Re-raising preflop to improve equity

Greetings :slight_smile:

I think it’s correct that hand equity decreases rapidly as the number of opponents increase.

That being the case, imagine I have a hand that has preflop equity of 20% - obviously not a premium hand but I’m happy to see the flop against a single opponent.

We know how it goes - limp, limp, min-raise, call, call and so on. Obviously, joining in this min-raise calling party is going to end in pain for my little marginal hand. Even more likely, of course, is that everyone limps even with premium hands!

My experience at the stakes I play (500/1k and below) is that we need a 6-8BB raise to get people to fold. Would it be wrong to raise first in/re-raise here, with my marginal hand, to an amount that will put pretty much everyone out of the hand?

More broadly speaking, is it ever wrong to raise/re-raise to reduce the number of players going to the flop?

I appreciate whatever advice and discussion arises from this :slight_smile:



How can you know your preflop equity before you know how many people will see the flop?

Opening 6-8 BBs OOP with marginal hands doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. When everyone folds, you win 1.5 BBs. When you get callers, you are almost always way behind. You will tend to win small pots and lose big pots.


Yes, sorry @SunPowerGuru

What I meant was if the equity is 20% against a single player.

I think what you’re suggesting is that I need someone to raise before me, it folds to me and then I can call? Do I understand correctly?


If you are 20%, you’re a 4-1 underdog, why enter the pot at all, especially if you have to call a raise?

Maybe if you close the action with 4+ people in the hand, it’s OK to take the flop now and then, but you won’t usually hit the flop and have to fold to any significant action. Even when the flop slams you, you will be hard pressed to realize your equity.

Give me 4-1 every time, heads up, and I’ll play with you all day. I’ll also end up driving your car and living in what used to be your house.

Vegas built all those billion dollar hotel/casinos from the profits of about a 5% overall house edge. Routinely entering pots as a 4-1 dog is the road to certain ruin.

Are you talking about hands like AJs, KQs, TT, 99?

If you are in early position, I would suggest just limping. People are going to limp behind with worse hands, and raising 6bb is not good price to steal the blinds. Besides, no one raises except with premium, so you can easily fold your hand against better hands. Try to hit a flush or straight or set and hope someone has a worse hand that is willing to stack off. Because you have the stronger draws, you are more likely to be ahead in cooler situation.

If you are in middle or late position, you should open for a smaller size if no one limps. There are less people left, so in a 2-way or 3-way pot, top pair good kicker is usually good.

If many people limped before, although limping is +EV, you can also raise with these hands against limpers. People are going to call with worse, and these hands perform better in pots with less people. With overcards and draws, you should bet aggressively to try to get people to fold. They will think that you have premium like AA. Because you have position, you get more opportunities to bluff and value bet. If people do see you bluffing, you will get paid more when you have premium.

However, I would say this type of strategy is difficult, as you need to know how to value bet thin, when to bluff, and when to bluff catch. Hands like 99 often will be a second pair, which is strong in heads up but reduced to a set mining hand in multiway pots. The second pairs are very tricky to play however.

Note: don’t limp behind with the offsuit combos like AJo since a good chunk of the equity comes from implied odds from flushes. The offsuit combos should be raise or fold. Even in a heads-up raised pot, they still have significantly less equity as they lack flush draws for bluffing.

After thinking about it more, I would suggest raising in EP. 6bb is not a good price to steal the blinds, but most of the value should come from other calling with worse hands anyways. Limping is fine if you’re not comfortable bluffing and playing aggressively without the nuts.

I think its really hard to talk GTO or have a static strategy on RP particularly these stakes 500/1k. Also how many players are we talking? I think generally you play 9 player tables and probably your analysis is based on that?

I tend to play pretty tight basic ABC poker on 9 player tables, much like SPG seems to suggest. At these stakes its rare & difficult to find the correct bet size to narrow the field. I rarely find myself isolating against only 1 or 2 opponents at these stakes. Players seem to like to call even 10BB raises & once 1 calls everyone jumps on board. Occasionally everyone will fold. Its rather unpredictable at first.

Getting a feel for the table & players gives you a much better idea of how to play & react. Also table image is really important. I usually start with 4.5BB & increase as needed - often to 6BB - partly dependant on how many limpers. Generally the amount will change throughout the game as players adjust & react to how I play anyway.

The rule about dont limp, always raise doesnt always apply IMO on RP when some players play so bad & give away their chips so freely. I do generally try to punish the limpers & min raisers but as much as I hate calling min raises its often stupidly profitable and cheap.

