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Poker Lesson 228

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Copyright 2010 Full Tilt Poker
June 19th, 2010
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Poker Lesson: I'd Rather Be a Raiser than a Caller

Author: Roy Winston

Unless you have a monster draw or are slow playing a big hand, calling is often the wrong play at the table. In fact, it often times takes a stronger hand to make a call than it does to make a raise.

"You raised with that?" is a question I hear a lot after showing down a hand. You can make a raise with any two cards (sometimes less than that), but it takes a real hand to make a call.

When I’m in late position in an unopened pot and someone in front of me puts in a raise, I’ll always say to myself, "Hey, I was going to do that!" The fact is opening a pot with a raise is a good idea because it puts you in control, while cold-calling a raise is not a great option for a variety of reasons.

First of all is the realization that I am probably behind. I have lost the ability to take the lead and be the aggressor, and perhaps represent a wide range of hands. Re-raising in position is always an option. However, if the initial raiser was pretty strong, I could wind up facing a re-raise, which could mean a decision for a lot of chips. I have now put myself in a bad position and made the first of perhaps many mistakes in the hand.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t hands I like to call with pre-flop. For instance, I’ll limp with hands like ace-rag suited (because you can make the nuts), small pocket pairs (looking to flop a set), sometimes big pocket pairs (to camouflage the strength of my hand) and suited connectors in position. But, making a bad call is almost always worse than making a bad fold.

When in doubt, listen to that little voice in your head saying "fold, fold, fold." Even if it turns out you were ahead in the hand when you folded, it’s still better than making a bad call and losing even more chips.

It takes a great player to make great lay-downs; you have to occasionally fold a winning hand. If you’re not sure what to do with a hand, ask yourself whether or not this is a good place to get your chips in the pot.

A combination of smart and aggressive play will help you to improve your results. And personally, I’d rather be a raiser than a caller...

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