Playing Against a Preflop Raiser

One of the toughest spots in poker is when you call a preflop raise, then have to play the raiser on the flop. Your opponent has already taken the lead in the hand with his/her preflop aggression, so it can be very hard to put your opponent on a hand and play him/her out of the pot. This article is going to explain the best way to beat a preflop raiser on the flop depending on your position, stack size, and hand.

One of the key concepts to playing against a preflop raiser is having position at the table. Your chip stack is still important, but you should be focusing more on your opponent's chip stack. Many small stacks will be forced to put all their chips in the middle on the flop after making a large raise preflop. Large stacks will be more likely to fold if they miss the flop. Regardless, however, it is always a good idea to take control of the hand if you are in this situation.

Playing the Raiser from Early Position

Playing Against a Raiser ImageIf you have to act before the raiser, you are in a really tough spot. Not only has your opponent taken the lead by raising preflop, but he/she also has position on the flop. Your action on the flop depends on the flop's texture.

If the flop has three cards of the same suit, three cards to a straight, or a pair on the board, you should lead out with a normal sized bet (between 1/2 the size of the pot and the full size of the pot). Your opponent most likely has a big pair or big cards, and if the board is scarey they will most likely throw their hand away. If the other player raises your bet and you didn't hit the flop, just throw your hand away. If the other player raises your bet and you did hit the flop, you will have to analyze the situation and decide what to do.

If the flop has unsuited, unpaired high cards, you are most likely out of luck (unless you hit the flop really hard). Your opponent indicated that he/she had big cards when he/she raised preflop, so you will most likely have to check/fold. If you did happen to hit the flop hard, we recommend betting out as your opponent will most likely raise you. This is a better play then check-raising, which will certainly scare your opponent off their hand.

Playing the Raiser from Late Position

Playing against a preflop raiser from late position is a little more manageable. Although your opponent is the aggressor, they will have to act first on the flop which gives you a slight advantage. The most important things to consider in this situation are the flop texture, your hand, and your opponent's action.

If the flop comes with one or two high cards and your opponent bets out, you need to be careful. For example, if you hold K-J and the flop is K-6-4 off suit, you may feel like you have a great hand. However, it is very likely that your opponent has a hand like A-K or K-Q, which has you crushed. Proceed with caution.

If the same exact thing happens but your opponent checks to you, you need to bet out and hope that your hand is good. You can't take the chance of an Ace peeling off on the turn, which would ruin your top pair.

If the flop comes out low and your opponent bets out, you can take more chances. Odds are that he/she missed the low flop and are now trying to steal the pot with a continuation bet. Go ahead and call/raise the bet. If the flop is low and they check to you, fire out and try to take the pot right then and there.

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