Raising Your Expectations In Poker

Posted September 24, 2009 by Andrew in Articles

Poker GirlWithout our being conscious of it, many of us tend to define our hands by what we think our opponents’ cards are. You can see this from the betting process, particularly the raises and reraises.

Here’s one example…

Let’s say you’re in one of the last positions. You have kings, and you reraised a very strong player seated to your right. The flop was Ac-Kh-4s. He responded with another bet, which you raised.

Aaah, here’s where your mind starts thinking really quickly.

He decides to reraise. Now, he’s done this before, and you think you know the way he plays. So you think, trying to guess his hand, that he wouldn’t have done this if he had flopped a set of aces. Instead, his response would’ve been to check the flop, call the bet you made, and checkraise on the turn. From his decisions, you do the Math, and make a calculated guess that he was probably holding an A-K. He may have been holding an Ah-Jh. The turn card was the 6h. He bet, and you raised. He called. Now, if he had done it differently, flopping a set of aces, he would have reraised, since a set of aces would have been the best possible hand on the turn.

So you pin him for a A-K. But you base this not only on what you think of him, but what you think he thinks of you. He also knows your style of play, and this would have influenced his decision too. You believe he would have called with less than two pair, and that your own decision to raise had clued him into thinking that you had at least that, or maybe even a set. When the 8h fell on the river he bet, you raised, and he reraised.

Then the theory falls apart. Your assessment was wrong, this was no A-K. Maybe an A-J and he was trying to steal the pot with his bet on the turn. After all, he had one of the best pairs with a strong kicker, and to top it all, a chance to aim for a flush if another heart fell on the river. And finally, you got it right.

Unfortunately, too late to save your money.

So, what are the lessons here?

First, you need to raise to stop the other players from getting a free, or relatively inexpensive card. Let’s say you don’t know what your opponents are holding, and you’re not sure if you have the best hand. But you can assume this: if they had really strong cards, they would’ve raised before the flop. The fact that they are not means they’re holding connectors or a small pair. Someone may have flopped a set, but they are probably biding time and are waiting and raising on the turn when the betting doubles.

So raise, in the same way you thin out the field. But by raising after the flop, you force them to define their hands, or even force them to fold.

About the Author


Andrew Keyes is a poker enthusiast, a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant. You can visit to get poker articles along with winning poker tips, tested poker strategies, the latest poker news, free poker tools, cool poker resources, and more! Visit today and you can download some of the best poker bots for automating your poker play!