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StrategyWeekly No Limit

Bet and Raise Sizes (3) - Raise Sizes Postflop

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Bet and Raise Sizes (3) - Raise Sizes Postflop

by MiiWiin

In the final part of our column, you'll get to know the different raise sizes postflop. During preflop play as well as the normal bet sizes you've got to know nearly all the basics.

Options

Postflop you have three main options:

  • Bet
  • Raise (check/raise) heads-up
  • Raise (check/raise) multi-way

The aims

What do you want to achieve with a raise?

There are two main intentions here as well: either you want to extract value with a very strong hand or you want to make a better hand fold with a bluff.

Many other factors play a role in this decision. For example, if you're holding a very good made hand on a drawy flop against a lot of opponents, you want to protect your hand and ruin your opponents odds. The aspect of value applies here, as if you bet high here, your opponent may make mistakes with loose calls.

Image and balancing are additional factors, however it's not about the perfect spots for bluff raises here, rather the correct raise sizes.

Mathematics

You can't get by without this.

One thing needs to be clear: with a raise or check/raise you need more fold equity than with a normal bet.

You also need to take a look at other streets. Can you bluff on a later street at all with the resulting pot? Or will you be over-inflating the pot?

With a 2/3 pot size bet you need roughly 40% fold equity. If we raise, the situation looks like this:

EXAMPLE 1: RAISE THREE TIMES A 2/3 POT SIZE BET

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BU with X , X
3 folds, Hero raises $1.00, 1 fold, BB calls

Flop: ($2.10) 4h5d7s (2 players)
BB bets $1.50, Hero raises $4.50,...

A raise poses two questions:

  • How much fold equity do you need?
  • What odds do you give your opponent?
FOLD EQUITY

After Villain's donk bet, the pot size is $3.60 ($2.10 + $1.50).

Raise size: $4.50 => 4.50/(4.50 + 3.60) = 55.5% required fold equity

ODDS

Your opponent needs to pay another $3.00, there's $8.10 in the pot. So he gets odds of 1 to 2.7.

In other words: he needs (3/(3+8.1)) 27% equity for a call

You need to ask the question here: is this enough? Could the board give your opponent many draws? Do you believe he could have enough implied odds on later streets so that it wouldn't be a mistake for him to call?

Pot size raise

A pot size raise is a strong weapon. It's a big raise, which may restrict how the hand plays out. However, the player has the advantages of...

  • …extracting a lot of value
  • …generating fold equity
  • …protecting and forcing Villain to make mistakes

With a pot size raise you give your opponent odds of just 2:1 odds - just as much as with a pot size bet.

CALCULATING A POT SIZE RAISE

Calculating a pot size raise isn't so easy.

Note the following: current pot + 3 x the opponent's bet

If you raise to this amount, you give your opponent odds of 2:1.

EXAMPLE 2: RAISE POT SIZE RAISE

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BU with X , X
3 folds, Hero raises $1.00, 1 fold, BB calls

Flop: ($2.10) 4h5d7s (2 players)
BB bets $1.50, Hero raises $6.60,...

POT SIZE

Current pot + 3 x the opponent's bet

$2.10 + 3 x 1.50 = $6.60

FOLD EQUITY

After Villain's donk bet the pot is $3.60 ($2.10 + $1.50)

Raise size: $6.60 => 6.60/(6.60 + 3.60) = 64.7% required fold equity

ODDS

Your opponent needs to pay another $5.10, there are $10.20 ($2.10 + $1.50 + $6.60) in the pot. This gives him odds of exactly 1:2.

In other words: he needs  (5.10/(5.10+10.20)) 33% equity for a call.

Disadvantages of a pot raise

EXAMPLE 3:

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BU with X , X
3 folds, Hero raises $1.00, 1 fold, BB calls

Flop: ($2.10) 4h5d7s (2 players)
BB bets $1.50, Hero raises $6.60, BB calls $6.60

Turn: ($15.30) Jh (2 players)
BB checks, Hero...

As already mentioned, you often take the option of a 2nd barrel as a bluff or balancing bet. In a $15.30 pot you have just $17.40 left, so just over a pot size. Every reasonable bet here will practically commit you.

You could always bet really small here, however then the question arises, why raise a pot size at all on the flop?

This method is recommended against weak players who like to call against the odds. Calling stations should pay for calling too much. It's not bad to be commited against them on the turn either, as these players aren't interested.

Ideal raise size

Hence, a good raise size is a 2/3 pot size. If your opponent bets around 2/3 of the pot, raising to 3 times as in example 1 is sufficient. When in doubt, a touch more.

EXAMPLE 4: IDEAL RAISE SIZE

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BU with X , X
3 folds, Hero raises $1.00, 1 fold, BB calls

Flop: ($2.10) 4h5d7s (2 players)
BB bets $1.50, Hero raises $5.00,...

Exceptions

The examples mentioned principally relate  to a heads-up situation in position. However, there are lots more spots in which you can't assume a raise size so easily.

Semi-bluffs

EXAMPLE 5: SEMI-BLUFF

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BU with As6h
3 folds, Hero raises $1.00, 1 fold, BB calls

Flop: ($2.10) 4h5d7h (2 players)
BB bets $1.50, Hero raises $4.50, BB raises $22.50 (all-in), Hero...

With semi-bluffs you have the following problem: should you raise/call or raise/fold?

