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Small Blind Strategy: First-in

How to profit from 72о

Welcome to Small Blind Strategy Guide. Here is the first article it is devoted to the spots when you are the first player to enter the pot or if you want to talk like a pro, when you are the first-in.

Wide Range

Have you ever watched poker tournaments on TV? Have you ever seen top professionals playing air hands aggressive? I guess the answer is positive. The difference between the average player and top regular is evident. The best players always know what they do and why.

For example, they can explain using marginal starters with ICM pressure. What the heck is it? ICM pressure is the influence of pay jumps on gameplay. Some players prefer to avoid risks on late stages of the tournament and you can use it to profit.

You may be surprised, but playing weak starters from SB is a correct strategy. First of all, if you have a small blind, you are almost the last to act. Secondly, if you have already invested a small blind in the pot, the price to enter the pot for you is cheaper and it makes the call more profitable.

On a small blind, one of your aims is to make the game versus you difficult. Regular players open wide from late positions. You can't just stay passive and let them steal your blinds. It is especially true when it goes about tournaments. There are two reasons for it. The first one is a short stack and the second one is ante. Simple blind stealing is a good addition to the stack.

Any two

When you are first in from small blind. You can enter the pot even with the weakest hands. Let's break down how it works.

Raise any two versus very tight players. If you have a strong hand, it would be raise for value, if marginal – bluff. The fold percentage of the nit is extremely high and it turns raising with any two into auto-profit.

If you play versus weak players, raise with good hands for value and limp with another part of your range. Even 72o is okay. You don’t need to catch a hand to win the pot. It works like this.

To win pots postflop, use donk-bets on any flop. Make a small bet out of position first and stay aggressive on turn and river. Don’t use donk-bets if the board is low and coordinated. Such kind of boards correspond well with the range of the player, who limped behind from big blind.

small blind strategy hand 1 69947

Villain stats: VPIP/PFR 40/12, Flop Fold to CB 70, WTSD% 20

High VPIP combined with low PFR means that the player likes to see flops, but plays passively. In the case of limp, he will not raise you preflop and will not raise you on the flop. His Flop Fold to CB is too high. You have no information how he reacts on donkbets, but high Flop Fold to CB usually means, that he doesn’t know how to react on aggression. He will fold if he doesn’t catch something on the flop. High WTSD% means the villain will give up in case of barreling (a series of bets on several streets).

The plan is simple. You limp, then make a small donk and keep pressure if turn and river look perspective. Luckily, in the hand above the villain gave up on the flop.

Balanced Range

You need another strategy when you play versus a regular player. The strategy should be more balanced. To make a limp versus reg, he should have a high fold to donkbet\cbet frequency and low raising versus limps percentage. If you play versus a regular player, you can't just limp any two. Now you have to fold from time to time, but your range is still wide. If you have no additional information on your villain, just fold the weakest unsuited hands

When you face a reg, you should prepare a balanced limp/call, limp/fold, limp/3-bet, limp/bluff 3-bet, raise/call and raise/fold ranges. You can build the range yourself, but let us help you.

Look, how it works. Include the strongest hands in limp/3-bet range and balance it with some bluff hands. The best candidates for bluff are low suited connectors and suited gappers. Hands like KQo and Q9s are played good postflop. Include them in raise/call range. Less playable hands (A9о, J8s, and stuff) are better for limp/call. Then comes raise/fold range. It should consist of weak hands with some equity. A good example is J8о or 85s. And the least playable hands (T6o or 72s) are better for limp/fold.

Now you have an idea of how to play from the small blind when you are first in, but it is just a small part of the jigsaw. In further articles we will discuss, how to act in limped and raised pots.

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