Fixed Limit: The Big Blind

January 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

How best to handle our BB is always tricky, regardless of the format we’re playing, although some games are easier than others. In the case of a NL cash game, for example, the pre-flop raise can be big enough to make folding an easy decision, but in FL the betting cap means that subsequent pot odds are more significant in the BB. Consequently calling with non-premium hands can offer decent value. The trick in making the best of this awkward position is to be on the lookout for opportunities to turn our BB situation around to our advantage.

While I advocate getting used to folding what tend to end up as lost causes, it helps to recognise, for instance, the NL-style Button raisers so that we can try to turn the tables on them by calling and then putting them under pressure on the flop.

Incidentally we often read about ‘defending’ the blinds and so on but, from a psychological perspective, I think it’s preferable to approach this kind of situation, when faced in the BB with a pre-flop raise from the Button (and nobody else left in the hand), to see a call itself as an act of aggression. The point is not to be passive but to assume the initiative. And remember that taking such a stand costs us little.

Let’s say we are in the BB on a €0.20/0.40 short-handed FL table. It’s folded round to the Button, who seems to be have been making more than his fair share of raises, and does so again; the SB folds. The pot now stands at €0.70 (3.5 ‘small bets’), and we need to invest only one more small bet of €0.20 to see the flop. Thus we are getting odds of 3.5/1 to lock horns with the raiser. Notice that our actual starting hand is not a critical factor here, rather the attractive odds and the dynamics of the scenario.

Against this type of player – whose primary aim is to steal the blinds without a fight – we are simply looking for the kind of flop that misses even a generous raising range of starting hands, so something like 2c 5d 7h is ideal and thus ripe for the taking. As far as a Button holding such as Ac Ts is concerned, not only is this a useless flop, but of course we could have gone along for a cheap ride with anything. Apart from the fact that our random holding could well have connected here we might anyway have been calling with a better hand than AT.

As long as we have a solid table image we are in a perfect position to take the pot now with a decent sized bet, while there is also the more adventurous option of a check-raise (but remember checking offers a free card). Essentially we are using the psychology of the situation (based on what we have observed about this player thus far, as well as our perceived table image) to transform a random BB pre-flop call into a steal by – in this case – representing mediocre hole cards when the rags flop misses the raiser.

As with many things in life, this kind of play should be used selectively and not habitually, but it is the richness of poker that enables us to maximise profitable situations from the collective employment of such luxuries. As usual, experience helps, so don’t automatically call in the BB, but don’t automatically fold, either.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador



Fixed Limit: The Big Blind

May 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

How best to handle our Big Blind (BB) is always tricky, regardless of the format we’re playing, although some games are easier than others. In the case of a No Limit (NL) cash game, for example, the pre-flop raise can be big enough to make folding an easy decision, but in Fixed Limit (FL) the betting cap means that subsequent pot odds are more significant in the BB. Consequently calling with non-premium hands can offer decent value. The trick in making the best of this awkward position is to be on the lookout for opportunities to turn our BB situation around to our advantage.

While I advocate getting used to folding what tend to end up as lost causes, it helps to recognise, for instance, the NL-style Button raisers so that we can try to turn the tables on them by calling and then putting them under pressure on the flop.

Incidentally we often read about ‘defending’ the blinds and so on but, from a psychological perspective, I think it’s preferable to approach this kind of situation, when faced in the BB with a pre-flop raise from the Button (and nobody else left in the hand), to see a call itself as an act of aggression. The point is not to be passive but to assume the initiative. And remember that taking such a stand costs us little.

Let’s say we are in the BB on a €0.20/0.40 short-handed FL table. It’s folded round to the Button, who seems to be have been making more than his fair share of raises, and does so again; the SB folds. The pot now stands at €0.70 (3.5 ‘small bets’), and we need to invest only one more small bet of €0.20 to see the flop. Thus we are getting odds of 3.5/1 to lock horns with the raiser. Notice that our actual starting hand is not a critical factor here, rather the attractive odds and the dynamics of the scenario.

Against this type of player – whose primary aim is to steal the blinds without a fight – we are simply looking for the kind of flop that misses even a generous raising range of starting hands, so something like 2c, 5d, 7h is ideal and ripe for the taking. As far as a Button holding Ac, Ts is concerned, not only is this a useless flop, but of course we could have gone along for a cheap ride with anything. Apart from the fact that our random holding could well have connected here we might anyway have been calling with a better hand than AT.

As long as we have a solid table image we are in a perfect position to take the pot now with a decent sized bet, while there is also the more adventurous option of a check-raise (but remember checking offers a free card). Essentially we are using the psychology of the situation (based on what we have observed about this player thus far, as well as our perceived table image) to transform a random BB pre-flop call into a steal by – in this case – representing mediocre hole cards when the rags flop misses the raiser.

As with many things in life, this kind of play should be used selectively and not habitually, but it is the richness of poker that enables us to maximise profitable situations from the collective employment of such luxuries. As usual, experience helps, so don’t automatically call in the BB, but don’t automatically fold, either.

Good luck at the 32Red Poker tables!

AngusD


Does Stack Size Matter? (Part 2)

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

32Red's Poker School Blog

32Red's Poker School Blog

Introduction to Deep Stack Strategy (No Limit Cash Games)

Deep-stack cash game strategy is a completely different animal to short-stack play because maximum resources obviously afford us maximum flexibility. Not surprisingly, the more options that are available – and the increased situational aspect due to the game’s complexity – might well require more skill and experience, which is why many players feel uncomfortable with too much money in front of them.

However, this is certainly a fascinating part of the game and, since skill can be honed only through experience, perhaps the next time you manage to increase your stack to 200BB, for example, and if there are other deep stacks at the table, instead of leaving you could decide to give deep-stacked poker a try.

While it is true that all decisions require careful consideration regardless of stack size, with 200BB at stake it’s imperative that you think things through as well as possible. With a myriad of possibilities through the betting rounds you can’t afford to be predictable with your own play or presumptive about the opposition. When the potential winnings are high you need also to be able to read the ebb and flow of the game in order to adapt. Be aware of how other players perceive you, how this perception changes due to your actions (deliberate or otherwise), and seek to exploit this to your advantage when opportunities arise (which they will).

As far as your starting hand range is concerned, deep stacks afford you a great deal more room for manoeuvre than short (or medium) stacks. This is because implied odds mean your potential winnings in a single pot against similarly stacked players are high enough to justify bets on speculative hands (note that implied odds disappear if you’re sitting at a table full of short stacks). Consequently hands such as small pairs and ‘magic’ suited connectors become an important part of your game – you are likely to miss when the flop comes but when these hands hit the aim is to win a massive pot that more than makes up for the investment; with short stacks this approach makes no sense as the maximum reward won’t cover the accumulative costs.

Hopefully this is food for thought, and in Part 3 we will look at how we might get our hands on someone else’s big stack.

Good luck at the tables!

AngusD