Accuracy of information
The one problem that stands out when you consider raising for information, is that the success of your plan depends entirely on the information that you gather, being flawlessly correct. Typically, this can never be the case. Your assumptions are that an opponent will fold all weaker hands to a raise, call with their medium strength hands, and shove their strong hands. The truth is, these assumptions attempt to simplify a complicated situation in an unrealistic manner.
Raising with K,4 on a K,J,6 flop is not a great idea (Photo Thomas Van de Weerd)
In practice: Let's assume that you are holding K,4 on the button and you raise, with the small blind calling you. The flop falls K,J,6 and your opponent then leads out. You opt to raise for information, and your opponent shoves.
Can you really be absolutely sure that you are behind? If two of a suit are on the board, your opponent could conceivably have a flush draw, and even if the flop is rainbow, you can't rule out Q,10. Perhaps even A,Q may think that they have 7 outs if they get called, and enough fold equity to make a shove worthwhile. Also, with the nuts, your opponent could very easily decide to just call. To conclude, you can never be sure that a shove means strength.
Ask yourself: If I am facing a raise, am I really sure to be behind?
Your hand is too weak to bet for value
Raising a mediocre hand to find out where you are, tends to create the problem of only getting action from better hands. If your opponent has bet for value, and you've raised, you ensure that they get more value from their hand in the process. With a larger pot, your second best hand can cost you more on later streets too. If your opponent has nothing, and does fold, then all you've really done is prevented them from firing more barrels as a bluff with their very weak hands. The information you've then gained by raising can no longer be used to benefit you.
In practice: In our K,4 example, you could raise the flop, be called, and still feel totally unsure of what to do on the turn.
Ask yourself: Can I reasonably be called by weaker hands? If I am getting called, am I in trouble?
Your hand is too strong to bet as a bluff
In our example, your hand is too strong to consider turning into a bluff at this point. Sure, maybe a tight player folds K8 on this flop, but is he really folding a lot of better hands? If you opt to bluff, you must have a reasonable range of hands in mind that your opponent will not only fold – but that are also better than your own hand. Do not forget that the primary objective of a bluff is to induce a fold by an opponent who holds a better hand. Winning the pot might feel good, but in most cases, making your opponent fold worse hands isn't a positive outcome. Also, you open the door for your opponent to shove his holding, forcing you to fold the best hand.
In practice: If your opponent has 10,10 against your K,4 they can confidently fold to your raise. You are not bluffing (your K4 beats is TT) and you are not value betting (he is folding his Tens). But if you just called? Now they're sat wondering if they should try to barrel you off a Jack, whether they can still be ahead against a float with two overs, or if they should just check/fold.
Ask yourself: Will I induce a fold from a weaker hand?
Poker is not that simple
The key point when talking about raising for information, is that poker isn't simple, and there aren't easy questions you can ask by raising, that will provide clear answers. There are certainly reasons to raise in certain scenarios, but doing it for information is usually bad news. When you're at the poker table ,watching and memorizing what your opponent does through multiple betting streets, will give the greatest amount of information about what you should do.
Article by Craig B.