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Preflop Raise or Fold ONLY Challenge


Sky Matsuhashi

on July 7, 2022

Are you ready to raise or fold ONLY preflop?

This is my 3-day challenge to you. You got the guts to play all-aggression preflop?

No limping or calling allowed.

*My Challenge Results Below!*

Watch this episode's video on the Smart Poker Study YouTube Channel:


Or, listen to the podcast as you follow along with details and screenshots below:


Raise or Fold ONLY Challenge Details

You're going to play your next 3 sessions with NO PREFLOP CALLING:

  • NO CALLING in any position.
  • No limping – your hand/position/opponents don't matter.
  • No calling open-raises – 3bet or fold versus open-raises only.
  • No defending blinds with a call – yep, you have to fold or 3bet with your set-mining hands and suited connectors.
  • No open-raise/call 3bet – even if you think you're ahead with your 99 vs his A5s… fold or get aggressive with a 4bet!
  • No 3bet/call 4bet – before 3bet bluffing, know he can fold. Before 3betting for value, know what you'll do if he 4bets (so put 'em on a range).
  • It is OKAY to check in the big blind.
  • ONE exception to the rule (there's always one): you can call their all-in shove (you can't reraise, but you don't want to fold).

This challenge is inspired by podcast episode #391: Getting to Poker's Fantasy Land. This episode was about getting as much Bread & Butter as possible.


Why take on this challenge?

This ensures that you're the preflop aggressor with the opportunity to cbet because… aggression wins in poker!

If you want to play hands, you'll be forced to make an aggressive play instead of calling. This aggression practice will make you stronger player. Plus, it will force you to analyze your opponent to gauge whether a re-raise is a +EV play.

  • You would normally call with 33 in the BB… is this worth 3betting instead?
  • You would sometimes call with AQs in the CO… not this time. It's 3bet or fold only, so know who you're 3betting and gauge how they'll respond.

You're going to be the one making preflop steals. Not facing them and not calling with a weaker range just to see the flop.

You won't face any cbets because you're NOT calling preflop.


0% limps, 2bet/call 3bet and call 2bet


No preflop calls = no cbets faced. However, I'm very turn honest when cbetting… gotta analyze this.


Don't Worry, Calling is Still on the Table… Post-flop

You'll probably face some donk bets, so you'll still have the opportunity to call post-flop (when folding or raising isn't better).

You'll face raises and check-raises versus your cbets, so be prepared. When you face raise, your options are to fold, call or raise. Which is most +EV?

There might be some floats and probes coming your way. So, plan for them should you choose to check instead of cbet.


It's Just 3 Sessions

Check out your results afterwards. It might be a small sample size, but you can still compare it to prior results to see how raise or fold only works for you.

See how you enjoy NOT calling (in the blinds, any position). For me, I LOVE to NOT be the caller. Folding is liberating.

Is poker easier? There's a good chance by folding more, you'll remove yourself from lots of tough spots. Especially the “out of position, calling in the blinds” spots and multiway spots.

Did you have more fun over these 3 sessions?

Was it a more interesting form of poker than normal? Were you forced to play the player and assess their tendencies more often (because calling often requires little thought)?

Do you like being the aggressor more often?


A Full Month of Raise or Fold ONLY

I'm challenging you to just 3 days, but I'm doing this challenge for an entire month! All of June 2022 will see me making NO CALLS (unless of course, they shove and I don't want to fold).

I was planning on putting in 5K-7K hands, and it ended up being 5,098 hands. Check out the results video below.


4-Day Test of Raise or Fold ONLY

I did this as a test for 4 days, playing 1,063 hands of this style. Here are my results versus the prior 1,023 hands played:

WR = win rate


Good luck to those who take on this challenge!


End of Challenge Results For June of 2022

Main Takeaways:

  1. Loved this challenge!
  2. Aggression wins
  3. Folding is okay
  4. Find more hands to 3bet because you can't call and you don't want to fold

Watch as I discuss my results and review hands:


Or, listen to the podcast:


The numbers below reflect my 5,094 hands of Raise or Fold Only Poker against the prior 18,236 of regular poker hands played on Ignition Poker.

Notable Statistical Results

I only called preflop twice, both versus 3bet shoves and I didn't want to fold!

3betting and 3bet stealing more… me likes! And winning after calling river at 73%… can't shake a stick at that.

Notable Win Rate Results

Aggression Wins!

Wow, a 50% increase in VPIPing win rate! Plus, a huge increase in river calling win rate and ZERO losses from calling preflop 2bets!

Tips for Playing Raise or Fold Only

These are the tips, but to see a hand review for each tip, play the video above.

It’s okay to fold!

  • I, your coach, give you permission to fold.
  • Folding, instead of passively calling, gives you more brain space to think about other tables or hands. You can put more focus on your next open-raise or 3bet, and that's much better than devoting brain space to a calling hand.

It's a great feeling when you fold and avoid tough OOP calling hands:

  • You’re OOP
  • You’ve capped your range by calling
  • Likely just check-folding on most flops

More fun to 3bet than call, IP and OOP:

  • Take charge!
  • Aggression wins
  • Attack the fish

Have a “no brainer” call, but you can’t call, so you have to think about the value of 3betting:

  • Can he fold?
  • Can he call with worse?

Look ahead for 3bettors before open-raising because you can’t call:

  • Look for LAG & TAG players
  • 3bet 6% + or a history of 3bets made


Sky Matsuhashi

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