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OTB #028: Why You Should Use Asymmetric Ranges and Solutions for Studying

Preflop charts for different situations in an MTT are now fairly easy to come by.

If you want to look up what to do facing a BTN open off 30bb effective, then there's a chart or range viewer tool for that.

But what do you do when you've got 12.5bb in the BB facing a BTN open when they have 30bb and the SB also has 30bb?

Do you look at the 12.5bb symmetric charts?

Hopefully, you do not. You need to look at asymmetric charts or solutions instead.

Today I want to show you the difference and explain why asymmetric stack size solutions are more useful when studying preflop strategy.

Symmetric vs asymmetric solutions

Symmetric solutions are made with every player having the same stack size.

Asymmetric solutions, on the other hand, are made with players having different stack sizes around the table.

Let's compare two examples with 50% of the field remaining in a 250-runner tournament.

The first, using symmetric stack size solutions, assumes everyone has 12.5bb:

The risk premiums for every player, as you might expect, are the same:

In the second example, everyone has 30bb, apart from the BB who has 12.5bb:

Now the risk premiums for the 30bb stacks are higher (4.2%) against each other, but the BB's risk premium against everyone else remains the same at 1.9%:

Comparing BTN opening ranges - symmetric vs asymmetric

When everyone has 12.5bb, the BTN should play a mixed strategy when first in. They should have a polarised opening range (red colour in the chart below) which consists of hands they'll raise/call and hands they'll raise fold.

And then the other hands they want to play will jam. This is known as a condensed range (the purple colour in the chart below).

Polarised = hands at the top and bottom. Condensed = hands in the middle.

12.5bb symmetric BTN strategy (left), 30bb asymmetric BTN strategy (right)

When the BTN and SB both have 30bb, the BTN no longer wants to shove any hands, and instead opens a linear range. They don't want to jam any hands now because they're risking 30bb through the SB, but they also can't open as wide because the BB only has 12.5bb.

Knowing the difference between these two strategies is important because your response in the Big Blind will be very different.

BB vs BTN opens - symmetric vs asymmetric

When facing a polarised opening range, you have to fold more of the garbage hands.

Hands like 92s, 82s and J6o now have to hit the muck because they don't have enough equity or the ability to realise their equity postflop.

On the flip side, you should slow play a hand like AA because you block a lot of the hands that will call you if you 3-bet jam, while having a great hand to play against their entire opening range.

BB strategies facing BTN open, 12.5bb symmetric (left) and 12.5bb asymmetric (right)

Against a linear opening range you can defend a lot wider and you can jam a much more linear range as well, albeit with some "bluffs" like T8s and J8s that fall just below the BTN's offsuit opening range and can therefore get a lot of better hands to fold, while simultaneously unblocking those same hands.


If you blindly follow the 12.5bb symmetric solutions in your favourite range viewer then you will end up folding too much and not jamming the right hands.

It's always important to think about what your opponent's range looks like and the best way to respond.

Today's action tip: Load or run asymmetric stack size solutions and then study and drill the preflop strategies.

That's it for this week.

See you next Saturday!


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