Also I’ve on occasion 3bet light & been forced to fold hands I love to see a flop with multiway like suited connectors. So I generally rarely 3bet light on 9 player unless every1 lets me get away with it.

On other occasions I’ve opened action in early position with hands I should probably just fold but the players are so bad they min raise 3bet & then im forced to call. This on occasion results in me winning a big pot, but it doesnt make it good play.

The following hand is a classic example of general RP bad play. I had 10c2c in the BB with 3 limpers in late position & the buttons min raise which I feel obligated to call bc they are suited. What else can I do with garbage cards in the BB? If the button raised 3x or the limpers raised like they should then I would have folded.

Hand #535516963


( lol duhh ) The more ppl that see the flop, the smaller by far … your inherant %.
100, 50, 33.3, 25, 20 … So any 2 cards with 5 ppl is 20% preflop.

(still any 2 cards preflop) … Being “Priced in” inversely goes up % wise.
Even if UTG min raises… so 2+1+.5 ( 3.5 bb pot ) from there it goes…
2:3.5 , 2:5.5 , (1.5) 2:7.5 , (1) 2:9.5 … person in BB gets almost 10:1 on
thier xtra 1 BB it costs them to stay in this case.

So if UTG minraises, and 2 ppl + the 2 blinds call, then if you win 20%
of the time and are the BB… you get a 2:1 effective profit to
make the call Every time… ( everything else staying the same ).

Saying that another way… your cost to call is 1 BB, do this 5 times
and thats ( 5BB cost )… yet you win, or get back 9.5 BB that 1 in 5
times you win… ( Very long term, here … hahahahaha )

All of that still didnt reflect your hand strength, but if Everyone acted
simmilarly ( which they dont ) you could graph/calculate a “cost2fold raise”.
I will guess tho this is not linear, its exponential to a degree…
Where the cost to get 1 person to fold of those 4 is Y, and it goes up
to 2y , 4y, 8y respectively as an example… for that person last to act
in thier BB. In this case, the next to act is the original raiser in UTG…
So if they call, that inflates the pot and gives everyone else a better
price2call, yet again.

So if you are going to make that raise… then your Best chance
becomes UTG+1, and goes down the later you are in the order…
and that price curve will also increase the later you are.

( to me ) TA , this is the most visible when playing Omaha HiLo.
I constantly walk the line, to keep the most ppl in the hand as possible,
so that (hopefully) my 50% of the pot will include profit. Once you get
down to 2 ppl, and you split 50/50, any additional chips going into the
pot are Not increasing profit, just exposed risk.

But the idea is not lost on Hold’em. Just that you are going after 100%
of the pot, not 50% ( or more ). That means at 2 ppl (HU) bets still matter.

Take Ah Kc 2d 3h … board is 5h 8h 2s Qc 4h … Omaha HL
You expect to win 100% of the pot, just like in Hold’em. With both the
nut low and nut high, you’re guarentee’d 50% + your share of the rest,
should other players also have nut low.

( ever wrong ) Yes … ( ( usually wrong ) No )

  1. any raise reopens action to the original raiser or ppl that have already called.
  2. You are declaring or repp’n a better hand, so cruicial info given on your hand.
  3. The better your hand, the more you want callers, but since your odds do decrease, then the more you will need your hand to hold up, so to speak.

In some ways TA, its not how many callers your raise gets…
Its does your raise induce another raise or not. Do you go into the flop
in control, or not incontrol. If you’re “in control” ie- the top preflop raiser,
then easier for you to rep the Ace that flops, even with a margainal hand.

( to me ) there are 4 basic permutations, of Control and Strength

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Playing bad or marginal hands on tables that are overly loose or aggressive is going to be grossly losing strat. On these types of tables you should play tighter more linear ranges and punish them for playing garbage. As far as sizing goes it will be determined by the table. A general rule of thumb is to raise to a size that will get you HU or 3 ways to the flop. Start with 3x +1 bb per limper and keep going up from there until you find that sweet spot.


Most tables are particularly loose even at 500/1k. One reason I don’t like playing 9 player tables is its a grind & harder to bluff. I just play like a NIT on these tables bc I know it works & is easy money but its not much fun & its not my natural style.

This sweet spot seems to be a moving target. I usually try to start about 5BB which is rarely enough at 500/1k & increase it until players learn respect after which I can usually reduce it again.

Adding 1BB for each limper is standard ABC poker but UTG or early raising 3BB with A10suited or AQ, AK & getting called by 3 players plus SB/BB isnt looking good. Really hard to navigate. The other problem is your almost never getting 3bet.

