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Considering the Preflop Min-Raise in Tournament Poker

  • Martin HarrisMartin Harris
Considering the Preflop Min-Raise in Tournament Poker 0001

Anyone who plays a lot of tournaments — either live or online — is likely aware of how players lately have tended to open-raise smaller and smaller before the flop. Especially if you've been playing for several years, you've no doubt noticed how what used to be a "standard" opening raise has changed markedly as part of a broad shift in tourney strategy.

A few weeks back I remarked on this trend on Learn.PokerNews in an article titled "2x or Not 2x: That Is the Question When Opening Preflop," noting how all one has to do is go back through PokerNews' live reporting from WSOPs dating back to 2007 to see a big difference in how players tend to handle the preflop opening raise in tournaments.

This week Nate Meyvis carried the discussion further in a helpful article titled "Small Opening Raises in Tourneys: When They Are and Aren't a Good Idea." Along with Andrew Brokos, Meyvis co-hosts the popular Thinking Poker Podcast that recently became part of the iBus Media Network family of shows here on PokerNews.

In his article this week, Meyvis explains the thinking that goes along with open-raising small before the flop, starting the discussion by breaking down reasons why we we are raising in the first place:

There are several reasons to raise before the flop, and understanding them well will point us to the best situations for min-raising. Here are two of the most important reasons for opening with a preflop raise:

  1. Raising instead of calling (or folding) gives us the chance to win the pot immediately, and — especially in tournament poker — this is usually a good thing. (See my earlier article “Tournament Poker: Just Win the Pot” for more on this point.)
  2. Raising allows us to put more money in the pot in favorable circumstances, such as when our range is strong, when we are in position, or when the situation is otherwise advantageous.

In no-limit poker, we are especially concerned with making the situation as favourable as possible when we get all our money in. Your bottom line depends heavily on how you do in the biggest pots you play.

Why, then, do players often make small raises in tournaments? Let’s go back and think about that first goal to win pots without resistance before the flop.

Go read how Meyvis explains the benefits of sometimes raising small before the flop in tournaments — as well as what he has to say about why it is sometimes better not to be min-raising, too — in "Small Opening Raises in Tourneys: When They Are and Aren't a Good Idea."

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