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Is it profitable play to raise with the intention for other players to call when you are on a draw?

Ie. If i have the nut flush draw on the button, and action is all checked to me on the flop, should i raise ~40% of the pot (assuming more than 1 callers) just to build the pot?

This means that its not a semi-bluff, nor a blocking bet, but "for value", in a weird sense. The logic being that if another player raised that same amount, calling would still give me good odds to draw the turn.

So far i do it in EP as a blocking bet of sorts, but I am wondering if its profitable OTB, or just increases the variance of my earnings.

  • If it is checked to you what makes you think you will get multiple callers? – paparazzo Feb 7 '17 at 13:23
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    If it is checked to you what makes you think you can raise? – user1934 Feb 7 '17 at 15:32
  • @michael is this meant to be tongue-in-cheek? haha. Again theres no surety, the question is IF they called, would it be profitable. – sakon Feb 8 '17 at 3:05
  • Im having trouble wrapping my head around the pot odds difference between calling a raise and raising and getting called, when the money put in the pot is the same. – sakon Feb 8 '17 at 3:51
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    @sakon If it helps, you can think of it like this: when facing a bet, you no longer have an equity share of the pot already in the middle--you must make a call to stay in the hand, so getting that equity share "back" is factored into your odds. When you're the one making the bet, you already have an equity share of the pot already in the middle because you could have just checked and had a chance of winning--that's why the pot already in the middle isn't a factor for the odds in that scenario. – Dr.DrfbagIII Feb 9 '17 at 15:00
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No, the value of raising (or betting a draw) is in winning the pot with the bet, IE a semi bluff or keeping the price of the draw down when you have aggressive players behind you whom will almost always bet late when it is checked to them. You would need a lot of players in to get any value from a bet, and you can never be sure any bet is going to get called by that many players, and the likelihood of enough players calling a raise is virtually nil.

The only other value to a bet is when you have a live one who just cant lay down the hand to a big bet when the pot is large, although I think you would need a pretty stupid player for this, and any player that stubborn may not need a bigger pot to get stubborn on.

*I originally typed five or more players, however when I started thinking about it that number seemed to low. The problems seem to compound the more players you have in. One if your not drawing to the ace of the suit your likely going to find someone that is with an Ace high draw to your suit if there are enough players in to give your value bet any value. Second problem is, with so many players in often they will be calling on their own flush draws, or back door flush draws indicating you may not have as many outs as you think. Third, the more players in the more you are going to loose to a full house when the board pairs with your flush card.

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From a strictly pot odds perspective, this would be similar to calling with a draw in that you want there to be enough money going into the pot such that the money you're putting in is at a good "price". For example, if you have a draw that is 33% to hit, you'd want a minimum of 2 callers to be OK with the bet (you're putting in 1/3 of the chips).

In practice though, you probably never know how many callers to expect which makes it different from calling with a draw where you have a better idea of how many people are staying in (at least one!) Betting a draw with the expectation of getting callers is also different from calling because when you are calling, your pot odds also include what's already in the pot. For instance, if there's 100 in the pot already and somebody bets 40 to you, your pot odds are 140:40. On the other hand, if it was checked to you and you're thinking about betting, you only consider what you're betting plus the calls you get--the 100 in the middle already doesn't help your pot odds because you already had a share of it! In other words, just checking instead of betting gives you 100:0 odds. Betting or raising to build the pot can be +$EV with enough callers but yes, it will increase your variance.

In actual games it's better to bet with draws when there is the added chance of everybody folding or if it helps to set up a bluff for a future street if you don't hit the draw--in no-limit holdem I wouldn't do it with the sole purpose of building a pot.

On the other hand, in limit holdem, I could see the following scenario where it might be good: you are on the button with the nut flush draw and there's a bet and 4 callers ahead of you--you can go ahead and raise here knowing that most of the other 5 people in the pot will probably stay in, giving you good odds on the bet. Likewise, there are actually many times in split pot games such as Omaha Hi/Lo or 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo where you might not have a made hand but have multiple draws that could possibly win both the high and low. In fact, you can sometimes be a favorite in the hand with a monster draw so it's better to be betting and raising "on the come".

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    To clarify the math, with a 17% chance for river nut flush, i can call approx a 20% of pot raise (excluding implied odds), but if i raise, I need 6-7 callers to be +EV? – sakon Feb 8 '17 at 3:47
  • That looks right to me! – Dr.DrfbagIII Feb 8 '17 at 14:19
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It would certainly never be a value bet unless you think you are ahead.

Mathematically on a draw you want to see cards as cheap as possible every time. It is not the same as call math. On call you only have to call or fold. Here you have option to check.

To expect multiple callers after checked to you is silly. If there is a flush draw on the board top pair or better is going to bet to chase off a flush draw. If you bet out 40% you are representing top pair or better and are just going to fold them out.

Ace high may be good here. If you don't hit the flush you want to get to show down cheap.

Say bottom pair decides to call. You are for sure behind with only 20% chance of hitting a flush on turn.

If you are semi bluffing for fold equity then good play. If several people saw the flop then there is some money in the pot.

I don't agree with the logic of a blocking bet in early position with multiple players in the pot. A table is as likely to raise as call unless it is super passive.

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