What Is A Raise In A Poker Game?
Raising is done in response to another player's bet: instead of calling, you've decided to up the stakes, put more into the pot, and demand your opponent do the same.
When to Raise
There are a lot of reasons to raise, maybe you think you have the best hand, the best draw, maybe you think your opponent is bluffing, or maybe you want to bluff yourself, but all of them boil down to one of two reasons:
You want your opponent to put more money into the pot. This is, of course, the whole point of poker! The more your opponent puts in, the more you can win later. If your opponent bets, and you decide you have the better hand, you want to raise them so that you can win even more.
You want your opponent to fold. You're bluffing! Or, you have the best hand now, but you don't want your opponent to chase their draw. Maybe you just want to be going against a player one-on-one, and you want to make sure others aren't tagging along to mess up your odds or position. Regardless, there's plenty of times where you raise in order to scare others out of the pot.
How to Raise
When action is on you, you can simply state, "Raise." Verbal bets are binding. Once you get that out of the way, determine how much you want to raise, but don't spend too much time noodling with your chips, since you might (a) get the clock called on you or (b) accidentally make a string bet, move chips in a way that another play can interpret as your raise, and end up making the wrong sized bet.
How you raise varies based on betting structure:
You can only raise the betting amount prescribed. In some limit games, you might have a choice between a small bet and a big bet, depending on the round of betting or what cards are showing. There is also usually a cap on the number of raises allotted per round, no more than three bets in most cases.
The minimum raise you are allowed to make is in increments of the previous bet or raise.
This means if a player bets $5, you can't raise $3, you need to raise by $5 or more.
The same goes for reraising: if a player bets $5 and another raises it by $10, you must also bet in an increment of $10.
Also in pot-limit, note that the size of the pot is determined by how much is in the pot after you meet the initial bet; that is, if someone is betting or raising ahead of you, you meet the previous bet, then count the chips in the pot, that is the biggest bet you're allowed to make.
Action only is a rule that players must raise in increments of the previous bets, even if they want to raise all-in. This means that if a player bets $10, and you want to raise all of your $18 stack, you can't go all-in: you can't raise in the minimum increment and have to wait until the next round of betting. This rule is designed to stop players from colluding and scaring other players out of a big pot. Always know the rules on action only at any table you sit at.