Some poker players are afraid to raise unless they have the nuts.
Instead, they prefer to call and "control the pot" with hands that can be beaten.
But a raise can actually save you more money than calling and controlling the pot when you have a big hand, but a hand that is vulnerable.
I've got - in middle position, and I decide to limp. I'm playing .25/.50 NLHoldem on PokerStars
with about $70, as it's been a good session so far.
An aggressive player raises a pretty standard 3xs in the big blind. I decide to call.
We've got three players to the flop, and it comes - - .
Well, I've got top two pair, a great hand. But I've also got a hand that obviously can be beaten. The Big Blind bets half the pot, $2.75, and it's to me.
Now I could call to control the pot size. But I'm going to raise.
I'm raising for an obvious reason: There are so many draws out there, and I want to protect my good hand.
However, I'm raising for another, more important reason.
I am not raising here to get more money in the pot. I'm raising here to see if I'm beat.
When you think you might be beat, it's much better to find out by raising on the flop, when the pot's still small and the raise won't cost you a lot.
If you wait until the turn to raise, you might commit yourself to the hand, as a raise will be much more expensive. But by raising to $7, I'm not committing myself at all.
That raise is not quite 3xs his bet, but it is more than a min-raise, and it clearly shows I mean business.
Not only does the third player call my raise (two bets cold), the Big Blind raises again, this time half his stack, which essentially means he's willing to commit to the hand.
This is an easy fold, and the reason it's an easy fold is because of the strength I've showed with my raise. I raised and another player called that raise, and yet that didn't scare him. If that isn't a show of the nuts, I don't know what is.
It's conceivable, too, that he could have J-10. I wouldn't raise with that hand most of the time, especially not in a blind where I'll be out of position the entire hand, but we are shorthanded and he is aggressive.
Honestly, because my show of strength just made him show more strength, I'd fold even if there wasn't another player in the hand.
Sure enough, I fold, the other player calls, and the Big Blind has us both beat when he flashes J-10 for the nuts. The third player, incidentally, had - , but his flush draw didn't get there.
The reason I could get away from that great hand so easily, even against an aggressive player, is because of my small raise on the flop. My strength didn't scare him, and when he showed even more strength in return, that was all I needed to know that I was beat.
If I just call on the flop, I have no idea where I'm at going into the turn and probably should call a good bet, which would cost me just as much money as a small raise on the flop.
The raise saves me money, however, and I end the night a winner.