First, let’s think about why we raise preflop. Is it so other players will call? Or, is it in order to make them fold?
The correct answer is really both. This might seem confusing, but it’s simpler than it seems. We’re raising because it gives us multiple ways to win the pot: realizing equity and making the best hand, or winning the pot uncontested, either now or at some future point.
Now let’s talk about the mechanics of raising preflop. How big should we raise? Well, this one is actually somewhat simple, given that there’s a lower limit on how much we can raise - a min-raise, or two big blinds. There’s also an upper limit, but that is defined by how deep the stacks are. The most we can raise at any time is all-in.
The easiest way to think about preflop raise sizings is to understand that our goal isn’t to make our opponents raise or call or fold - in fact, it’s to make it as difficult as possible for them to decide between those options. The more complicated and marginal we can make our opponents’ decisions, the more mistakes they’re going to make, which benefits us no matter what hand we have.
The deeper we are, the larger we can raise preflop. If we’re playing 200 or 500 big blinds deep, we may need to increase our raise sizing in order to make our opponents’ calling and raising decisions more difficult. In tournaments, we’ll find most stack sizes require a raise size of 2.5 big blinds or fewer, just due to the shallow nature of the stacks. In cash games, 3bb or greater will usually be required. The only exceptions are when we’re in the small blind or when there are limpers in the pot ahead of us, when we want to go slightly larger than normal.
Of course, as we’ve already alluded to, one of the most significant factors affecting preflop raising ranges is position. We’re not going to substantially change our raise sizing according to position, but we are going to have to significantly alter our hand requirements. In early-position, we may require all three fundamental properties in order to enter the pot. In later positions, only one or one-and-a-half properties may be necessary.
That’s all for this video. In the next lesson, we’ll focus on preflop calling; a slippery slope of its own.