Mailbag: Pre-Flop Raise Sizing

Thinking Poker Mailbag

This question actually comes from the Tournament Poker Edge forums, but I decided to answer it here as it references the Thinking Poker Premium Podcasts.

Q: In episode three, at around the 10 minute mark, you describe how open raise sizes should be a function of the pot size, which in turn means a function of the ante and blind sizes. Then you offer an answer to the question “why do we therefore tend to sometimes 2.5-3x in the very early stages and tend towards minraise at the later stages?” and the answer is that stack sizes come into play, meaning that at the later stages, even though the pot is nice and huge, everyone tends to have significantly less BB in their stack to work with/everyone must protect their stacks more. This makes sense, and you do continue to say that if stack sizes were not hugely different once antes are introduced, you would still open raise with sizing as a function of pot and ante sizes. Do I have this all correct?

If so, my question is – is this a good example of what you describe:

Episode 102 Dara O’Kearney

Dara O’Kearney went pro somewhat later in life than your average grinder, but his background in bridge, chess, backgammon, and most recently ultramarathoning made him a natural. He’s also a natural raconteur and an excellent writer. We talk about his unconventional background, the Irish poker scene, his staking business, and more. For even more stories, follow Dara on Twitter or check out his excellent blog.


0:30 – Hello & Welcome
8:29 – Strategy: a hand that will haunt you for the rest of your life
45:33 – Interview: Dara O’Kearney


Blinds 6K-12K with a 2K Ante. Villain (350K) opens to 25K, Hero (500K) calls ATo on the button, everyone else folds.

Flop As 8s 6h. Villain checks, Hero bets 75K into 84K, Villain calls.

Turn 3h. Villain checks, Hero shoves, Villain calls.

Podcast Guests Have Great Success

The World Poker Tour has been kind to our podcast guests this week. Faraz Jaka won the WPT South Africa High Roller over one million rand (about $100,000), and Ryan van Sanford won the Bounty Scramble in Jacksonville for $421,068 (plus some bounties, presumably)! Ryan’s achievement is even more impressive when you learn that he’d been twenty-one for just three days. Way to go guys!

Episode 101: Jim Greer

Jim Greer, founder of Kongregate, is an avid poker player. Now he’s using game theory to combat “dark money” in American politics through CounterPAC, an organization that threatens to outspend candidates who accept anonymous donations. He joins the show to talk about his “gamesplaying” approach to campaign finance reform and the threat that Sheldon Adelson and others pose to American democracy.

:30 Hello and welcome
3:38 Crazy happenings at the poker table
8:31 Strategy: out of position with a set in a multiway pot
23:51 Interview: Jim Greer

bovada 20+2 tourney
blinds 40/80
villain 1 stack 6344
villain 2 stack 3393
hero in BB stack 7575
Villain one opens to 280 from middle position and action folds to small blind who calls.
Hero looks down at two black 3s and completes for 200.

pot goes to 840
flop 4d9c2d
all checks around

turn 3d
we turn a set and the small blind checks to us
hero bets 528 and villain one calls with villain 2 folding

pot 1896
river comes 6c
final board run out
hero holds 33 for a set and bets 766

The Hangover, Nitcast-Style

Episode 101 of the podcast is coming this week, hopefully tonight. It may be a bit delayed, but it will be out soon.

In the meantime, you need to check out this great article from Carlos Welch, where he talks about cruising Las Vegas with some folks that regular podcast listeners and blog readers will recognize: Keone Young, Piefarmer, and Breyer. Needless to say, I’m beyond flattered to see this blog credited with bringing them together, though I’m also grateful to them and the many other regular commenters here who have contributed to this sense of community.

I know that posts here have been scant since WCOOP ended. Now that I’m more settled in San Francisco, I expect to resume more substantive posting. Thanks to you all!

Lessons From the Felt

My latest Two Plus Two article, Lessons From the Felt, is a deviation from the norm. Instead of explaining something to do with poker strategy, I talk about some things I learned from poker that helped me in the difficult task of finding an apartment in San Francisco:

When an apartment comes on the market, the owner or realtor usually hosts an open house, and attending is generally your only shot at securing that apartment. Even if you decide immediately that you like a place and hand over a check, credit report, and application on the spot, you end up in a pile with several others, only one of whom will be chosen. There’s no question of visiting several apartments, considering multiple options, and then choosing your favorite. In all likelihood, your favorite was snatched up before you got to your next open house.

The upshot of all of this is that Emily and I were forced to make a high-stakes decision quickly, under pressure, and with incomplete information.

It Finally Happened

We came close a few times, but we managed to make it through one hundred episodes without ever losing an entire interview to any combination of technical difficulties and user error. Shane Schleger, the guest on our first and fifty-first shows, was kind enough to grace us with his time and his usual candidness for our one hundred and first.

It was a tough interview, for us and I imagine for Shane as well. He alluded in past interviews to mental health issues (that may not be the he way he put it, but it’s the best way I can think to put it right now), and he seemed depressed when we spoke to him this time around. Nonetheless, he was his usual forthright self, and we had a good conversation about the challenges of finding direction and meanin ing life, how poker affected him for better and for worse, and many other things. I say that it was a tough interview because, for me and I think for Nate as well, it was upsetting to hear our friend suffering and to feel powerless to help.

Recording the interviews is generally my responsibility. I use two programs for this, including one that is supposed to record my Skype calls automatically. It didn’t start as it was supposed to, and I failed to notice that it was not running.

Live MTT Hand History Review

My latest series of poker tournament training videos is now appearing on Tournament Poker Edge. This review of some key hands from a $2000 main event at Maryland Live is a rare chance to see a training video focused on a live multi-table tournament, and to see me butt heads with the likes of Christian Harder and Brian Hastings.

If you aren’t already a member, please click here to sign up for Tournament Poker Edge.

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