Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

I've been playing on and off for a decade after being introduced by a friend.

I played regularly for a few years during the poker boom and had a decent record at the micros, particularly Rush and Zoom No Limit Hold'em games (here's one of my graphs).

Around 2012 I began a new career which involved immersing myself completely in study in my spare time, so I had little to no time for poker. However recently this burden has eased and so I have been gradually dipping back in.

I'm an amateur player who still hopes to some day beat the rake.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Big Blind Play, I Suck. #1

When faced with a button steal, I am currently folding a significant amount of the time in the big blind. If I face a standard raise at my limit of 0.75, I risk 0.5 to call. As a pure pot odds decision I need (0.5/(0.5 + 1.1)) = 0.3125 or 31% equity to call. Against a button stealer who is raising half of their hands this means from a pure pot odds perspective I could call with any two cards profitably (if there was no post flop play). Of course doing this in play would be pretty ridiculous right? Because playing out of position is bad. I wonder how much of an equity advantage playing in position gives a poker player.

Against a 50% button stealing range the following hands have better than 50% equity.
{ 44+,A2s+,K8s+,QTs+,JTs,A5o+,KTo+ }
Surely then, this is the bare minimum range of hands we should be playing in this spot? Surely being out of position cannot make up for us having hands that are favourite added to the excellent preflop pot odds we are getting?


Position, Equity and Risk of the Squeeze
So it's clear that playing in position grants some amount of non trivial equity but until NLHE is solved I don't think we'll know how much. While playing with some ranges I digressed onto playing a decent range on the button versus a 15% opening raise.

Our preflop pot odds facing a standard single raise are around 45%. Assuming the raiser is indeed raising 15% of hands the following hands have better than 45% equity:
{ 55+,ATs+,KQs,AJo+,KQo }
However since we have position then we should be able to play a wider range than this. 22 should be a call on the button I think, and their equity is 38%. Interestingly middle suited connectors do pretty poorly but many good players advocate playing them in this situation. So if we widen our calling range to hands with better than 38% equity to include 22 then we have a flatting range of:
{ 22+,A2s+,K6s+,QTs+,JTs,T9s,A3o+,KTo+ }
The most surprising hands here for me are the low rag aces. I have never seen anyone advocate flatting them in this situation. Of course they suffer from reverse implied odds so perhaps (since A3o - A8o are all very close at 38-40% equity) we can fold them. Perhaps the lower suited connectors have enough implied odds that they can be included but bear in mind that 76s has 36.6% equity preflop and this seems like a lot to make back up to me.

We must also bear in mind the risk of the squeeze. I deliberately chose the button for this analysis because it minimizes this risk. A squeeze devalues our calling range somewhat but providing it isn't happening too often we can merely exclude the most marginal hands from our button flatting range and sometimes flat with KK+ to defend the rest of our range.

So in summary, a decent button flatting range versus a 15% open will probably look something like:
{ QQ-22,A2s+,K8s+,QTs+,JTs,T9s,98s,87s,76s,ATo+,KTo+ }

Note that the 3-betting portion of this range (KK+) is just what I would be 3-betting for value against a 15% opener who is playing a 4-bet or fold style. Against someone who calls out of position we can 3-bet more hands for value.

This range definitely looks like the sort of range I've seen good players call with on the button and seems reasonable to me. In this situation that would lead me to believe that position grants an equity gain of around 7% in the current games against suboptimal opponents. Do you agree? Does this flatting range seem good to you?

EDIT: The very marginal hands in this button flatting range (suited connectors, rag suited aces, weak suited kings and weak pairs) can be difficult to play post flop and also suffer from domination. For these reasons they are probably at least as profitable when used as 3-bet bluffs. I don't think calling with them is bad however as long as we are aggressive enough post flop.

I think that doing work like this is really helping me to get a better grasp of overall strategy so I highly recommend mucking about with the excellent application HoldemViewer which is the tool I used for the analysis above. GL


  1. I think you're braver than me for a calling range (& I'm 6max!), but it'd be nice to work that into my game (just so I can play more pots :-) )

    Aren't you worried that K8-KJ & QJ hands will be dominated and very hard to play OOP?

    Also the 22-99 & 87s-T9s hands tend to be my 3bet bluff resteal range since I've given up playing those PP for sets now as they give better value from the 3bet FE + occasional shock set value. At the very least I know I can let these hands go if my cbet gets called/raised...

  2. holdem viewer looks cool.

    Try this range in it;


  3. Good points, I'll edit the post right now... You're correct, many of the hands are so marginal that I think 3-betting them and taking the preflop equity is probably the best way to go. And the hands you have chosen definitely fall into that subset.
    I also agree that reverse implied odds and domination should definitely factor into our thinking, so as far as the blind calling range goes we should probably be 3-bet/folding the weaker broadways that you mentioned.
    Thanks :)

  4. Try this range in it;


    LOL - my new button raising range for sure :)