I know basic poker stat easily works higher stakes but lower it needs to be adjusted a lot.

I’ll raise 3.5x- 4.5x on 6/4 player but on a 9 player its just almost never enough.

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Many thanks to everyone! This is more interesting than I’d hoped :slight_smile:

@Punlsher, thank you kindly and remind me to avoid playing against you :slight_smile:
@aoeu, there’s just so much good advice there it’s going to take weeks to fully implement it!
@dayman, short and sweet - that’s what I like :slight_smile: … I appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

Yes, DogsOfWar, I’m normally found on the 9 seat tables but I’m hoping what we’re talking about translates to the 6max as well. You’ve made some good points here!

The whole thing originated for me with some reading I was doing and then looking at how many times I’m getting rivered!

Obviously it’s mostly the players who hold “rubbish” cards regardless of what it costs who are winning on the river card! That got me thinking that I don’t have to play complete rubbish but I can have a considered strategy of playing 3 or 4 marginal hands as a consistent part of my range.

So, sorry SunPowerGuru, I’m not giving you 4:1 odds on every hand lol

I’m considering things like one and 2 gapped connectors to be marginal. For example, against just one player with a fairly tight range, equilab claims 96s is 29%, 2 players is 21%.

Sassy_Sarah, thanks very much! I’m going to have to dust off my maths books :slight_smile:

Many thanks for the combined wisdom!


This thread has me very confused. You mentioned “marginal hands,” without really explaining what you meant by that. You also asked about raising when “first in,” which means you are considering raising from early position.

As the situation was stated, you don’t want to get heads up. Why would you want to raise 6-8BBs to get to a position where you are 20%? You certainly don’t want to inflate the pot preflop with a marginal hand, especially when heads up and way behind.

It’s been suggested that it’s OK to raise because you will get called by weaker hands. I can’t think of a situation where a weaker hand has you at 20% equity. “Marginal” is relative, but 20% is 20%.

20% heads up is a losing situation, but 20% in a 4 or 5 way pot is profitable. You should be losing less on the hands you lose and extracting more chips when you do hit a hand. I think raising to limit the field is the opposite of what you should usually be doing there.

High level strategies don’t work well in low stakes games, they just don’t. Don’t over-think it. There’s no need to balance anything when nobody is paying attention anyway. Straight ABC poker is your friend at those stakes. Play better starting hands than your opponents. Bet big when you make a hand, check more when you don’t. Bluff less. Pay attention to your table selection and bank management. Be patient.


@SunPowerGuru, my apologies for the confusion.

I did suggest raising both first in and as a re-raise and I was clear, in my earlier reply to you, that I’m talking about a hand with 20% against one player. As stated in the OP, I hope it’s obvious that I am not talking about any sort of premium hand.

Let’s carry on with my example of 96s which is now 31% vs 1 player with a very tight range and 22% against 2 players both with very tight ranges. I’m guessing I’ve changed the seating since I did the previous calculations.

To answer your question, this 22% against 2 players drops to 18% against 3 players - I’m guessing it’d be down to 10% against 4. As my question implied, of course I want less players so that my hand equity increases.

With that particular hand I can only win with a straight or a flush or, maybe, trip 9’s. If I’m in the cutoff or button position, I think Sassy mentioned, there’s certainly some room for bluffing.

My thinking is that against 2 players, at most, I’m reducing the chances of someone drawing a higher flush or straight. The more people in the hand, the more likely I am to be dominated, crushed and destroyed :slight_smile:

So, yes, I’m a real dog going in but it’s such an unexpected hand that I should be able to get at least one player to shove against me or call me when I shove.

Assuming that I always play with 200BB which is mostly the case, and I’m playing against villains with the same or greater, it costs me, for example, 8BB to see the flop but pays 200BB when I win. I break even at 1/25 wins = 4%. Obviously much better if I’ve got the nuts and 2 shove against me :slight_smile:

I’m definitely not wanting to overthink anything here and I’m very grateful for your advice and that of the other contributors regarding playing a more “standard” range.

I think I finally understand bankroll management but your reminder is very much appreciated - it’s something I have been very careless about in the past! Many times, unfortunately, I’m playing with friends who have already joined a table so table selection isn’t always an option for me.


I can illustrate my point by simplifying this. Let’s use your numbers and assume we are all allin for 1K preflop…

If we are 31% vs 1 player, we will win his 1k 31 times per hundred and lose our 1k 69 times, for a net loss of 69 - 31 = 38k loss.

