Backraising in no limit hold ‘em is cold calling a pre-flop raise and then re-raising when the action gets back around to you if there’s another raise before the pre-flop action is complete.
A good example would be the following: Let’s say you’re playing 6-max cash and 100 big blinds deep on the cutoff with TT. An early position player raises and you decide to call the raise hoping to flop a set, or perhaps use your positional advantage to win the pot. Now the player on the button, an extremely aggressive player who you perceive is always 3-betting and squeezing goes ahead and lives up to his reputation, and re-raises. The initial raiser then folds and the action is back to you.
In this spot, you might decide that the button is squeezing with such a wide range here that you can profitably 4-bet, making him fold many combos which have 45% equity against you or perhaps inducing him to go all-in with a lower pair. The range of hands with which he will 3-bet and then 5-bet against a backraise obviously depends strongly on how he views you.
Typical Backraising Strategies
A common trait among many straightforward players is to decide to backraise with a medium pocket pair, only after cold-calling and seeing the squeeze from the aggressive player, figuring that their hand has good equity and the squeezer is ‘out of line’.
To a good player, this strategy is quite transparent and they can easily counter it by 5-betting a wide range of broadway hands which will usually have good equity against a straightforward player’s backraising range as well as having blocker cards to the potentially strong part of their range.
To protect your backraising range, and by extension your cold-calling range, you should always strive to have some very strong hands like AA, KK and AK in it. A good time to do this would be when a reasonably loose player opens under-the-gun and there’s in an extremely liberal squeezer in position to act after you. If you 3-bet in this situation, you’re likely to make both the initial raiser and the serial squeezer fold a high percentage of the time.
However, if you decide to just cold call the initial raise, you can increase your expected value by inducing a squeeze from the aggressive player and then continuing as you see fit, or by seeing a flop in position versus the initial raiser with a well disguised strong hand.
Other Considerations for Backraising
As we mentioned, backraising is very much dependent on your opponents at the table, your seat position at the table, how they perceive you, and gameflow at the time, so be sure to pay attention to all of these factors when deciding whether or not to backraise. Conversely, try to be aware of how much attention your opponents are paying. Chances are that people playing 8 tables are not as aware of the dynamics on any one individual table as you may be, and therefore you will have to tailor your backraising strategy accordingly.