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OTB #31: How to Study & React to Bigger Preflop Raise Sizes


Pre-solved preflop solutions are a great starting point if your opponents use the same raise sizes as the sims, but what if they don't?


What if your opponents use 3x or even pot-sized raises preflop instead?


Today I want to walk you through some Holdem Resources Calculator solutions where the Button raises to 2bb, 3bb and 4.5bb and show you the differences in strategy for you in the Big Blind.


I also want to talk about equity realisation and why you can't just rely on the solver solution when coming up with a preflop gameplan.


Let's dive in...


It's not just in the pot odds


When the Button minraises there's 4.5bb in the middle and it's costing you 1bb to call. That means you're getting 4.5:1 pot odds, which in turn means you need to be able to realise ~18.2% equity.


When the Button makes it 3x preflop there's 5.5bb in the middle, but this time it costs you 2bb to call. That means you're now getting 5.5:2 (or 2.75:1) pot odds, which means you need to be able to realise ~26.7% equity.


When the Button raises to pot preflop there's now 7bb in the middle and this time it costs you 3.5bb to call so you're getting 7:3.5 (or 2:1) pot odds. That means you need to be able to realise ~33% equity.


Knowing the raw equity alone isn't enough to work out which hands you can profitably defend because of something called equity realisation.


Raw equity is the average percentage of the pot a hand expects to win versus your opponent’s range.


Equity realisation is the percentage of the pot a hand can expect to win based on its raw equity and things like:


  • Position

  • Skill level

  • Postflop playability

  • Effective stack size

  • Postflop bet sizes chosen by both players


By playing in position, it's easier to realise equity because you get to act after your opponent.


If you're a better player than your opponent it's generally easier to realise equity.


If you play hands that are better at realising equity then... you get the idea.


Some hands do better than others at realising equity


Here are the hands with the best postflop equity realisation at 30bb facing a minraise preflop BB vs BTN:



And here are the hands that do the worst job at realising equity postflop:



To summarise:


  • Suited hands > unsuited hands

  • Connected hands > unconnected hands


Comparing BB defence vs 2bb, 3bb and 4.5bb



Not only do you have to fold more against the bigger raise sizes, you're also up against a tighter range. The solver recognises that if it's going to use a bigger raise size preflop, it has to open fewer hands.


vs 2bb (49.5%)



Facing a 2bb raise from a 49.5% opening range, you get to defend a lot of hands by calling in the big blind and only folding 11.9% of the time.


You get to 3-bet a somewhat polarised range and then jam some pairs (22-99), some offsuit Ax and of course the obligatory K7 sometimes.


vs 3bb (38.1%)



Facing a 3bb raise size from a 38.1% opening range, you have to fold a lot more, which includes some suited hands like 92s and 83s and a lot of the offsuit hands like K2o and Q2o that called against a minraise.


You also call less, 3-bet less and jam more.

vs 4.5bb (29.2%)



Facing a 4.5bb raise size from a 29.2% opening range, you fold a huge amount more, which includes a lot of the suited hands that called against a 2bb raise.


Suited connectors and suited Ax look good, mainly because of their better ability at realising equity.


There is now no 3-bet option since the preflop raise size is so big that a 3-bet to 3.75x (16.875bb) puts over half of your stack in the middle, thus reaching a threshold for just jamming.


Problems with using a solver to explore this spot


While running a toy game simulation like this in Holdem Resources Calculator can show you how your BB defence strategy changes against different preflop raise sizes, it also assumes that your opponent will open a tighter range, respond to a 3-bet and jam like the solver and also play perfectly postflop.


A solver is a great tool to use to see the differences, but you still need to think about how well both you and the hand you're holding will do at realising equity against your particular opponent.


 

This week's action tip: run preflop solutions for different raise sizes and edit the opening ranges for different player types to see how the responses change.

 

Summary


When you face a bigger preflop raise size you have to fold more, call less, 3-bet less and jam more.


You fold more and call less because you're getting worse odds and you're up against a tighter range. Many of the hands that play poorly out of position should now just hit the muck and you should focus more on hands that do better at realising equity.


Also, when defending the big blind in a tournament, you not only need to think about equity and equity realisation, you also need to factor in risk premium as well.


But we'll have to save that for another day.


That's it for this week.


See you next Saturday.


 

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