What is your pre-flop bet strategy?

Pre-flop betting is something I see new players struggle with all the time and too often they choose the wrong pre-flop bet and either get creamed in an all in or drive off the money or don’t get the big pots they could get with their pre-flop bets.

This is my strategy and feel free to post your own strategy in the comments or ask questions.

The All In Bet

This is the riskiest of pre-flop bets but can get you a huge pot if you play it right against the right opponents,

First you need to understand that there is no guaranteed winning hand on a pre-flop bet. Pocket Aces get beat all the time and I would rather have a couple of high cards suited for a flush and straight hit than a pair for an all in bet but pairs are the common choice for an all in.

The timing for an all in bet is very important. Are you calling an all in or making the all in bet first?

If you are calling an all in then you should know you are probably up against a big pair or high cards suited and a high kicker if you match can make the difference in a win or loss. So avoid high cards with low kickers for an all in and if you have watched this player and know they like to all in on certain cards that can give you some clue as to whether you can take that risk calling an all in.

The more players in an all in the more risk.

If more than 2 players are in an all in your risk is greater and the best all in is head to head when you are the one making the all in call but if you know a player is likely to go all in a check bet or low raise on pre-flop may get them to make the all in call so you can decide if you want to play the hand.

How much risk you take on an all in depends on your stack. If you take an all in against someone with a much larger stack and lose you may be felted off the table or out of the tourney but if the target of your all in is short stacked your risk is lower.

Once you have considered all of that and the risk is acceptable and you have read your opponent then an all in may be a good option. If not sure a raise bet or check is better and if your hand is good pre-flop it will still be good post flop.

The Check Bet

This is the most common strategy and is used to not draw attention on your hand when you want to see the flop without much risk. It is a good strategy while you get a read on your opponents but if you check all bets regardless you may miss opportunities to get a bigger pot or scare off weak hands before the flop. Remember the more people in a hand post flop the higher the risk.

So once you have a read on the table you want to mix up check bets with raises on good hands so you can get bigger pots and chase off weaker hands to reduce risk. This also tells the other people on the table you will raise them and when you do you have a good hand so back off.

The Raise Bet

How much you raise over the Big Blind depends on your read of the opponents and if you want to drag more money into the pot or scare off weak hands or you have a specific opponent targeted.

If you want to get more money in the pot because you have a good hand then a smaller raise bet or 1/2 pot bet will get more players to stay for the flop and then if your hand is still solid on the flop you can go in for the kill.

If you want to scare off weak hands a medium bet or pot bet will get you down to just a few or one opponent on the hand and less players on the flop means less risk and if you have read the table you know which players to take seriously if they come back with a raise or call your bet.

Be aware a raise bet pre-flop may get you raised and re-raised in to an all in situation and you are increasing your risk in that situation.

The Ace Bet

This is a common bet of double the big blind and is called an Ace bet because it is used by players to indicate they have at least an ace but it may be used on any hand the player thinks is good and I use it on small pairs or a possible high card connectors or flush if I want to make people think I am holding an ace. This is a common misdirection used by advanced players and one you can use.

Never assume that because an opponent throws out an ace bet that they have an ace but it indicates they think they can beat aces.

The problem with an ace bet is it may drive money off the table if an ace comes up on the flop or you may not be holding an ace and another player is and can use that to their advantage if you come back on the flop with a check.

So you need to decide if that ace bet will get more money into the pot or drive it away and that all depends on your read of the table and if you want a quick kill on the flop or drive up the pot on a straight or flush hit.

The above is just my opinion and I hope it helps new players and here is a more detailed guide for pre-flop betting strategy that I recommend:

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Bet sizing differs between cash games and tournaments (depending on the stack depth of the tournament).

In a cash game, you should never make your initial raise an all-in shove, but if you are in the duck pond holding KK/AA then it’s a good play.

In a cash game with more than ~3 players, you should not be opening the minimum (the “ace bet”) because it gives everyone a good price to see a flop. The “check bet”, which is called a limp, is the most common strategy on Replay, but not in real-money poker because it is extremely passive and will put you in many bad positions while not giving you a chance to win the pot before the flop. Limping with good hands (AA/KK/AK etc.) is a criminally bad strategy that many players here seem to use.

In general, on Replay you want to open (bet) your good hands to 3.5x big blinds plus 1 bb for every limper in front of you. Against good players this size may be too big, but players on Replay love to call bets out of position with bad hands, so opening to a big size punishes them for this mistake and builds a big pot when you have a good hand. By “good hand”, I don’t mean just AA/KK, I mean a balanced range of 7-30% of hands depending on position and more from the button.

In tournaments on Replay, at the 3rd or 4th blind level you should open to 2x (min raise) because players will fold too many hands and those who call will fold the flop every time when they miss. So it is basically printing chips while taking minimal risk when your opponents are passive. I see players all the time who open to 3x or 4x when they only have 40 bbs left or less, which is a really big mistake. It shows that they are either raising only KK/AA or if you outflop them you can win their entire stack (because the pot will be ~10 bbs and they will only have 37bb left or less behind). There is no reason to take that risk. You can open 2x with a very wide range and get folds because the idea that most Replay players have of taking a tournament seriously is folding all the time.

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The all in bet pre-flop certainly has its place later in tournaments when you are down to ~10BB or less. At this point you often need to just get it in when you have a good hand, or fold and wait for something better.

