Author Archive

Play from the small-blind

The small blind is rightly considered the worst position at the poker table. Not only do you have to deposit money into the pot with your basic bet before you’ve seen your cards. You also play against the rest of the table without position …

Position is the nuts and bolts of no-limit hold’em poker. Most poker pros agree that position and good positional play are probably the most important strategies. In the small-blind compared to all your teammates have the worse position, so the position disadvantage. Without position, you have to act first and your opponents can already see a lot of information on your turn and on your placement behavior. Also, without a position, it’s very difficult for you to control the size of the pot: You win smaller pots and lose bigger pots than positional advantage. These are very good reasons to make your small-blind strategy relatively tight.

From the small-blind you should usually play a very tight strategy.

Small-blind preflop strategy

You should choose your preflop strategy in the small-blind very tight, as you have the worst position at the poker table later in the hand. You could argue with that, for example, after an opening crack from the cut-off and a call from the button good relative position on the flop would have (more on the relative position can be found here), but this is only partially true, since you also still the big one -Blind should take into account. Firstly, the big-blind might feel encouraged by the multiway action to squeeze. Second, the BB in a call would have the better relative position in the hand.

Hand selection from the small blind

With strong hands such as AA, KK, QQ, AK, … (depending on your opponent’s range), you should usually preflop a 3-bet, since it is very difficult without post position to build up the pot. At the same time you will reduce the stack-to-pot ratio and the hand will be easier to play.

So that your 3-bet range does not become too predictable, you should compensate this. In addition I recommend hands like 79s, which are relatively easy to play postflop and with which you can not get in trouble. Hands like K7s are in position very well suited to 3-bets, but without position you are constantly creating situations that can make you sweat a lot.

For preflop calls, hands like small and medium sized pocket pairs are very easy to play. Make sure that there is not an aggressive squeezer in the big blind, against whose 3-bets you have to give up your relatively weak hand.

Although you can extend your range against frequent steals, you should react much more conservatively than in the big blind.

If no one has opened before you, then you should make your style of play depending on the big blind. If it is a very tight opponent, then you can open a very wide range and make it automatically profit. But an attentive big-blind opponent will soon see through your tactics, often taking advantage of his positional advantage. Then it’s time to drastically reduce your opening range.

Small blind against short stacks
Against frequent steals of short stacks, you can usually defend yourself with a wide 3-bet range.

Small-blind in deep-stacked games
If the stacks get bigger (> 150BB), then you should be extra careful from the small blind. The position advantage of your opponents is just too big and the risk too high. With big stacks, playing without position is a nightmare and you should be careful not to get involved in complicated situations.

Small-blind post-flop strategy
If you choose your hands (no problem hands) and your moves very preflop very carefully, then you should also have postflop relatively little difficulty. When playing without a position is often a crucial criterion in the course of the hand to take the initiative – be it with a 3-bet preflop and with the continuation of the aggression on the flop or with a check-raise on the flop.

Summary:
The small-blind is the most unpleasant position in no-limit hold’em poker. Lack of information and poor control over the pot size make playing from this position very difficult. That’s why a very tight strategy is usually the best.

Flat calling ranges in poker

Flat-calling in no-limit Hold’em poker has something special: beginners do it too often – advanced players often do not do enough. How to optimize your Flat Calling Range is explained in this article.

Today’s strategy article is all about flat-calling – the cradling of elevations in position and without position. The big drawback to this move is that, unlike a 3-bet or opening, we do not take the initiative. That’s why we have to choose our flat-calling range very carefully, both in position and without position. The following tips and poker strategies are especially for 100BB online games.

Flat Calling Ranges in position

Position is the key to successful no-limit hold’em poker. That’s why we can design our flat-calling range much further in position than without a position.

Flat calling with pocket pairs in position

In position you should usually call with all pocket pairs a preflop raise, with which you do not want to start a 3-bet. This is of course dependent on the situation, but will mostly correspond to the range of 22-TT – against openings from early positions additionally JJ and against some players even QQ. If you have very aggressive players or short-stackers behind you who regularly squeeze, then you can occasionally just call with KK or AA and let them run into the trap.

If you hold a small pocket par (22-66), then there are often three higher cards on the flop. You should just give up your hand against a continuation bet. Middle pairs are a little better: you can call a continuation bet on many boards and reevaluate the situation on the turn.

Flat calling with suited connectors in position

In order to call a raise with suited connectors profitably, you usually need position. You often hold a hand on the flop that has some equity and you would like to see the turn. Without position and initiative, it is not possible to make a profit with these hands in most game situations.

