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Tournament Tips: Big blind vs steal strategy

Tournament Tips: Big blind vs steal strategy

Attempting to steal the blinds from late positions is pre-flop strategy 101. You can open a wide range, particularly when the opponents behind you are playing tight, and if everyone folds your work for the hand is done. Money in the bank.

But how should we play from the big blind vs late position steals? What hands do we defend with? What hands do we 3-bet with? And what hands do we just let go of?

Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ) covered this in a recent BBZ Daily Seminar, so let’s hand it over to the man himself.

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Big blind ranges

First of all, let’s take a look at what our big blind range looks like versus cutoff and button opens at 50-big-blind effective, taken from our charts. Below is our range versus the cutoff and you’ll notice we should be defending with every single suited combo, most suited one and two-gappers, and most offsuit king-x combos.

Versus a button open our big blind range is very similar but loosens up even further. Now we can defend with like 53off and K2off, while J7off (which is a pure fold versus the cutoff) is now even 3-betting on occasion.

Cutoff and button ranges

Let’s also look at the cutoff and button’s opening ranges so you can see how they interact. Below you’ll see the cutoff’s:

And here is the button’s opening range at 50bb:

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Big blind 3-bets

The first hand example BBZ looks at in the blind blind vs steal seminar is K8. The cutoff opens to 2.2x and both players are 75-big-blinds effective.

What should he do with this hand from the big blind against a late-position open? It’s something even BBZ admits he was rusty on. “I want to see our 3-bet range here,” he says. “This is a review for me as I haven’t played in a while.”

BBZ believed that K8 was not a 3-bet in this spot. After all, it’s a pretty hand that can flop very well and it would suck to have to 3-bet fold. But he was wrong.

“Oops. I thought it would be K9suited where I start to 3-bet,” he says, as the solver shows that K8 is indeed mixing between 3-betting and calling. “This is actually pretty explicable as the cutoff open range includes offsuit nines so you do see suited eights come in all the time here,” BBZ says, showing that high suited eights resiliently even at shorter stack depths.

BBZ defends and the flop is AK9, giving him middle pair. The cutoff c-bets to a 50% sizing when checked to and the sims show that against this and smaller sizes we should be calling, even with a nine.

The turn is the 10 and when the cutoff bets 50% again BBZ lets it go.

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Big blind defends

In the second example, we’re going to look at BBZ had 92 and defends from the big blind against a 2x button open, as he should with all suited hands.

The flop comes 499 giving BBZ trips and he checks it. The button c-bets for 30%.

“What are we doing on the flop?” BBZ asks the Seminar students. “Personally I high-frequency call this [combo] and low-frequency raise this [combo].”

The reason BBZ opts to call instead of raising with this particular combo of trips is because of his weak kicker to the nine. “For me, it’s easiest to organise [my raising range] hierarchically,” he says. “I’ll raise with A9 a lot and K9 a lot, and not raise a lot with 92 and 93.”

But it turns out in this instance that it’s the opposite. A9 combos should be calling, while 92suited combos should raise 80% of the time and call 20% of the time. After all, when you have trips it’s hard for your opponent to have trips.

The 6 lands of the turn and it checks through to the 8 river. When asked, every student in the seminar believed that BBZ should bet.

“We’ve got a four-category system for organizing our river strategy,” says BBZ. “Category 1 is the nuts; Category 2 is very strong hands that aren’t the nuts but can get called by a lot of worse hands; Category 3 is bluff catchers, and Category 4 is bluffs.”

BBZ’s hand is clearly not a Category 1 hand as flushes and full houses are available, nor is it a Category 3 or 4 hand. It’s a Category 2 hand and these hands should almost always be betting, especially when you’re opponent has checked back the turn.

A small block-bet sizing doesn’t really work here as their value is going to come from clubs, which we don’t block. So BBZ opts for a two-thirds pot bet size and his opponent folds.

To learn more about playing from the big blind vs steals and every other poker situation you can imagine, sign up for the BBZ Daily Seminars today for just $150 per month.

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