Pre-flop poker is not only the most frequent street of poker you’ll play (i.e. every single hand), it’s also the most important. By making better choices pre-flop, we make more money immediately and save ourselves from some horrible situations on later streets which we should have avoided.
The only way to spruce up your pre-flop play and ensure you avoid miserable post-flop spots brought on through bad pre-flop decisions is to study poker charts.
As BBZ says, winning poker starts with winning ranges. That’s why BBZ Poker offers you custom, solver-approved pre-flop ranges that will give you instant feedback on how to improve your strategy and your win rate.
Here are three common pre-flop mistakes that you can fix by studying BBZ’s charts.
Opening too wide from EP
If you find your stack dwindling down in tournaments despite not getting to see many flops, there’s a good chance you might open too wide from certain positions, particularly early position (EP).
Your under-the-gun (UTG) open range must be tighter than your opening ranges from other positions as you have more players behind you waiting to act. By opening too wide and folding to 3-bets at a high frequency, you open the door for your opponents to 3-bet you relentlessly.
Take a hand like Q 10 -offsuit, for example. This hand should be an open from every position past the hijack at all stack sizes larger than 15 big blinds, and that info could get drilled into your brain to the point where you’re instinctively opening with it, even when you’re in EP. However, charts show us it’s almost always a fold from EP.
With BBZ’s charts you can study your EP open ranges at all stack sizes up to 50 big blinds. Pay particular attention to those middling hands which you’d never call a 3-bet with. Those are the hands that are likely costing you money.
Playing too tight on the button
We all know that the button (BTN) is the most advantageous position at the table. By acting last we get to see what our opponents do before making our decisions, safe in the knowledge we can close the action.
For a while, popular poker strategy dictated that we should always open from the button when action folds to us in a bid to steal the blinds and antes. As time went on and the players in the blinds countered the strategy by 3-betting more to steal, button ranges tightened.
Now that poker players have access to tools like BBZ’s charts, we can find out exactly what percentage of hands we should be opening on the button from all stack sizes (and which hands to use). However, the general population of poker players still play too tight from the button and should increase the number of hands they open.
Here’s what charts tell us about RFI percentages on the button:
- 50 big blinds – 52% RFI on the BTN
- 40 big blinds – 51% RFI on the BTN
- 30 big blinds – 46% RFI on the BTN
- 25 big blinds – 43% RFI on the BTN
- 20 big blinds – 30% RFI on the BTN
- 15 big blinds – 40% RFI on the BTN
- 10 big blinds – 41% RFI on the BTN
You’ll notice the BTN RFI only dips below 40% at 20 big blinds.
Not defending enough from the big blind
It takes time and experience in order to feel comfortable playing wide ranges. This is particularly true when you’re almost always going to be out of position post-flop, and as a result, the vast majority of poker players in the micro to mid-stakes don’t defend their big blind enough, making it very profitable for aggressive players to open and steal the blinds and antes.
One look through BBZ’s charts and you might be surprised just how frequently you can defend from the big blind. Here’s the big blind’s chart versus a UTG open at 40 big blinds, for example:
And here’s the big blind’s chart versus a BTN open at 30 bigs:
Remember: defending the big blind does not simply mean calling an open. We can also defend by 3-betting (notice that K 7 and K 6 both want to 3-bet rather than call). This turns the heat up and applies pressure on our opponents. Charts show us which hands we should look to do this with at varying stack sizes, and at what frequency we should be 3-betting them.
Take a hand like K 5 -offsuit, for example. Against a cutoff 2.25x open with both players on 30 big blinds, the charts show that we should look to 3-bet this hand approximately 40% of the time and call 60% of the time. A 3-bet to 9x can fold out hands which dominate ours while making it easy for us to get away should we face a 4-bet.
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