This is a general lesson on how to steal the blinds as well as rake a big pot. If you’re the first to enter the pot after the blinds in a No Limit Texas Hold ’em game, you should never call. If you aren’t prepared to raise, you need to throw your hand away. Too many people are afraid of what other people have rather than play the players rather than playing the cards.
If you are wondering why, this is very simple. In raising, you put pressure on the blinds as well as the other players at the table, making them actually consider just how strong or weak their hands really are. The chances are, that in raising, you’ll force the marginal and weaker hands to fold before they ever see the flop. This in turn will limit the number of players that you have to beat. Also, in doing this pre-flop means that the players that may have beaten you with those weaker hands are now gone and this will increase your chances of winning. Pay attention to the players around you even if they are not in the hand they will often give you signs that they had a good hand that they have now folded.
The next real question that you will need to ask yourself is: How much should I raise? The first answer that I have is 3 to 4 times the amount of the big blind but it depends on what you feel comfortable losing in case some one comes over the top and raises all in. The thing that you need to remember is that you cannot allow the strength of your hand to effect the size of your raise. In a tough poker game you need to treat it like buying real estate. There are three important rules of thumb and they are the most important factors in deciding how much to raise are: location, what players are at your table and of course location.
You always want to make any opponents decisions as difficult as possible for them. As for choosing the size of your raise, you want to make the big blind think, on their tough decision between calling or folding if the rest of the table folds around to him. However you can’t make your raise so big that you may actually be hurt if you are reraised or so much you feel pot committed and forced to call.
Raising from the early position is to advertise to the rest of the table that you have a very strong hand. That is a hand that can beat the seven or more other players who still have to act on your raise. Since you are showing such a strong hand by the strength of your raise, it doesn’t take much of a raise to convince all of the players including the big blind to fold. If you also have a big hand and it is a strong one, you actually hope for a call from the big blind. The real reason for a small raise is that you have so many players acting after you, any of whom might see a monster hand and re-raise you. That is good for you since if you feel that you are beat you can just muck the hand and move to the next case.