No Limit Hold’em games are Texas Hold’em games where there is no betting limit. It respects all the principles of any other Hold’em game, only here there is no maximum betting limit for players.

And one of the keys to understand the dynamics of NLH is not the size, but the time. Because knowing how to choose the right moment is vital in No Limit Hold’em games. We explain it to you.

What is better? Preflop raise, call or re-raise?

The preflop game is basic. This will not be new to you, because in any Hold’em game the play before the flop is decisive, but knowing what to do in a NLH game is especially relevant. Although the option to call or re-raise is valid in certain cases, the star preflop play in NLH is the raise.

Why is that? Because it is a raise that allows us to overshadow our game. By raising before the flop, we imply that we have a good hand. As a starting point it is fine, but the real advantage of the preflop raise in No Limit Hold’em lies in the strength that this possibility offers you on later streets.

Don’t forget that there is no maximum betting limit in No Limit Hold’em, but it is in your interest, even with a strong hand, to keep the bet under control.

But let’s go back to the beginning. With a preflop raise, the scenario will be divided in two for your opponents: either you have such a good hand that you go strong from the beginning (if it is really good, it would be foolish not to go with a raise and stay in the call, which is like a I want to but I dare not and I look like a little fish to show my foot but hide, and then you get caught and expose your weaknesses before the flop), or your hand is mediocre and you are making a manual bluff. This possibility is feasible, but then you have to have a lot of guts to play the hand with bad cards and go bluffing with a raise.

When playing with such polarized odds, in preflop play nobody usually risks taking you for a fool and getting fleeced at the end of the hand for being arrogant. Therefore, the intimidating facade that preflop raise gives us for the remainder of the hand prevails. But for this to work several things must happen:

  • You should not abuse the preflop raise.
  • You should play only a few hands, because if you play too many hands, statistically, you will be caught in one of them.

What are the other advantages of raising preflop in an NLH game?

  • We take the initiative.
  • We shape the game.
  • We keep our game un-radiographed.
  • We can isolate players to read them more easily.
  • It opens the door to end up winning without hardly playing, which is great for our winrate.

Raising preflop, the star tactic in NLH

Many times, we will have to deal with seeing a bet, but not raising it. This is what we mean by limping, and it is a good option if we believe that whoever speaks after us is going to raise preflop, or if the blinds are mediocre postflop players.

Limping can be very useful in multiplayer pots, as long as we are in the middle of a 100% speculative play. By folding we can cover ourselves, and that cover will be precisely what allows us to stay in the game. In these situations, staying out of the pot is exactly what we have to avoid.

With a 3 bet we can also take advantage of part of the benefits of the preflop raise, although we will not take the lead, which can make us look opportunistic. It makes no sense to 3bet if we do not have a premium hand, so it is an option reserved only for very rare occasions. With a raise we keep the game opaque, but a 3bet puts us in the spotlight, and if we are going with nothing, on top of that we will be giving a cover to the preflop raise.

Also, keep in mind that if the table perceives the 3bet as an overbet, there will be trouble. What is an overbet? An overbet is a bet that is too big compared to the pot at the time the bet is made. And it’s a bad thing, because it exposes us too much and prevents us from getting the full value out of our cards.

All this leaves the preflop raise in a great position as a play in a No Limit Hold’em game. Its advantages make that, well played, the preflop raise gives us the perfect cover both with a good hand and with crappy or average hands, so it is a valid option in most cases.