Calling or Re-raising Before The Flop

Before we delve into heads-up or short-handed on the flop, let us get back to other before the flop questions. One is whether to call or re-raise out of the big blind when you have decided to play. To know about this answer you have to understand why you re-raise in short-handed hold'em. That is, you do it for future hands, not necessarily for that current holdem hand.

For example, you are in the big blind, you hold

And the player on the button raises, and only two of you are playing. If this was the only hand that you were concerned with, you might be better off calling and trapping your rival. But poker is a game of lot of hands and you need to avoid adversary from raising with almost anything at this point. He needs to know that he's in danger of a re-raise. Thus you often re-raise for the purpose of future hands and not the hand that you are holding.

If you never were to play another hand in your real life, you shouldn't raise as much. But against an aggressive player who is going to consistently take the advantage of his position to steal, yet perhaps flop something, you should re-raise him more than might seem logical.

For example, you are playing in a $20-$40 holdem game and your rival knows that when you play you often charge him an extra bet. He can't say himself, "I'm going to put in $40 to try to win $30." Now he will say, "I'm risking $60 to win that $30," because he often re-raises.

He is going to win some of those pots but still if he knows he's up against a re-raiser he's going to be less likely to be tricky. Therefore in a short-handed holdem game when you are defending out of the big blind you should possibly re-raise about one out of four times that you play. (In the big blind you would play few hands but re-raise most of the time to get out the big blind. Go to The First Two Cards: Live Blind.)

Assuming you re-raised, you should be inclined to do a lot of betting on the flop. You should bet most of the time except for your weakest hands and perhaps your best hands. Correct advice would be to check the weakest 20 percent and the best 20 percent of your hands. And, with your best 20 percent, you should check-raise on the flop.

For example, if you re-raise with

And the flop comes

You should go ahead and bet. Only check those hands that have almost no chance to win. Bet anything that has a chance.

When trying to decide which hands to just call with and which hands to re-raise with in the big blind before the flop, you shouldn't think in the actual categories. You should re-raise with the very best hands almost every time and never with the average playing hands. As for the in between hands, you should sometime re-raise and sometimes just call. The JT stated above would fall in this "occasional" category. However, if you hold an AK or a big pair, you should charge your rival an extra bet almost every time.

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