When to re-raise before the flop in cash games
In a cash game, when someone raises the pot in front of you and you have a hand that you want to play, then you are faced with the decision whether to just call or re-raise the first raise. You will more often hear the term 3-bet. That means the same, namely a raise after a previous raise. Accordingly, the next raise is called a 4-bet and so on.
General considerations for the re-raise on the basis of your own hand
Of course, the first question you have to ask yourself is this: What do I want to achieve with my next action?
Do I want to:
a) win the pot right there without a flop?
b) get all players except one to fold?
c) play in a big pot at the best possible price?
d) increase the pot before the flop?
Basically, there are hands that are strong against a single opponent, and others who play well against multiple opponents.
- If you have AA, KK, QQ, then you want to leave only one opponent in the hand.
- Medium pairs should ideally be played in a way so that either you win the pot without seeing a flop, or get to see a flop cheaply, in the hope of flopping a set (three of a kind).
- Hands like AK and AQ are strong both against one, as well as multiple opponents, especially if they are suited.
- AJ, AT are very tricky hands against multiple opponents and can become very expensive if you do not connect solidly with the flop.
- Very good against multiple opponents are the so-called suited connectors like QJ or 34 of the same color. These hands do not win often, but when they do, they tend to win big pots. You have to pay very close attention to the pot odds (how much do I have to pay to see the flop, and how big is the pot?)
What criteria influence my decision before a re-raise (3-bet)?
Apart from the own hand of course other factors have to be considered. Only when by taking these considerations into account, will I have a good chance, to achieve my goal (as described above). If you do not succeed, then you will only have filled the pot - which often makes for poor follow-up actions. You will have, in fact, by increasing the pot procured the necessary odds to justify playing thin draws.
The position of the original raiser and my information about this player
When a tight player raises from early position, you can expect him to hold a very strong hand. So you have to compare your own hand against the range of his possible hands. When a loose / aggressive opponent raises in late position, eg from from Button, then it may be in an attempt to steal the pot.
Your own position and what the other players think about you
If you have a tight "table image", then a weak opponent will be more willing to fold to your 3bet - you could do this with no hand at all. If your are known to be loose and aggressive, then you should have a very strong hand to 3bet.
Players who still have to act after your own raise
Very strong, aggressive players are quite capable of firing a 4-bet in reaction to your own 3-bet. This danger is especially high in case you tried to isolate a weak player by firing a 3bet. Good players recognize such actions, and in turn may try to steal the pot. Another reason for your re-raise could be that you want to conquer the button, ie make the button and the players between you and the button fold, so that you can act last after the flop. This can also work very well with a hand like JT suited, especially since often times, players will then check to you after the flop. You will get to see the flop and the turn for the price of one re-raise.
What you will you do if another player 4bets?
This you should always consider before making your own decision. Personally, I would almost always at least call a 4bet (unless the price is too high, and / or I am sure that the opponent has AA or KK). Ultimately, this decision will mostly depend on your own holdings, and how you assess the 4betting player.
Basically, however, in all these cases, it can be said that the 3bettor almost always has a certain advantage (Raiser's Edge). This is due to the fact that often enough a 3bet will win the hand before the flop, and more often a well sized continuation bet after the flop will get your opponent to fold!