Saturday, September 29, 2007

Preflop Raises

Let me start by saying this. I hate Phil Gordon. That doesn't mean I don't read his strategy posts like this one. But again, I don't like him, I don't respect him, and basically, I just think he's an idiot. Does that mean I think I'm a better poker player than he is? Well, obviously not. That doesn't mean I have to like the fool.

Anyways... on to the main purpose of this post. I was reading his strategy post and I thought this was interesting. The following is from Phil Gordon's post:

I like to size my pre-flop raises based on my position. A lot of inexperienced players raise based on the strength of their hands, but good players will pick up on this play before too long. If you always raise four times the big blind with pocket Aces, Kings, and Queens, but only three times with everything else, skilled opponents will notice these patterns and exploit them later on.

If, on the other hand, you always raise a predetermined amount based on your position, your holdings will be much better disguised. By adopting this strategy, it doesn't matter if you're holding pocket Aces or 7-8 off-suit (which is the kind of junk I highly recommend you don't play), your opponents will have a much harder time putting you on a hand after the flop. Cards aside, here's how I like to play before the flop:

From early position − including the blinds − raise two-and-a-half times the big blind. You are more susceptible to a re-raise from this position, so it's best not to risk too many chips. Still, this raise lets everyone know that you mean business.

From middle position, raise three times the big blind. Hopefully a couple of people will already have folded to you, so there's less chance of being re-raised. Hence, you can afford to make a stronger push and possibly steal the blinds.

From middle/late position, raise three-and-a-half times the big blind. You really want to encourage those last couple of players to fold so you can go heads up with the blinds or just steal them outright.

From the button, raise four times the big blind. You either want to steal the blinds or make it really expensive for them to re-raise you.

- END -

So, here's what I thought was interesting. I basically raise the exact same amount no matter what my holdings and what my position is because that's how I try to minimize my tell. So, if I have AA and I raise UTG, I basically click on bet pot in a cash game or I raise 3x the blinds in a tournament. If I'm on the button, in a cash game, I once again, click on bet pot and in a tournament I raise 3x the blinds + the BB per limpers.

But, I'm not arguing that the bet sizing is bad. Rather, I just found it interesting for him to advocate to raise less from EP and raise more in LP. Why? Well, in my thought, I'd rather do the opposite if I were to size my bets based on position. In other words, from UTG or UTG + 1, I want to raise 4x the BB. Why? Because I don't want too many callers. When you're raising from UTG, you don't want too many callers because more often than not, those who call your raises are going to have position on you. So, you want to discourage other callers. If you only raise it to 2.5x the BB, it's very likely that someone with an inferior hand calls... which could entice other players with far inferior hands (in terms of starting hand rank) to join. That might sound good on surface. You think, well, if they are inferior hands, I want them in there. Yeah... if you have AK, you don't mind someone calling your raise with KQ... but what if a KQ's call entices a guy with T9s limp and 68o... etc. In other words, next thing you know, you could end up with 4 or 5 players seeing the flop and you're either 1st or 2nd to act. Not an ideal situation to be in, even if you had AA.

Now, let's say you do the opposite of what the jerk off advocates. You raise more from UTG. And less from the button. Well, on the button, unless you're on a pure steal you don't mind a few callers because in the end, you are last to act. So, you can react based on other players' actions instead of acting first and facing a tough decision on every street. And for those that call your 4x BB from UTG, it's more likely they have some sort of a hand. As opposed to if it's 2.5x the BB, a player can easily call with inferior hands but with position and if you don't hit your hand, you have to act before anyone else. Again, not an ideal situation. If you just raise a little from the button, you're enticing one of the blinds to call AND you have position on everyone on every street.

Am I typing all this to say that Phil is wrong? No. I don't think there's a right answer on how to size your bets. All I'm saying is that it was interesting to note that that was Phil's take. You ask another pro and they will tell you something completely different. What about you? Do you size your bets based on position, based on your holdings, or are they all the same? I hope you are all having a great profitable weekend.


Blinders said...

Flolding all the time makes things so much easier

Anonymous said...

I thought you based all of your play and strategy on his little green book?!?!?

Gnome said...

I always raise the same amount preflop, in large part because I haven't been convinced that any other system is superior. But I can see Gordon's logic that you want to build bigger pots when you're in a better position to win those pots.
And why all the hating on Phil Gordon? I guess it's because of his TV appearances, but TV poker is mostly a waste of time anyway. I actually like the common sense advice and hand examples in both the "Little Green Book" and "Little Blue Book." It was nothing earth-shattering, but it wasn't outright wrong like crap I've read in some other poker books.

jamyhawk said...

I try to keep my pre-flop raises all the same to conceal differences in hand strength. That being said, when I do vary it up, I tend to vary more towards the betting pattern you described. I don't want as many callers from EP and I don't mind a couple of callers from the button, if my hand is strong pre-flop. So I will bet more from early position and less from the button.

AnguilA said...

In MTTs I usually raise 3x from any position with aces or suited connectors alike.

I had read this strategy in his book, and I can see another flaw in that by raising 4x from the button you are going to lose 1 big blind more every time someone pulls a resteal. And the c-bet you make in case you get called becomes bigger by default also, so playing a naked steal can become a lot more costly.

I definitely prefer the same raise sizing.