Today I want to teach you 3 easy exploits you can use in your next session.
I'm going to show you what do if:
1) Your opponent doesn't 3-bet enough
2) They don't attack your limps in the SB enough when they're in the big blind
3) They don't triple barrel bluff
Whichever side of the GTO vs exploit divide you sit, your opponents are making big mistakes that you can capitalise on to make more EV.
The way we can do that is to identify what the solution looks like at equilibrium (i.e. in solver land), work out what our opponents are doing wrong and then implement a new strategy to exploit their weaknesses.
Let's dive in.
1/ Fold more vs 3-bets
Many players in low and midstakes don't 3-bet anywhere near enough and the weighting towards value hands is more than it should be.
Let's say you open 99 in EP to 2bb and the player to your immediate left 3-bets to 5.58bb.
This should already be a pretty tight range, but many weaker players will be too tight here.
They should 3-bet 5.5% of hands at equilibrium in a Chip EV world and that range is made up of hands that can call a 4-bet jam, like AKo or JJ and hands that will have to fold like A5s or AQo.
I think a lot of weaker players will just flat hands like ATs, KJs and QJs at full frequency rather than 3-bet them.
Having said that, I do think they could find the 3-bet/folds with hands like AJo, AQo and KQo though. Hands like 88 and 77 probably just call rather than 3-bet at all.
A5s might just get folded 100% of the time.
Here's what their range might look like instead:
Before I show you what the solver would do in response to this, let's look at how you should continue in solver land against a player 3-betting the 'right' range:
You can flat 99 and the lower pairs, and hands like suited broadways. You can 4-bet jam A5s almost 100% of the time and A4s sometimes too to get your opponent to fold AQo and AJo, while blocking AA and AK and having OK-ish equity against QQ-TT.
You can also 4-bet jam TT-KK and AK for value.
With AA you can flat most of the time, but 4-bet jamming is fine too.
But what if your opponent doesn't 3-bet enough?
And when they do 3-bet, they always call a 4-bet jam with their value hands, so TT+,AK in this case?
Here's the solution:
You can't 4-bet jam TT or JJ any more, and TT actually now becomes indifferent between calling and folding.
99 is a pure fold.
Lots of the suited broadways are now pure folds as well. And A5s is now indifferent between calling and folding, as are KQs, QJs, JTs and T9s.
AK (both suited and offsuit) is the real standout and is now pure calling rather than 4-bet jamming.
The strategy is completely different.
So what do you do if your opponent doesn't 3-bet enough?
You need to fold more.
You can't 4-bet jam as wide for value.
And you certainly shouldn't 4-bet jam a 'bluff' like A5s or A4s.
You can exploit them by always jamming QQ+ and not slow playing AA anymore because your opponent won't fold as frequently.
Now of course the solver solution is assuming that this fun player or weak reg is going to play perfectly postflop, despite having a poor preflop strategy. This is where the solve can fall down. To take this idea to the next level you need to work out what kind of opponent you're up against.
Are they a fun player who will blast the flop and get all in on the turn, reducing your ability to realise equity since you'll likely only see two streets before having to commit your whole stack?
Or a weak reg who will c-bet the flop frequently for a small size, but not double or triple barrel enough to make your life hard?
Against the blaster, I would avoid calling any speculative hands like suited connectors and A5s. But the pairs would be fine calls because you'll stack your opponent very frequently when you flop a set.
Against the weak reg I would continue more frequently with the pairs and the suited broadways that are folding in our new solution.
Practical tip: fold more frequently against 3-bets in low and midstakes MTTs.
2/ VPIP more from the SB
When it folds to you in the SB you get to play a lot of hands in solver land, but it's not quite any two cards. When you limp, the BB is supposed to raise roughly 40-45% of the time with a polarised range made up of value hands and bluffs.
Many weak players don't raise anywhere near this number and again are more weighted towards value hands than they should be.
In this example, it folds to you in the SB with TT and about 12.6bb. Do you limp, raise or jam?
If you limp, and the BB jams you should call. But what if you limp and the BB makes a small raise instead... are you 3-bet jamming or just calling?
This all depends how aggressively the BB is raising. And also how they're constructing their range.
Facing a SB limp, the BB is supposed to check back 55.9% of the time in this spot, raise to 3bb 31.4% of the time and jam 12.7% of the time. This means they're attacking the limp 44.1% of the time.
