Russell Blattberg- Loosefer/Snugglez88
Poker players generally dismiss the min-raise as a donkey play. I believe that min-raising can be very profitable if it is used in the correct frequencies. Obviously, you shouldn’t be min-raising half of your opponent’s continuation bets. Its use should be under 6% of all possible actions in a spot where you’d consider using it. Image is extremely important to consider in spots where you can min-raise. You want your opponents to either be extremely predictable, or thinking players who you think will play predictably against a min-raise. If you min-raise frequently, aggressive players are going to fight back. If you are caught min-raise bluffing then your future min-raises should likely be for value. If people see you min-raising strong, then you can profitably min-raise bluff in certain spots. People are generally caught off guard when a thinking player min-raises them.
You are playing 2-4 NL 6 max. The game is 6 handed. You have no reads except you know the regular on the button is solid, and runs at 24/17/3.5.
You are dealt UTG and raise to $14.
The regular on the button calls.
You bet $28
Button raises to $56
This example illustrates the power of the min-raise.
I think a good calling range versus this min-raise would be A8+ and most draws. If you are raising AT+/KQ+/22+ UTG and continuation bet on this flop a majority of the time, the min-raise forces you to fold most of your range. We all know various methods to combat the continuation bet, floating, raising, etc. In my opinion the min-raise is one of the best/ most effective ways to do it- As long as it is used in low frequencies as part of a varied strategy.
The advantages of the min-raise are that it’s cheap, tricky and effective. Continuation bets are most effective on unpaired rainbow flops, paired flops and three of a kind flops; the less connected, the better. Also, the bigger the high card on the flop, the more likely an opponent folds. Using the min-raise is most effective on boards where continuation bets are most effective (or most likely to be used). By min-raising, you put the pressure on your opponent, and can take control of the hand. Min-raising as a bluff is best against players who open up a fairly wide range pre-flop and make continuation bets on a wide range of boards, but know how to fold. Multi-tabling LAGs make great targets because they play a wide range pre-flop, but once you show strength, they often fold if they flopped weakly.
So min-raise bluffing is very effective. Lets look at the semi-bluff. By raising instead of calling you give you opponent a chance to fold. It is important to raise draws on the flop as a part of your strategy. By min-raising you get to bluff cheaply, and you add value to the pot if you hit your draw. Also, by showing strength on the flop you’re in a better position to take the pot away on the turn or river. You have to be careful when you use this play however; if your opponent comes over the top you probably have to fold. If you think it’s likely that your opponent has a strong hand or he/she tends to be very aggressive then calling the flop bet is likely your best option.
Min-raising can also be used to add a lot of value to your good but marginal hands. Lets go back to that K84 example.
In this hand you are the now the regular in the button sitting with .
UTG raises to $14 and you call. Flop: , UTG bets $28.
You have some options here. You could call. Calling is good in this situation. You aren’t too worried about a spade coming on the turn because you have a high spade in your hand. UTG has a wide range that you beat here. There isn’t too much in UTG’s range that you can get value out of if you make a standard raise here. A min-raise is great in this situation because you likely have the best hand. If you assume your opponent will call with A8+, and most draws, you get a lot of value here. If UTG calls, you’ll have the upper hand on the turn. UTG will check the turn most of the time. If the turn is a non-spade and you think UTG likely has a draw, then betting the turn/ or checking behind are both profitable. I advise checking behind against aggressive opponents. If the spade hits on the river and UTG bets you are likely beat. If the draw misses on the river UTG will likely bet thinly for value or bluff a missed draw.
The last type of min-raising is with a monster. Generally this should be done on the flop to build up a pot. You’re trying to play for stacks so a min-raise should only be used if you can accomplish that goal later in the pot. The point is that you have a huge hand and you want action. If you think you can get your opponent to bite and call with worse than they would against a normal raise, by all means, go for it. For the most part, you shouldn’t be min-raising with monsters unless the board is unconnected and there are virtually no draws that can improve over your hand. A min-raise is not expensive to call so you give your opponent great pot odds to call and he/she has huge implied odds because you are planning to stack off.
Finally, min-raises are great for big pots. Lets say you are playing 2-4 NL 6 max 6 handed.
You open Ad Kd from the button to $14
The small blind makes it $48 to go
The flop is .
The small blind bets $70
There is $170 in the pot. Before we decide on an action lets put the small blind on a range- 99+/AQ+. Our opponent will usually have a pair on this flop, and we almost never have the best hand. Many players would instantly fold AK here 100% of the time. By floating and raising in the spot with AK, it makes you very, very difficult to play against. It’s important that you don’t do it with too high a frequency though, or you are giving away money. That being said I don’t really like a call on this flop because if you do bluff later in the hand, you’ll need to commit a large portion of your stack. If raise to $200 here, you leave yourself with no room to fold. A push is alright, but you are generally called by AQ/AK spades/KK/AA. If you min-raise to $140 your opponent will likely call/push AQ/AK spades/KK/AA. If you think your opponent would push with AK or JJ over a min-raise then it decreases the value of the play. Most players would fold JJ/AK in this spot. Since a min-raise allows you to get the rest of the money in on the turn, it looks very strong and doesn’t commit you to the pot. It is the cheapest way to bluff and a very profitable way to do it. Now, lets say this flop is K high. A min-raise is equally effective in this spot because it gives the illusion of fold equity when really your opponent has none against you. If you are capable of min-raise bluffing in a spot like this, you can get paid off bigger when you do hit.
Min-raising is not a new secret play, but its an effective one that many good players don’t consider as an option in any situation It’s a play well worth adding to your arsenal. Make sure that you don’t let it become too big a part of your game plan however, because its value is derived by using it sparingly.