Raising for Information

I was playing 8/16 tonight at a place here in town called Parker’s Casino, and had a ten-nine offsuit in the big blind. There were three callers, and I got a free look at the flop.

The flop came K-T-3 rainbow. I was in a horrible position with a middle pair and a weak kicker. The small blind, me, and a guy in mid-position checked over to the button, who put in a bet. Now, he could have had just bet with about anything… I wanted to know right then and there if my middle pair was good before I started paying off big bets. The small blind called, and I raised. The guy in middle position folded, and the button stared at me for a second, then “confidently” called. The small blind called quickly.

Now I should mention that the guy in the small blind was a total calling station… I wasn’t concerned about his call. My read on the dealer told me that my tens were good, but with two callers I couldn’t be certain. I decided I was about 60% sure that my tens were the best hand, and would do pot-odds calculations on future rounds based on that number.

Of course, I got lucky: the turn came a nine, giving me two pair… so I knew I was going to get a chance to see if my original read was correct. The small blind checks, I check, knowing that the button (who had seen me raise for information before) would be very likely to bet this card. Sure enough, he bet out. Small blind called, and I raised. (I find it amusing that this guy let me check-raise him TWICE in one hand, but that’s not the point. I assume he thought I would never try it twice in a row like that.) The button calls, and the small blind finally folds.

The river shows a blank, and I bet it, and get a call… when the button turned over his pocket eights, my original read was confirmed, and I dragged a $190 (12 big bets) pot. The small blind later revealed that he had given up on his gutshot strait, which (of course) never came. My read was correct: even if that nine hadn’t come, I had the best hand.

Raises are a powerful weapon. The “raise for information,” while I don’t use it every time, is sometimes the best way to avoid paying off big bets with a second-best hand. (It goes without saying that these are only appropriate on the flop, where the bets are small.)