raked profit is good profit. I can allow the betting to expand at my own pace and I am under no obligation to c-bet the flop.

The downsides of online poker

However there are downsides to the play because if you raise then you open yourself up to a re-raise and that drastically cuts down your implied odds hugely. This then denies you the opportunity to see the flop and to see the potential of your hand. Also if someone has limped in with a big pair then you have made a bad move by raising and you did exactly what the limper was looking for. Another downside is that it gives you less room to manoeuvre later on down the hand if one or two players call because the pot is going to be at least 20bb with three full betting rounds to go.

Also you raise looks exactly what it is and that is a steal raise and so you may find that your opponents simply do not believe you. If I made this play then there is no way that I would blindly c-bet as I would be hoping to only c-bet under certain specific conditions. These were if the hand was heads up and I could represent a hand on the flop that tied in with my raise.

Using the position

However one of the real benefits of the raise is that it allows me to use my position to my advantage and the best two ways to do that are to be selective as to as and when you c-bet. You can see what your opponents do and by that I mean if they bet or check and if you c-bet the flop and get called then you do not have to barrel the turn. This then allows you to see the river card and this is a play that tends to get neglected by many players who are too aggressive.

But the upshot of the play is that you can go either way with it and there is probably not much to choose between the two. Although one point needs to be made and this is that the variance is clearly much higher when you raise instead of limping along. This is why bankroll size is so crucial to your overall chances of making money. Short bankrolls do not allow you any flexibility to be able to make aggressive plays like these and this is why I advise bankrolls of at least 40-50 buy ins even at full ring.