Raising in Poker
Don’t be the “calling station” in poker. Raising makes poker more fun, and as Paul Phua explains in this video, it’s also more profitable.
Of all the mistakes amateur players make in poker, probably the greatest is to call too often, and raise too rarely. There is even a poker expression for this, and it is used as an insult! Such a person is known as a “calling station”.
In the video interviews with the top poker pros on Paul Phua Poker, you will find them talking again and again about why aggressive play can be profitable. Dan “Jungleman” Cates tells us us how he likes to 3-bet (re-raise) with 5-3 suited. Rui Cao and Wai Kin Yong talk about the fireworks that ensue when these two hyper-aggressive players go head to head. Timofey “Trueteller” Kuznetsoz reveals that he revels in the risk of poker.
Raising for fold equity
The main reason for raising is a concept known as “fold equity”. Paul Phua explains more about that in his article on how to play a flush draw, but it basically means that raising gives you two chances to win: you win if you have the best hand, but you also win if everyone else folds, regardless of what hand you have.
“Raising is often more valuable and profitable,” explains Paul Phua in the video on this page. “When you raise you are the aggressor, and you can get people after you to fold if they are scared off, particularly amateur players.”
The other reason is that if you think you have the best hand on any street, calling will give other players the chance to catch up and get lucky by the river. You want to make players with marginal hands fold before they can overtake you, or at least pay dearly for the chance! (The exception is when you want to “trap” the other players with a very strong hand, as Tom Dwan explains in this video.)
Loose-aggressive v. tight-aggressive
This doesn’t mean you should be reckless with your chips on poker night. If you raise every hand, people will soon start calling or even re-raising you, as they will realise you can’t have a good hand every time! A player who does this is known as “loose-aggressive”, and you will often find they accumulate a big stack of chips from other players who are scared to call their frequent big bets, then lose them all again when their opponents start to stand up for themselves.
Probably a better playing style for all but the most experienced players is “tight-aggressive”. This means that you may not play many hands, but when you do, you usually raise in order to dictate the passage of play. In poker, you want to be in the driving seat.
Know their stack sizes before you raise
As with many things, you shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to raising in poker. You need to decide whether it’s worth doing, and if so, by how much. Paul Phua says that, often, it’s the number of chips your opponent has on the poker table that dictates how much money you yourself put in. This is something that even experienced players sometimes forget to factor in! Watch the video from the Paul Phua Poker School to find out why.
Please read our video script here on Raising in poker.