Isolation Raise

by trikkur

A new strategy to improve your win rate while on the button is called an “Isolation Raise”. An isolation raise is a preflop raise made after a player limps into the pot before you. Limping into the pot means just calling the big blind instead of raising with your hand preflop. An example of this would be if UTG+1 calls the big blind and you are on the button with . You should make a raise to 4-5 big blinds, which would be considered an isolation raise. It is called an isolation raise because you are trying to isolate against that one bad player that decided to limp in to the pot and make the hand heads up versus them.

These raises are designed to win a large amount of small pots, which can add up over many sessions. This works because your opponent is likely holding a weak hand; they might have something like 22-44, a mid suited connector, Ace-rag, or two random Broadway cards. If they were holding a stronger hand towards the top of their range, then a raise by them would make more sense. This limp is your signal to strike and isolate that bad limping player with a weak hand.

Isolation Raise

Possible Results of an Isolation Raise

The most common result is they will just fold preflop to your isolation raise. This is going to instantly win you 2.5 big blinds, which is a nice profit for a crappy hand like that you don’t really want to play postflop anyway. They may also call your preflop raise, in which case you should just make your standard 75% pot continuation bet. Again, this is going to have a high frequency of working because your opponent has already shown weakness preflop by limping and calling.

If your continuation bet gets called or raised, it is now time for you to actually play poker. Depending on your hand and what the flop is, you will have a lot of options because you will still have position on the limper. If he calls and just checks the turn, you can fire a second barrel with both your strong hands for value and a portion of your garbage as bluffs. Balancing your range like this makes it very difficult for opponents to play against you when they are out of position.

You can also use the concept of checking for value to check behind on the turn with some medium strength made hands. If your hand is bad, then do not forget that checking behind and folding to his river bet is perfectly acceptable. Not losing more money when you are beat is going to affect your win rate just as much as winning pots and value betting will. Your opponents must risk more chips than you, while at a positional disadvantage if they want to check/raise the flop or turn. Even if you check back the turn and your opponent wants to bet the river, you were able to see a free card and possibly catch a lucky card to improve your hand.

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