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Before the Flop

Entering a Cash Game Pot

All you need to know about coming in for a raise in a cash game, be it against limpers, raisers or if you are opening the action.

If you take into account all previous lessons on pre-flop play - including the importance of hand evaluation, table position and effective stacks - you will have an idea of the kind of considerations you need to make before entering a pot.

But if you decide to press ahead, you will also need to be sure you have logged what your opponents have opted to do, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

You need to track the action in every hand; if an opponent has already entered the pot, you know that he has a hand he wants to play. Although he might be feeding you mis-information, the general rule is that If he raised, he is telling you that he likes his hand and that he is keen to build a big pot. If he has called, he is looking to see a cheap flop in an attempt to connect.

You need to process this new information and adjust your bet sizing accordingly.


There is no one correct amount you should always raise before the flop in a cash game, but there are a few basic rules you can use to determine the right bet size - taking into account action in front of you.
  1. If you are the first player to enter the pot, and have decided to raise, you should usually raise three to four times the big blind. If you feel that your bets are getting called too often, you might want to raise even more. This allows you to build a bigger pot with your very strong hands.
  2. If somebody already called before you, and you want to raise, you just add the call to your regular raise. So if you usually raise three times the big blind and a player called before you, raise to four big blinds instead. If two players called already you should raise to five big blinds and so on.
  3. If you want to re-raise an initial raise (also known as a "three bet") you should re-raise about three times the initial raise.
  4. You should raise the same amount regardless of the strength of your hand. This way you ensure that your opponents can't determine the strength of your hand based on your bet sizing.

Acting first

Here are a few examples of hands in a Hold'em cash game, where you are the first player to enter a pot.

Click here to view examples as text
    1. The blinds are $1/$2, everybody folded to you and you hold . You raise to $6 which is three times the big blind. A raise to $7 or $8 would be fine too.
    2. The blinds are $1/$2, everybody folded to you and you hold  in middle position. You raise to $6 which is three times the big blind.
    3. On the button you can play weaker hands. And again, if everybody folded you want to raise to about three times the BB.

If you are the first player to enter a pot and you have decided to play, in general you should raise rather than limp. This way you put pressure on your opponents and build yourself a pot for your strong hands.
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Pre-Flop Essentials

A checklist of what you need to remember before entering a pot, plus a useful chart to reveal how to proceed in ...

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