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Raising to Gain Information

Raising simply to gain information is a tricky play and shouldn't be done often. Generally you should consider any information gained as an extra benefit of a raise you are making for other reasons.

There are occasions, though, when you cost yourself less by raising to gain information early than you would if you had not led your opponent into giving his hand away. These occasions usually occur in heads-up situations and only in early betting rounds. Furthermore, your opponent should be the type of player whose response to your raise is likely to reflect the hand he is holding. Otherwise your raise could very well give you wrong information.

What can you learn by raising? Well, if your opponent calls, he probably has a good hand. If he reraises, he probably has a very good hand. (It's for this reason you cannot raise to gain information when your opponent is the sort of player who is capable of a semi-bluff reraise.) If your opponent folds, that, of course, tells you he's weak, and you take down the money. An added benefit to raising to gain information is that sometimes your opponent may fold marginal hands that he shouldn't have folded.

You invest in an early raise to gain information in order to save yourself money later. If, for example, you call on fourth street in seven stud, you may continue to call three more bets only to discover in the showdown that you didn't have a chance from the beginning. But a raise on fourth street followed by a call or a reraise from your opponent allows you to play your hand knowing you're up against considerable strength. Depending upon your own strength, you can then decide whether and how long it's worth continuing in the hand.

On the other hand, if you suspect one or both of the higher pairs behind you will call your raise, not only should you not raise, you should not even call the original bet since you are beat in two places and may get beat in a third. This somewhat rare situation is one of those times when your only alternatives are to raise or fold. It is a time when a call is patently incorrect.

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