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Standard Preflop Raises in NL Tournaments 

The standard preflop raise in NL Hold'em Tournaments, varies based on a few factors. These factors are:
1) Are there just blinds, or are there antes as well?
2) What is your stack size?
3) Are there any limpers?
4) Will your opponents fold to a smaller raise as frequently as they will fold to a larger raise.

Before we begin to explore all the factors, realize that the typical preflop raise without any antes is somewhere from 2.5x-4x the Big Blind, with 3x being the most standard. Thus when the blinds are 10-20, the most common raising amount is 60, with anywhere from 50-80 also being reasonable. Doing something like moving all-in for 1000 chips when the blinds are 10-20, is almost always absurd, regardless of your cards.Minimum raising preflop is usually poor poker. You are giving the big blind tremendous odds to call you. Almost NO strong players make minimum raises preflop (A minimum raise would be making it 400 if the blinds were 100-200). There are exceptions to this rule, as poker is a game in which many different styles can be successful, however it's important to understand that minimum raising preflop is very unorthodox play, and usually requires exceptional postflop abilities.

Now let’s examine the factors and see what affect they should have on your raising amounts.

pHow to adjust your raises when there are antes AND blinds:

When antes are thrown into the pot, it’s logical that your raises should generally be slightly larger than if there are no antes. This is logical because when the pot is bigger, logic follows that you should do more to protect it. You should be more apt to raise 3.5-4x the blinds when antes are in play, than if they weren’t. However sometimes a 3x the BB raise will have the same effect as a 4x the BB raise, and thus you should usually make the smaller raise. This will be discussed later.

2) What is your stack size?

If the blinds are 100-200 and your stack size 1200, then the normal raise amount would be 600. However it’s absurd to simply put half of your of your stack into the pot. Because of this, the proper raise is to move all-in In general if you are raising more than 1/3rd of your chips preflop, it’s usually best to simply put them all in the pot.

3) Are there any limpers?

The presence of limpers should change your preflop raising strategy. Usually if I originally planned to raise to 3x the BB, and there is a limper in the pot, I will now raise to 4x the BB. If there are two limpers, I will now raise to 5x the BB, and if 3 limpers I’d raise to 6x the BB and so on. Of course these are not ironclad rules, but you should raise more money based on the number of callers you have in front of you.

4) Will your opponents fold to a smaller raise as frequently as they will fold to a larger raise?

There comes a point late in the tournament, where it may no longer be necessary to make a raise for 4x the BB, even with antes in the pot. You could be playing exceptionally tight player who will either fold or reraise you, and not pay much attention to the size of your raise. In these situations if the blinds are 1500-3000 with a 500 chip ante, you may achieve the same exact effect if you raise 8000 than if you raise to 10000. When these conditions are present it usually makes sense to raise to the smaller amount, so that if someone wakes up with a big hand and reraises you, you have lost 2000 less chips.

However you should be very careful before getting into a habit of making smaller raise amounts. Late in the tournament, when every pot is of utmost importance, you really don’t want to do something to convince people to make moves or call your bets, when you don’t have extremely strong hands.

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