Essentially, a raise/fold with a good draw is a shame. If you don't think you can go broke profitably, then just call the flop.

In this example you have the following problem:

Required equity: you need to pay $18 for a $50 pot => 36% required equity

You indicate a range with which Villain will go broke (superficially): JJ+, 44-77, AKs, 76s, 54s

Equity analysis
Board
7h5d4h
  Equity
Win  Split
Loss
Hand
Player 1
34.98%
31.57%
6.82%
61.61%
As 6h
Player 2
65.02%
61.61%
6.82%
31.57%
JJ+, 44-77, 76s,
54s, AhKh
As you can see, you'd have a close fold. However, if you raise higher on the flop, it would be a call (with a raise to $5.50 you would need 33.3% equity!

You always need to bear this in mind.

IMPORTANT  
This example is meant to show you that with a raise, you always need to be sure what happens to further action (especially with semi-bluffs where it could turn into a question of odds). It doesn't mean that a raise is obligatory here, what it does mean is that your goal should be to regularly commit yourself with big raises with a draw. 

DRAWY BOARDS

You should generally bet and raise higher on drawy boards, now matter what you're holding (bluff, semi-bluff, made hand, nuts, etc.). That's why a raise of around a pot size is most justified.

That's why it's also clear that you're committed more regularly with a draw, you can't afford to make little raises on this kind of flop.

MULTI-WAY

In a multi-way pot it's generally time to come clean. Using tricky bluff raises here is generally a poor play, as you are running against a lot of hands and so you'll achieve less fold equity. There's no need for a balancing aspect either, as multi-way pots are generally played straightforward.

EXAMPLE 6: MULTI-WAY

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
Hero ($25)
BU ($25) (TAG)
SB ($25) (calling station)
BB ($25) (calling station)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 5h5c
2 folds, Hero raises $1.00, BU calls, SB calls, BB calls

Flop: ($4.00) 4h5dJd (2 players)
SB bets $2.00, BB calls $2.00, Hero raises ???

It should be made clear that you have to raise in this situation. The question is only: how much?

You need to raise for value here and protect at the same time. The fact that you're only doing this for value is irrelevant. 

A pot size raise would be appropriate here, for this you need to offer your opponents odds of 2:1.

You can add the first bet on the flop on top of this in a multi-way pot, as dead money so to say.

This would make the pot about $6 ($4.00 + $2.00) and the bet $2.00

Current pot + 3* your opponent's bet

$6.00 + 3* 2.00 = $12.00

ODDS

Your opponents will have to pay $10, there are $20 ($4 + $2 + $2 + $12) in the pot. This gives them odds of precisely 1:2.

FISH

With very weak players you should primarily think about value, as always. Balancing doesn't play a role in such a situation and you should spare yourself bluffs if you can. You can experiment with your raises here.

You can raise high enough to force Villain to make mistakes, however if you have a safe hand you might give him excellent odds.

DEEP STACKED

In deep stacked play, different rules again may apply. This will let you achieve more fold equity, extract significantly more value and, as a result of the big remaining stack, you'll still have space to bluff barrel on the turn and the river.

READS / MIN-RAISES

We only want to briefly touch on the subject of min-raises.

Min-raises have advantages and drawbacks. On one hand, they're very cheap bluffs which only need to work occassionally. On the other, they extract less value and don't protect. In addition, the fold equity drops as a lot of players will be reluctant to fold to a min-raise.

Reads on your opponents could be decisive here. For example, if your opponent is a rock or a very reserved TAG, then you can work with this method provided the fold equity remains almost the same.

The same applies to weak players who overplay marginal hands. If you're already holding the nuts on the flop, you can min-raise as well (min-check/raise), if you think this will mean you get regularly paid off by weaker hands.

The trick here is to experiment. Just remember, thinking players will watch out for this. So this should mainly be used against weak players in safe situations.

3-bet pots

EXAMPLE 7:

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25) (TAG)
Hero ($25)
SB ($25)
BB ($25)

Preflop: Hero is BU with X , X
2 folds, CO raises $0.75, Hero raises $2.50 2 fold, CO calls

Flop: ($5.25) 3hJhQs (2 players)
CO bets $3.00, Hero...

There's not a lot of space for large raises in a 3-bet pot. Should you want to make amove there, then you need to work with smaller raises. Should you wish to make a pot size raise here, then you can also push all-in right away, because a raise/fold won't be possible anymore.

Because of the pot size, fold equity here is significantly higher, as your opponent can expect any implied odds.

He'll also rarely call a raise out of position, if at all, he'd rather either fold or push. So a raise to $7 is enough here (provided it's necessary and makes sense), where Villain could still calculate fold equity against you with a push.

4-bet pots

These are very rare and offer hardly any space for moves, as both players will generally only have just over one pot size left. Under normal circumstances, a raise here will have the same significance as a push.

» SUMMARY

As you have seen, raise sizes can be a science in themselves. Every spot is different, you're acting against different opponents with different ranges, each opponent reacts differently to your raises.

Remember the basics: don't guarantee your opponent free cards too cheaply, extract value and if you bluff, create as much fold equity as possible.

You can forget about balancing against weak players, just try to see this spot in a vacuum and try to play as +EV as possible.

You also need to watch out for deception against regular players and you'll meet a lot of them. Raise here according to the board and not your hand, so it's harder to put you on a hand (or range).