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Understanding when the best time to raise the poker stakes is essential to getting the best from your game time whether it’s playing online or with friends.

Raising at the right time can be a crucial component in winning the game. You may have a great hand, or you may be bluffing your way to the winnings.

Assessing the other players at the table will give you some indicators of the best way to play your game.

Let’s cover the fundamentals of what raising is, when you should do it, and why.

What is raising in poker?

You’ll encounter a couple of terms in poker:
  • Checking
  • Opening
  • Calling
  • Raising
  • Re-Raising
  • Folding
When Checking in poker, you don’t have to put anything in the pot unless you play with a big blind and a small blind. You pass the action on to the next player and keep your cards.

The Opening is the start of the round of betting in poker. Many new players will raise, but it is better to wait and call for a bet or an open.

Calling is what is used to call a bet. You match the amount that has been put in the pot by other players. If you make it to the last round of bets, which is known as the river, The first player will bet, the second will call. The best hand will win.

Raising is a vital action within the game. You call a raise when you want to increase the opening bet. Other players will have the opportunity to call, fold or re-raise.

Raising is usually something a player does when they have a strong hand or play an intelligent game and are bluffing. Playing smart raise poker can give you a competitive advantage, as most often, this will be interpreted as you hold a high-value hand.

Re-raising is a raise on top of a raise that has already happened. Player one will open, player two can then raise. Player 3 can choose to re-raise when it is their turn.

Folding is something many players do when they feel their hand isn’t strong enough to win. When you have folded, you no longer put cash in the pot and are out of the game.

If you need to read up on the basics, we have a great guide: Understanding the basics of poker - learn what it is and how to play.

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When should you raise in poker?

It can be a difficult decision to raise or call, certainly when you are a beginner. Raising can often have the bonus of scaring off players.

The position at the table will impact how and when you raise and your potential to win.

Often the early position players (the ones after the small and big blind) have the least information to play on.

While the late players, who are just before the blinds, have the most information to make decisions with.

A professional poker player, when possible, will opt for the late position seating. Knowing when to raise, call, or fold can be translated into real-life skills too.

Here are some guidelines that can help you raise at the right time.

Raise to win big

If you know that you have a strong hand, something like an Ace-King of spades with three spades and no pairs, then you will be looking to maximise your win.

Raise to remove weak players

Raising the pot can give other players pause for thought. They can often reconsider their cards, and even more so if you are going in confidently.

Even when you are holding a pair of Aces in the hole, with too many players at the table, that incredible hand might not have the weight you want it to anymore.

Raise to reduce the number of players at the table, and increase your chances of winning.

Raise to mine information

You have to play the players as much as you play the cards. In this case, you can use your raises to see which players might be holding a great hand.

To do this, rather than do big raises, opt for smaller ones. If other players aren’t confident, they will most likely call or fold. Both of these moves can tell you something about the player’s hand.

If they re-raise, then you can look to protect your remaining stack and consider folding.

Raise when bluffing

One of the risky raises, but sometimes it can pay off. You have to play the players here. If you get the feeling that they don’t have a great hand, or they might get spooked easily - then raise.

If you would have three of a kind or two pairs on the flop, then you would raise on that hand anyway.

The bluff is that one or more of your opponents will assume you have a winning hand after the flop, and you might bluff your way to a win.

Tip: Be aware of any tells you have when bluffing, seasoned players will be looking for these movements, and they will call your bluff and then some.

Raise for protection

If you have a strong hand, and you think you will win if the flop is yet to come, then you can protect your hand by raising.

When your opponent tells you they have a great hand, but you are confident in yours, you have little option but to raise to protect your hand.

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What to watch out for when raising the stakes in poker

As a beginner poker player, there are a few tips that will help you secure wins more often and reduce the cost of losses whether it’s the digital world or at venues.
  • If you are concentrating too hard on the players, looking for tells, you might miss something happening within the cards.
  • Play the cards too hard, and you might miss the tell that your opponent has an unbeatable hand.
  • Don’t bluff too much; it is worth waiting for a better hand instead of playing a poker game with a very weak hand on a bluff.
  • It might be tempting to play with everything you have rather than within your bankroll, but this can be disastrous. Your bankroll is the amount of money you have set aside to play poker with - never play more than you had set aside.
  • A good rule of thumb is to have at least 20 buy-ins available for the poker games you play. Poker has many ups and downs; having a good-sized bankroll will see you through the losses.
  • Be sure that you know the hand rankings correctly. If you are playing online poker via pc or mobile, you can use the free tables to practice your ranking knowledge.
  • Avoid high stakes until you can handle high stakes. Put in the time at tables with a $1/$2 blind and low-cost buy-ins. You will learn enough to try out your first high-stakes game with confidence.
  • Invest in your poker knowledge via poker websites, poker books by professions and watch games too. Knowledge is the best way to increase your results.
Finally, although you are in it to win it, poker should be fun. You should enjoy the game each time you play, and that is what keeps you coming back to the table.