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Mini Mart Madness
November 20th, 2014 by John Anhalt in

There’s been an increased propensity for cash game players to use the minimum raise as their opening raise size. I’ve coached and seen players doing this A TON more in micro and small stakes games, when it was pretty much non-existent not that long ago. It’s especially prominent in speed poker games, where it makes a little more sense to do, since a lot of players will have already checked out of that table and won’t even be present. However, in non-speed poker games, using the min-raise in micro and small stakes game is bad strategy imho.

About 7 years ago or so, there was a high stakes online player I used to play with regularly who started opening all his hands as a min-raise in order to combat the 3-bet and 4-bet increases that were taking over the games. Most mid and small stakes games weren’t feeling this effect yet. But in our regular 5/10 and 10/20 NL games, 3-bet and 4-bet madness was slowly taking over.

The player who started doing this you’d probably know, but the name is irrelevant. His strategy was evident, and he was a winning player, but I disagreed with it then, and I still do now. I always laughed when I called with 45s out of the big blind and then busted his aces with 2 pair or some other major combo draw. It didn’t seem like the balance of trying to combat the 3-bet, outweighed the times you encouraged good players to play weak hands who could outplay you when they had position on you.

Weak players would still call with weak hands no matter what you raised, so why let them in for even cheaper? Was combating the 3-bet and 4-betting really that difficult, and did lowering the SPR really help that much? Again, my opinion was and still is no.

I think it’s even become more popular in micro and small stakes games because these guys see tournament players starting to use the min-raise later in tournaments on TV, and they think that same strategy should apply to cash games. It’s just a hunch, because it doesn’t really make much sense about why it’s being used so much more.

If you’re playing a solid, but even slightly loose range, let’s say a VPIP of 21-25 and PFR of 18-23, then you should be punishing the weaker players with bigger opening sizes. They are going to call no matter what, so why leave the money on the table and shrink you SPR? Are you really looking to get into a ton of re-raised pots OOP against the decent regulars in your game? If you open for 2bbs/100 with AK versus say 3 BBs, and your weak opponent calls with say T7s and whiffs the flop. You continuation bet a flop you whiffed and your opponent folds, that’s 100bb/100 you just lost. It just doesn’t make any sense to do really.

I’m not saying there will never be times to min-raise pre-flop, but I wouldn’t make that a default strategy. In fact, if you’re not looking to play ultra LAG, you should have your open sizing mostly in the 3-4 BB range. The regs in your game aren’t going to change their calling range, but their 3-betting range may increase. I think you end up just inviting the main argument for why the min-raise could be a good strategy.

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