Just to remind you, in our last column we presented “The 13 Reasons for Raising,” developed in cooperation with my Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group and discussed the first eight on the list.
The 13 Reasons for Raising
• Build the pot • Force out opponents – RSPF • Steal the blinds • Semi-Bluff or Bluff • Get information (How good is my hand?) • Improve betting position • Isolate a “maniac” • Get a FREE card on the next betting round • Force out a bluffer on the river • Buy more outs • Protect your hand • Create or change your image • As a psychological weapon
Today we will examine the last five of these 13 reasons. Compared to the others, these are advanced in concept and less well understood by most poker players. As a consequence, few players make use of them, which is all the more reason for us to learn to use them to gain an edge over our opponents.
(9) Bluff Out a Bluffer on the River. You have reason to believe your one remaining opponent is bluffing. He bets out on the river. If you just call, it’s more likely that his hand is far better than yours if you were drawing to an open-ended middle straight, and missed. Raising—deployed as you would an Esther Bluff—may force him to fold the best hand, leaving the pot to you. You have just bluffed out the bluffer!
(10) Improve Your Outs. You saw the flop with A-Q offsuit, a premium drawing hand. The flop didn’t help but you hold two overcards to the board. You have six outs—three aces and three queens. Using the 4-2 rule, your card odds are about 3-to-1 against. Well, not really. If an opponent holds a king, your three outs for the queens are somewhat tenuous. If a king falls on the board, your queen outs are highly questionable and dangerous. By raising on the flop, if you force out an opponent holding K-rag, your outs are so much stronger.
(11) Protect Your Hand. On the flop, you catch a middle or low two-pair from the big blind. It’s a rainbow flop with only one overcard to your two-pair. But there are two cards of the same suit. The more opponents staying to see the turn, the more likely your two-pair will not hold up. The small blind bets out. You put him on top pair. Your best play is to raise, hoping to force out the players behind you. Then it’s less likely that one of them will draw out on you.
(12) Create/Change Your Image. Your opponents have watched you play and have formed an image in their minds. Say you started off playing tight. Now, when you decide to pull a bluff and raise, your opponents are more likely to respect and fear your raise and fold—making it easier to bluff. After a while, you are bound to get caught bluffing when your opponent has a good hand. Now your opponents know you bluff. Your image has changed. Next time you raise with the nuts, you are likely to be called—so you gain more chips than you otherwise would have if you did not change your image.
(13) A Psychological Weapon. Raising can serve to disturb an opponent’s equanimity. In the extreme, he may lose control of his emotions, especially if he is a tight player and losing. Agitated, he is wont to make poor decisions—all to your advantage. If your opponent gets angry, as noted in Dr. Alan Schoonmaker’s classic book, The Psychology of Poker, he is more likely to take foolish chances. To be continued. . .
George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners! and Hold’em or Fold’em?—An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and teaches poker at the Claude Pepper Sr. Citizen Center in Los Angeles. Contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org.