If 22% vs 2 players, we will win their 2k 22 times, and lose our 1k 78 times, for a net loss of 78 - 44 = 34k loss

If 18% vs 3 players, we win their 3k 18 times, and lose our 1k 82 times, for a net loss of 82 - 54 = 28k loss.

As you can see, even though our equity percentages are going down, we do better with more people in the hand because the pots are bigger.

We wouldn’t usually be allin though. This works in our favor because we won’t be investing any more chips when we totally miss the flop, so we will usually get out cheap. When we do hit the nuts or near nuts, more people in the hand means there’s a better chance that someone made a hand that they can continue with, so we lose less on the hands we miss and make more on the hands where we hit.

Anyway, I’m not gonna be entering many pots with 96o. :slight_smile:

Still, your own numbers (which I haven’t checked) clearly show that it’s better to have more people in the hand than less.

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@SunPowerGuru, please believe me, I’m not trying to argue from any form of perceived or believed greater knowledge! Never mind 96s ← fixed that for you :slight_smile: , I’m not playing with you with AA in my hand lol

Your numbers certainly work if and only if we are all in preflop. That is not what I suggested though :slight_smile:

There’s 2 parts here - the cost to raise my equity in the hand preflop and implied odds postflop.

That is what I’m trying to clarify.

I really appreciate your thoughts so far, you are certainly helping me :slight_smile:


I didn’t think we were arguing. We are just talking about poker.

The principal remains no matter what. Allin pre is the worst case. With a sound betting strategy, the difference between heads up and multi-way should be greater. The point is that 18% 4 ways is better than 31% heads up, at least with certain hand types.

In other words, raising or opening might increase your equity by limiting the field, but it will also lower your profitability, at least with marginal hands.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion. Good luck at the tables.

I would keep hands like low suited gappers out of your range. 96s not only has a worse chance of hitting a straight than 98s, when it hits a straight, flush, 2 pair, or trips, it is often beat by higher one. Your opponents will be limping better hands like Q9s or T9s, which have you dominated.

For these two factors, I would fold 96s. Suited connectors with no gap have a higher chance of hitting straights and when it does hit a two pair, it’s more likely someone has a straight draw that you can charge. For instance, there’s more straights draws on 982 than 962. However, you still have to be careful with higher flushes and higher two pairs if you don’t hold top two, especially if your opponent reraise you after you make big bets.

Lower suited connectors and gappers should not be played as a limp. They only should be played as a raise in late position. With less people in the pot, hitting a strong hand usually means it’s good. Also, your pairs are less likely to be dominated because the raises usually good out the mid suit connectors. For instance, on a 984 board, with T9s, you have to worry about J9, Q9, K9, and A9. However, I wouldn’t expect people to limp call 86 or 96, which dominates 64s or 65s. If you hit a bottom pair, you can play it like a draw with 5 outs to trips or two-pair.

I would only raise low suited gappers in late position as having position gets your opportunities to bluff and value bet.

A great hand to limp/bluff raise are Axs hands. They make the nut straight and often the stronger two pair. If you have a flush, and you suspect your opponent has a flush, you can just shove and expect to get called by a worse flush.

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@SunPowerGuru, Your opinion is very welcome, thanks for putting the time in!

Definitely not arguing in the confrontational sense, more like “making statements that help support or explain my position that may not agree with your thoughts” … does that make sense?

I am beginning to see the value of your point of view though. I think you’re suggesting that, because a low equity hand is going to hit so rarely, when it does hit it’s nearly as likely to beat 4 people as one?

Presumably then, you’d prefer to limp or call with these sorts of hands to minimise the cost of entry. As you said, when we miss the flop we’re able to get out relatively cheaply.

Thanks again,


That’s more or less the idea. Although your risk increases with more players, the potential reward imcreases more.

I wouldn’t call 96s “marginal,” I would call it “highly speculative.” As such, I might take a flop now and then if I was in late position, there was already 3 or more limpers in the pot, and both blinds were passive types. If folded around to me on the button, I might raise if both blinds were folding way too much. Mostly though, I’m folding trash like this.

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@aoeu, I’d love to know how to pronounce that lol!

Many thanks again for your time.

Yes, it’s these weak, easily dominated hands that I’m asking about. I know I picked what might be a silly example but the equity was what I was looking at. Maybe something like 86s would have been less controversial :slight_smile:

aoeu, I think you’re saying that if it limps to me in late position, a good size raise to reduce the field is appropriate.

What if there’s an early raise and there’s more than one call? Would it be correct to 2-bet to try to narrow the field?

Although I think I understand SPGs point of view, I’m still uncomfortable going to the flop with a weak hand against 3 or 4 players.