In No Limit Hold'em games, I've noticed that when playing in lower level games, other players are much more likely to call your pre-flop raises - very different to what you see in professional games where maybe 1 other player calls.

Even after making a decent sized pre-flop raise of 3-4 BB, it often happens that 5 or 6 out of the 9 players at the table will call the raise, and you are left playing for a huge pot not quite sure of how strong your hand really is. Some players never seem to fold, even with very marginal hands.

In these types of games, is there any point to raising pre-flop at all if half the players at the table will routinely call? I'm reluctant to raise any more than about 5 BB pre-flop because I prefer playing for smaller pots. How do you adjust your playing style in these situations?


2 Answers 2


You can generally approach these tables with a 'passive-aggressive' style. Meaning be tight pre-flop and aggressive post-flop.

Playing tight pre-flop is very important. Be selective with what sort of hands you open pre-flop. Since your opponents are very loose, you often find yourself in multi-way pots. Therefore you want to play hands that can make the nuts like high pocket pairs, suited aces and high connectors. Avoid playing low pocket pairs and low suited connectors, since these hands are usually used as 'bluffs' that can steal the blinds, but that won't ever work in a line-up like this. Make sure you do raise when you enter the pot. You raise with a strong range of hands and you want to get value. 3-4BB seems reasonable. But be careful, since your opponents don't play with discipline it is very easy to fall into this trap as well, don't do this and stick to your strategy.

Now let's discuss playing aggressive post-flop. Now it is time to punish your opponents. They have a very marginal range in most spot, while you have a much stronger range. Bet big and muscle them out of the pot with their marginal holdings. If they called you a couple of times with marginal hands, lower your bluffing frequency. What a lot of people don't realise is that there are so many combinations of marginal hands, if someone calls with one, it usually means they call with most of them. You have a lot of value hands in your range. Get value. Own them.


I'm facing the same situation in our league-games every week. When the blinds are small, even a 4BB-raise is snap-called by everyone, especially if the player in position after you called. The rest calls then with almost any hand, as the pot is big. First I was also mad and tried to raise way more as 4BB, but even this was called (it also makes no sense, you actually want someone to call you). So I found my strategy for this: if you are raising with a really strong hand, it's even good that they boost the pot, as it should become yours at the end. You will most probably also hit something on the flop, then bet normally. I bet 1/2 pot, as if you bet too less, they will call hoping to hit something later and they usually do). However, if the flop is dangerous (like flush/straight draw) and I'm the first to act, I would consider betting a lot (2/3 or pot) to push the drawing hands out. If someone still calls and turn is not dangerous, I would continue with C-bet (although he can have a set, then just check the river, if he calls turn). If flush/straight comes - check/fold. If someone already bet the flop, I would definitely raise more than 2,5-fold from his bet to see if he really has anything. Usually this helps a lot. Anyway, the most important thing is to let it go, if your hand is not that strong after the flop. Do not bet desperately to push them out, if you didn't hit anything (unless you have an overpair), someone can already have two pair, even if it seems ridiculous. So, if you are not strong anymore - just fold after flop, you will surely get another chance later. I hope this helps.

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