Notice how the raising range (in pinky/red) is polarised to hands you can raise/call at the top like AA or KQs and hands you should raise/fold at the bottom like 96o or 72o.
But what if they don't attack the SB limp anywhere near 44.1% of the time?
We should exploit them by adjusting our strategy.
Here's what our strategy looks like at equilibrium:
TT is a mix between a limp and a raise to 2.75bb. If you limp, the solver mixes between mainly 3-bet jamming when the BB raises your limp, or just calling. Calling might feel understandably unnatural at this stack depth.
But here's what we do against a big blind who is checking back too frequently:
The first thing you'll probably notice is that you play a lot more hands. Not quite any two cards, but we're only folding the absolute worst hands like 72o, 62o and 32o at full frequency now.
As the BB isn't raising enough, you have to raise your best hand (AA) more frequently to get the most value. You can't rely on them putting money in by raising.
You still want to jam your Ax hands. And the bottom of the medium pair hands like 77 and 66 now make more EV by jamming.
You can also play a lot of your offsuit Kx hands more passively now as your limp won't get punished enough.
The big takeaway though is just how many more hands you can play. You're only folding 2.9% now versus 17.7% at equilibrium. You're now limping 62.2%, raising to 2.75bb 6.4% and jamming 28.6%.
So you limp a lot more, raise a bit more and jam a bit less.
Practical tip: play close to any two cards when first in from the small blind against passive big blinds.
3/ Fold all your bluff catchers when your opponent isn't bluffing
How often have you seen a player not pull the trigger on a triple barrel bluff with a hand that had no chance of winning at showdown and you know would make a great bluff? This is the kind of player you MUST fold to on the river when they do fire the third bullet.
Observation is key.
If you're ever distracted while playing, start taking note of all hands that go to showdown. This will give you a treasure trove of information and allow you to make some impressive river folds in situations where players are so far off what the strategy looks like in solver land.
Let's say you defend the big blind with Kh6h against a CO minraise. You check call a small bet on the flop and a much bigger bet on the turn. Then you face a triple barrel for your whole stack on the river.
You believe that this player will only jam river with any Kx hand with T kicker or higher (so AK, KQ, KJ, KT) and then any hand better than that so AA, KK, 99, K4s, A4s and K9.
Against this strategy, when you're not facing any bluffs you have to fold all of your bluff catchers. K6s is a bluff catcher and the highest EV action is to fold. The only hands you can call here are trips and better, especially if we assume you either x/r K9 on the flop or lead the turn.
It doesn't matter that you block KK and K9 when you don't beat any hands villain is taking this line with.
Now this is of course an extreme example, but you will observe players like this who will c-bet with their entire range, double barrel because they're aware that they're betting the flop a lot and that you're probably floating wide, and then get to the river and have no idea what to do.
What bluffs is the CO supposed to find here? And how likely is it that your weak opponent here is finding them?
Quick note: if you don't know what your bluffs are supposed to be here then your unstudied opponents definitely won't.
To incentivise you to bluff catch more, the CO is supposed to find bluffs with hands like A3s, A2s, A5o, QT, Q8s and 87s (low pair, Ace high and nothing hands shown below).
In solver land you're supposed to call all of your Kx hands and some 9x hands like A9 are indifferent between calling and folding.
In case you were wondering, you can x/r Kh6h quite frequently on the flop and if you do just call you should be leading the board paring turn card really frequently. This means you don't actually land on the river with Kh6h very often at equilbrium.
Practical tip: Fold all your bluff catchers when your opponent isn't bluffing.
If your opponent doesn't 3-bet enough, you have to fold more and jam less.
If your opponent doesn't attack your limps enough, you should play a lot more hands first in from the small blind.
If your opponent doesn't ever triple barrel bluff on the river, you should fold all of your bluff catchers and only call with hands that can beat their value hands.
As with all exploits, you open yourself to counter-exploit.
If someone knows you always fold your bluff catchers on the river, then they should bluff a lot more. If they know you over-fold to 3-bets, they should 3-bet more frequently. And if they know you are playing 100% of hands from the small blind first in, then they should raise a lot more frequently from the big blind when you limp.
Remember, if you don't know what the solution looks like at equilibrium, you don't know where your opponents are making mistakes and your observations won't mean anything. Identify what the solution looks like at equilibrium, work out what our opponents are doing wrong and then implement a new strategy to exploit their weaknesses.
I hope you can put these exploits to use in your next session.