If there’s one thing that poker newbies don’t do enough, it’s raise. It’s like they’re scared to draw attention to themselves. You really shouldn’t be, at the end of the day. As long as you’re willing to take risks, you’ll have a glorious poker career in good time. But you can’t get there if you’re always limping.

Yet you can’t just raise whenever you feel like raising. You need to think about what’s going to be the most beneficial for you, and then do that. Yes, that means that these rules aren’t set in stone. Deal with it.

Moving on to the heart of the article: why raise preflop? Well, the short answer is simple: it’s profitable to do so. If you have a monster hand, why on earth would you let everyone see the pot for free? By making a raise play, you’re calling attention to the fact that you’re a contender, not just another limper hoping to get “flop lucky”. You add value to your hand by taking advantage of the fact that some people will put up the ante yet they won’t have a strong hand. If you can catch blinds, why not?

Raise Preflop

The first instance where you want to make sure that you raise would have to be when you have a suited ace. It’s going to let you get the highest flush possible of that suit, so why not bet preflop and then raise again when there’s a flush draw?   The neat part about a suited ace situation is that you can get to where you may catch a straight even if you don’t catch the flush. This scenario happens often with A5s.

If you have suited broadways, you should play this. JTs and QJs are wonderful preflop, because there’s a good chance for a straight or a flush again.

But what about those hands like KQo or AJo? If you’re the first to act, you should still raise hard. I’ve seen too many K-Q-10 or K-Q-5 flops to deny the power of these hands. Play them well and you’ll scare off limpers. This is doubly true if they’ve watched you hit the showdown and actually take the pot.

Suited connectors are a good value for what you want to accomplish, because you encourage increased action from other players at the table. The trouble with playing super tight is that you turn into a rock that can’t be moved. When players have that image of you, they aren’t trying to give you money when you start raising blinds. Giving them a little “loss leader” works the same way it does at the supermarket. They come for the cheap soda, but they stay for the other goodies that happen to be around the soda.

Make sure that you stay as fluid as possible when you’re playing poker. These are strong suggestions, but only you can make the final decision.