Unopened pot

Unopened pot

When only the blinds are in the pot it is called unopened. You normally start with a raise, not a call (limping). Some of the reasons are:

  • Raising puts pressure on opponents
  • Raising makes it easier to get away with bluffs later
  • Raising in general makes more money
  • Limping creates multiway pots, which reduce skill advantage
  • Rake is normally only charged postflop, so winning preflop is desirable
  • For more information, see How to win money from limpers
  • Exceptions are made in MTT, especially in small blind (mainly since there is no rake)

This is an introduction to the topic, see Preflop Opening Ranges for more details.


Position is key

In early positions, you need to play a lot tighter than in late positions. With several players acting after you, the risk that someone defends against your raise is much bigger. You also risk playing postflop out of position. For more information, see Poker positions.

Bet sizing

It is recommended to raise 2 – 3x big blind. A common size is 2.5 bb (big blinds) in all positions except SB, where 3 bb is often used. In live cash games the open raise size is often a bit bigger, for more information, see Preflop bet sizing 2023.

Early position

In early positions, there are many players left to act. Anyone of them can have a strong hand, making life difficult. This means you need to play tight (few hands).

Unopened pot

Open raise LJ

In a cash game with 100 bb stack in the LJ position, we raise with 17.5% of our hands and fold the rest.

Late position and Small blind

In late positions there are few players left to act, which means you can often steal the blinds. The risk of needing to play postflop out of position is also smaller (or zero in the button). This means you should play looser (more hands).

Unopened pot

Open raise BTN

In a cash game with 100 bb stack in the BTN position, we raise 41.8% of our hands and fold the rest.

It is challenging to memorize all the different charts just by looking at them. It is also hard to know if you remember correctly. We strongly recommend practicing preflop ranges in the preflop exercise to help you commit them to memory and get feedback on mistakes.

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