However, if you are in a ring game with ~100BB stacks then open-shoving your AA and KK is throwing away a lot of the value of those cards. It’s certainly still a winning play because occasionally you will get a caller (especially at the small tables like Joe says!) However, we are not just looking for a play that wins, but which play wins the most in the long term. Raising a more normal amount you are going to get many more calls which means the opportunity to win more later. For example, someone may call your standard-sized AA raise with AJ and then give you their whole stack when the flop comes Jack high. If you go all in preflop with the AA then the player with AJ is going to make an easy fold.

I agree with Joe on the “check bet” aka limp. It’s just too passive. If you have a hand that is worth playing and nobody else raised yet pre-flop, then either raise it up yourself or just fold. In general your strategy should be to get more money in the pot when you likely have the best hand.

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I agree there and once you have a read on the table stop limping and raise the blind.

I like to mix it up to keep them guessing. 2X or 3X and then maybe check on a big hand.

Never let your betting become predictable.

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This seems backwards to me. Your default play should be raising, not limping. If you have a good preflop hand, you want to increase the number of chips in the pot. You will win more by playing big pots with strong hands than you will by playing small pots with strong hands.

If you have a specific read on another player (e.g. the player to your left is a maniac who is raising 80% of their hands) then at that point then sure, you can try a trickier play like limp-reraising. But it is generally rare for the proper adjustment to be limping instead of raising preflop.

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I was agreeing that limping in a bet after you have a read on the table is not good strategy.

I will check bet/limp a few hands on a new ring table to see who the players and spectators are and what the table will handle and then get more aggressive betting but to prevent having your bets become predictable mix it up.

If they peg you for always betting 3X on a big hand they will start folding pre-flop and there goes your pot so mix it up by limping in a big hand occasionally to keep them guessing.

Open sizes in an online cash game are generally default for that table at that time. They can vary depending on the width of the opening range, the number of players at the table, or the skill of those players, but in general “peg you for always betting 3x on a big hand” doesn’t really apply because I am opening the same size with my entire range.

So for example, I always raise 3.5x plus 1bb per limper when at a table with 5+ opponents (unless all 5 of those opponents are the top 5 players here, in which case I’m opening 2.25x or just running away from the table). But my range includes “big hands” like TT+, but also 45s, 56s, 22, A5s, KJo. So, you can still build the pot with good hands without being so obvious about what hand you are holding. I definitely agree that if every time you raise it means you have JJ+, then raising is too obvious, but there is also a lot more going wrong with the strategy than that. I see what you mean about feeling out your opponents, but starting to limp isn’t the answer. You would be better served just watching the table for an orbit or two without sitting down rather than starting out passively.

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OK, great. I am saying that it is also not good strategy before you have a read on the table.

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OK, I understand your strategy but my OP was a strategy for new players that don’t yet have their bet patterns memorized like you do and honestly most players don’t get that deep in the weeds.

My suggestion was to help new players from being predictable and any set bet pattern you use will get you pegged by advanced players if you stay on the table very long.

Whether you hover and watch or jump in you still want to get a read on the table before you get carried away and end up in a reraise situation to an all in and felted. I see that often with new players.

You and Taco and I have been around awhile and can probably read a table pretty fast or know many of the players on the table having played them before but a new player won’t have that experience.

Any strategy for less experienced players should start along these lines…

Table selection is very important. Before sitting at any table, open that table and watch a few orbits to see if the players are playing in a way that you can beat. There are lots of tables, find one you like.

If one table has Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Gus Hanson, Daniel Negreanu, Patrik Antonius, and Daniel Cates, and your other choice is a table full of tourists drinking and chatting it up, only a masochist would sit at the first table.

Table selection comes first, don’t underestimate its importance.

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After re-writing a few times (no edits)… There is no 1 single pre-flop or post-flop bet strategy. Its well, hahaha, everthing specific. Having said that, limp’n or min raise’n usually gets you no Usefull information, a 3x-6x raise usually gets the job done correctly. Don’t even get me started with Shove’n, thats a whole 'nother discussion.

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hahaha, then probably i’m a masochist as i would defenitely enjoy such a table :joy:

but serious, i completely agree as the second would grant you a lot of money and the first would grant the others a lot of money

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Another good article on pr-flop bet strategy:

12 Preflop Mistakes You Must Avoid to Move Up in Stakes

https://upswingpoker.com/preflop-poker-mistakes-avoid-at-all-cost/

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When I have good cards I bet a lot preflop…like Daniel Negreanu…

Just play the game the way you feel it, all these strategies go out the window once the cards are dealt. Too many people over think this game…I find it really humorous!

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Same here and the suited middle cards are the best!

I only raise crap hands and limp all my premium hands.

I have made many bad bets and raises over the years.
But the Replay Forums have taught me an important lesson…Label them as bluffs, semi-bluffs and informational bets to separate yourself from the donks.

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I rarely bet big pre flop, unless I’ve got into a rhythm against certain types of players who are either likely to instantly fold or I know will bet big, or if I’ve been unable to bet for a few hands/lost a recent large pot and need to catch up.
I always find the all-ins interesting, those who keep repeating it and get bombed a few hands later, those who are cleverer to try for straight/more pair options, and those who are really able to change their fortunes later on with some great strategical all ins

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that is pretty common