Thin Preflop Raises

Dec 26th, 1999

I refer to the raises that are contrary to the popular belief (often because they do not *significantly* improve EV but sometimes uncomfortably increase variance) as "thin". However, with an adequate bankroll they are a good way to terrorize the fish and take some more money. They are +EV plays with other benefits as confusing the opposition and forcing them to make more mistakes against you. The following is from a 2+2 Forum debate on playing A4s after many limpers.


Thin Preflop Raising Against the Fish
Posted By: Izmet Fekali
Date: Sunday, 26 December 1999, at 10:47 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Beginnerish Type Question (SammyB)

Sammy seyz:
> With Axs, if you're going to play it at all, you want to see the flop
> as cheaply as possible. So, raising and voluntarily putting more
> money i the pot would be wasteful.

This is false.

Raising with Axs becomes profitable when there are enough loose limpers in play. For example, A4s will win more than 14.3% (which is about fair share of the 7-way pots) against 6+ opponents and will therefore profit from the six+ limping opponents putting more money in the pot preflop.

I set up three 100000-run Turbo sims to at least try to back up the claims. Here are the results, disregard at will:

1. In no fold'em simulation (no betting, no folding to the river), A4s won 20.8% of the pots against exactly 6 opponents. This is way above it's fair share, which means if you are about to go all in, it is profitable to raise the blinds and 4+ limpers with A4s. If there is betting on the flop and beyond, your chances are even better as some competitors will get knocked out while you are drawing to gutshots and whatnot for free.

2. I ran a $10-20 simulation with a bunch of loose players and a good player on the button with A4s. The player with A4s on the button folded to a raise in front, but raised himself when there were 4 or more limpers in (aside from the blinds). In this situation, A4s won 19.1% of the pots (which is way more than fair share) and earned $15.40 per hand.

3. The third sim was same as no. 2 (same flops, same cards in opponent's hands), except A4s tried to see the flop cheaply (no raise). As before, A4s on the button folded to a raise in front and only limped behind the fish. Here, A4s won 18.9% of the pots and earned $12.72 per hand.


According to Turbo, limping behind loose limpers with A4s is about $3 mistake in a $10-20 game. The situation is similar (to a lesser extent) with even Q5s (which is as low as I go, suited jacks with no kicker are unplayable), although I'd prefer seven or more loose opponents to raise with suited no-kickered queens. With a suited ace, king or queen, the best ROI (return on investment) against multiple limpers is obtainable by putting as much money as possible in preflop and then going all-in to avoid being pushed off the hand or risking more money when outkicked. This is useful information for all the cheaters out there playing hold'em online. There are many opportunities to profitably disconnect yourself at the right moment, forcing the profitable all-in play.

And of course, keep in mind that raises with suited aces, kings and queens no kicker increase your variance and establishes you as a maniac in the eyes of your opponents. You might not wish to do that. Or you just might, do whatever works for you. Also, good play on the flop is mandatory, which includes much folding when you strongly suspect you are outkicked with the ace on the flop. As Turbo profiles cannot be as smart as you can, I believe the above numbers can even be improved against the fish.

For all the infidels out there in habit of distrusting computer sims, I urge you to give some thin preflop raising a try when in California-type loose fishy games. I have a feeling you could be pleasantly surprised.

Izmet Fekali
Burek Experts Ltd.
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