Raising After Many Loose Limpers

Nov 1st 1999

From: Abdul Jalib
Subject: Raising after many loose limpers
Date: 1999/09/01
Organization: Positive Expected Value, Unlimited
Newsgroups: rec.gambling.poker

I've said that you should raise preflop when you will win more than your fair share of pots. For example, if there are 5 limpers in the pot, you're on the button, and you expect the blinds to call with any two cards, then if you will win more than 1/8 of the time, you should generally raise.

To get a better idea for the threshold for raising versus *loose* limpers, here are the hands that win 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7, and 1/8 of the time against 7 opponents with *random* hands in a *no* *fold'em* game:

No Fold'em Hand Rankings for 7 Opponents with Random Hands

Wins AA AKs KQs QJs JTs T9s 98s 87s 76s 65s 54s AK KQ QJ JT T9 98 87
= == === == == == == == == ==
1/3+ AA ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
1/4+ JJ AQs ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
1/5+ 99 ATs KTs QTs JTs ... ... ... ... ... ... AQ KQ .. .. .. .. ..
1/6+ 66 A2s K5s Q8s J8s T7s 98s 87s ... ... ... AT KT QT JT .. .. ..
1/7+ 55 K2s Q4s J6s T6s 96s 86s 75s 64s 54s A3 K8 Q9 J9 T9 .. ..
1/8+ 22 Q2s J2s T2s 93s 83s 73s 63s 53s A2 K5 Q7 J8 T8 97 87

Each hand listed also includes all the hands between it and the column heading. For example, K5s means K5s through KQs. K5s is on the 1/6+ line, so that means it wins 1/6 of the time or better (but less than 1/5 of the time.)
Now, it's not true that you could profitably raise with the hands on the 1/8 win rate line, even though they include hands with win rates close to 1/7. Nor could you profitably raise with most of the hands on the 1/7 win rate line. Your raise requirements must be tighter for the following reasons:

* Your opponents are not playing any two random cards, only close, though this is mostly offset by the fact that they would have raised with their best hands rather than limping.
* There is a risk of a reraise behind from a superior hand left to act.
* The game is not actually no fold'em, and so hands that will often be folding before the river will win less often in reality than in no fold'em (e.g., 22.) So where should the line be drawn? Full blown Turbo simulations (*not* no fold'em) of raising on the button after 5 loose limpers (and loose players in the blinds) suggest minimums of:

66 A2s K5s Q5s JTs T9s 98s 87s 76s 65s ... A9 KT QJ .. .. .. ..

This is very similar to the 1/6+ line...

1/6+ 66 A2s K5s Q8s J8s T7s 98s 87s ... ... ... AT KT QT JT .. .. ..

...but with more emphasis on suited connectors. A gapped hand like T7s has less chance of flopping a draw than a hand like T9s, and so should be more inclined to see the flop cheaply upon which it will often fold. Suited connectors are very likely to flop something that causes them to stay in for the turn, and once on the turn they are likely to see the river, and once on the river they may have won. So, you actually can raise with very weak suited connectors like 76s and sometimes even 65s. Raising with them has the additional benefit of building the pot and tying others in for your draw.

After limpers, common wisdom is to not raise after limpers with AQ, never mind KJ or KT. This thinking is generally wrong. Big offsuit hands like AQ and KJ should not be afraid to raise preflop after loose limpers, as such hands are indeed very likely to be best at the moment and to win, even if they are likely to get tortured late in the hand and not win very much on average. AQ wins 1/5 of the time in 8-way no fold'em, probably considerably more than that in real games since AQ is extremely likely to take a card off with overcards on the flop, whereas your opponents with J7 are likely to fold on the flop. So you are getting the difference in equity of 1/8 and at least 1/5 from each player when you raise. It amounts to at least 60% of a small bet, probably closer to a full small bet, which is a big chunk of your hourly win rate.

However, if your raise would cause all 7 opponents to see the turn, whereas only 3 would see the turn otherwise, this is one case where you might not wish to raise with AQ. The reason is that you can't usually call on the flop with overcards versus 7+ opponents. (For one thing, you can't count on making a pair on the turn and then having the board pair low on the river and winning with aces up or queens up, because your opponents might already have paired every card on the board.) So, this is one strange case where by raising AQ might so harm its chances of winning that it would turn itself into an implied odds hand that would prefer to have not raised. Few games would fall into this category, however, and normally you should raise preflop after limpers if you feel you have the biggest cards.

IMO. Comments and criticisms are welcome.