In tournament play, the best players in the world usually won’t reraise a bet before the flop. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain situations where it’s appropriate to do just that.
It’s okay, for example, to reraise when you’re short-stacked. This is the most obvious situation for a pre-flop reraise. In this case, you’ll likely be reraising for all of your chips when you do. If your opponent folds, you’ll probably increase your stack size significantly, and that’s not a bad result.
A reraise in this situation is effective because it limits the field. With any luck, you’ll get to play the hand heads-up; that will increase your odds of tournament survival. Remember, even with a hand as strong as pocket queens, you’d much prefer having just one opponent to beat.
You can also reraise when you’re out of position with a strong hand. In no limit Hold’em, position equals power. One sure way to neutralize an opponent’s positional advantage is by reraising before the flop.
For example, say a player from late position raises when you hold pocket jacks in the small blind. A reraise here is often better than a call. That’s because pocket jacks are tough to play after the flop and even more difficult to play if you have to act first. By making an appropriately large pre-flop reraise, the hand becomes easier to play since you’ll likely be committed to the pot regardless of the flop.
Now, if the flop comes A-K-10, you’d obviously have to consider laying down the jacks. If the flop came Q-6-2, however, you’d want to continue to bet after the flop even though there’s an overcard on the board.
It’s also a good idea to reraise against bad players who tend to overplay hands like J-J, A-Q, or even A-K. While you should occasionally slowplay big pairs like pocket aces or kings in deep-stack tournaments, it’s simply unnecessary and not recommended when playing against bad players. Go ahead and reraise your big pocket pairs against these players. A weak player who raises with A-K will probably respond to your reraise by shoving all of his chips in before the flop — with the worse hand.
You can also reraise pre-flop when you have position and want to define an opponent’s hand, particularly if there’s an aggressive player at the table.
Say you’re sitting on the button with a not-so-strong K-J and an aggressive player raises. Reraising pre-flop in this situation will help you take control of the hand and will reveal information about the strength of your opponent’s hand.
If he folds, he was trying to steal. If he reraises, he’s probably got you dominated. If he calls, assume he’s got a relatively strong hand, something like pocket eights or A-Q.
Finally, consider reraising before the flop if you have a solid table image. At some point, your opponents will see that you rarely reraise before the flop. That observation provides the perfect opportunity to bluff by reraising with a trash hand. Even a hand as weak as 7-2 offsuit can be a winner if you make a pre-flop reraise. But you’ve got to have a rock-solid poker image to make this play work.
Important: Don’t overuse this play. When you do, be prepared to abort mission if you get any resistance at all. And only try this play if it won’t put at risk a large percentage of your chips.
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