Flat calling with Broadways in position

Suited Broadways are great for a flat call. Very often you flop enough equity (pairs, backdoor draws, overcards, …) to float profitably or bluff.

Offsuit Broadways are also good, but you should play a bit more conservative. Against a opening from a late position is a call from the button with QJo or AJo certainly profitable, against an increase from early position but not. Strong Broadways such as AQ or KQ can also be included in position in your Flating-Range – with AK you should usually start a 3-bet.

Flat calling with suited aces in position

Most good poker players love suited aces. In many situations you flop enough backdoor equity to float profitably or bluff.

Flat calling without position

Without position (from the blinds) you should make your flat-calling range much more conservative. The position penalty is just too big to flatten profitably many of the above hands.

Good hands for a call against openings from late position are middle pairs and suited broadways – but you should be careful with openings from early positions, and very, very tight flatten.

Squeeze play

In poker, there are many moves that are often strange for outsiders. ‘What does he do?’ – ‘Did not he see his cards?’. One of these moves is the squeeze play.

Of course, you have often been in the following situation: You are sitting on the button, the loose cut-off opens and you call with a suitably-suited connector. The big blind bets on a 3-bet that fold-off folds, and you too severely part with your suited connector. A similar situation a few laps later: the cut-off opens and you call with a promising pair 55. The aggressive big blind is again setting up a 3-bet. The cut-off throws his hand away and you, too, have to leave your couple, a bit annoyed. Without seeing a flop, the big blind profits with its aggressive preflop tactics: Welcome to the Squeeze Play!

Definition of the squeeze play

A loose player opens the pot with a raise and is called. A player from late position or from the blinds bets a 3-bet or more precisely a 3-bet bluff to steal the pot preflop.

Why does squeeze play work?

In order for the squeeze play to be as successful as possible, the player who raises the pot should be a relatively low-skilled player – a player with a very wide opening range and, on average, a relatively weak hand. The hand of the caller is most likely also only medium strong, otherwise he would have even set a 3-bet. The decisive re-raise to steal the pot preflop, the squeeze, has a very high probability of success in this scenario and is therefore very profitable.

What do you have to keep in mind when squeezing play?

As mentioned earlier, squeeze play is all about the situation. If a player opens with a tight range, then you should avoid squeezing. You have the greatest chance of success against a player who opens very wide but gives up many of his hands against a 3-bet. Your hand strength is relatively unimportant for the squeeze play (the stacks are deeper, then hands with good postflop playability choose).

You should always be aware of which table image you have right now. If you have a tight image, your teammates will also pay more respect to your 3-bet and give up their hand. If you have a rather bad image, then you should avoid this move.

Another important point is the stack sizes – this is especially true in tournament situations. Attack players with mid-sized stacks and avoid desperate short stacks looking for situations to double their stack. Even players with very large stacks tend to make very loose 3-bet calls in tournaments. Also note that your 3-bet does not risk too much of your own stacks and ‘commites’ to it.

o Squeeze play depends on the situation – not on your hand strength
o the opening player should have a wide range
o you should have a tight image
o Note stack sizes

example
In the late phase of a tournament, you are on the button and have 26,000 chips left – all other players cover you. The blinds are 1000/2000. The loose hi-jack opens at 5,000 and the cut-off calls.

This is a typical scenario for a ‘compulsory squeeze’ (in the live game I would normally not watch my cards here, but of course pretend). You risk 26,000 chips to win 13,000 (5,000 + 5,000 + 1,000 + 2,000). So, your opponents have to fold in about 2/3 of a time to make this turn profitable immediately (if we still calculate our post-flop equity, you only need about 50% fold equity).

Example WSOP 2004
Probably the most famous squeeze play occurred in 2004 at the Word Series of Poker at the final table:

o Greg Raymer 7,920,000
o Josh Arieh 3,890,000
o Matt Dean 3,435,000
o David Williams 3,250,000
o Glenn Hughes 2,375,000
o Dan Harrington 2,320,000
o Al Kruk 2,175,000

Josh Arieh, a very loose and aggressive player, opens up to 220,000 with K9o. Greg Raymer called with A2s and Dan Harrington increased from the button with 62o to 1.200.000. Dan Harrington, one of the old-guns with a very tight image, wins the pot and even kicks David Williams, who throws away AQ without thinking twice.

Summary:

Squeeze play can be a very efficient and profitable ‘weapon’. But always pay attention to the situation and your table image – otherwise your ‘weapon’ can backfire very easily.