Entering the Pot

In pre-flop betting, where the blinds have already been posted, you can choose to fold, removing yourself from the action, or enter the pot, whether by calling or raising.

Your table position and starting hand will affect how you enter the pot. In general, if there is an unopened pot, meaning that the players before you have all called instead of raising, you’ll want to raise when the action comes to you. How much you raise will also depend on the size of the big blind and your own stack.

Consider the action of players behind you - if they limp into the pot, only matching the big blind, this may indicate that they aren’t confident about their hand. In this instance, you would want to raise big when you enter the pot, especially if you are sitting in the hijack or cut-off positions, to give yourself an early advantage. A good rule of thumb, if you have the chips to do it, is to raise three times the value of the big blind, plus a smaller amount for each limping player behind you. For example, if you are in middle position and the player under the gun has only called when the big blind was £5, you could raise £15 + £2, or £17.

However, if a player before you raises, creating an opened pot, you need to reconsider your strategy. Assess your starting hand again and consider whether or not you want to see the flop. If you’re not holding a monster or other advantageous hand, it’s entirely acceptable to fold to avoid cutting too deeply into your stack pre-flop. However, if you do want to continue, you can use one of the following approaches:

  • Raise small - Raise the bet again, but not so much that you overcommit yourself to the pot and endanger your stack. This is the best course of action if you are sure about your hole cards and think you can beat the player who has opened the pot.
  • Flat call - In this instance, you would call the player’s raise, adding the amount of their bet into the pot but not raising the bet any further.

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