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Defending your BB vs 3xBB BTN Raise on Dry/Unconnected Board with 100 BB Stack

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  • Defending your BB vs 3xBB BTN Raise on Dry/Unconnected Board with 100 BB Stack

    I am trying work on defending my blind after reading Jonathan Little's book 'Mastering Small Stakes No-Limit Hold'em'. I feel very lost when I call a late position raise in the blinds. In the diagram below I have used a suggested calling range from Jonathan's book versus a competent late position raiser. Note pocket pairs 88+, AJs+, AQo+ and KQs are raised for value and a smattering of suited cards raised as a bluff so these are not included in the range.

    My question is: How should I play this range heads-up out of position when the flop comes very dry for example Kh 8c 2d?

    From reading the book it seems like you should generally only check-raise semi-bluff if you have enough premium hands like two pair or better as you don't really want to check-raise with top pair middle kicker (folds out hands you beat and generally called by something that beats you). If you don't raise with top pair middle kicker hands but raise with your weak back-door draws you would end up with a very unbalanced range where most of your check-raises are bluffs.

    So should you check-call? But on this kind of flop there aren't any decent draws only backdoor flush draws so check-calling those out of position doesn't feel great, but if you don't are you just check-folding too much (c60% of the time)? This board is not great for our range but it isn't massively behind a wide (c50%) button raising range when I check on Equilab.

    If you do check-call with a backdoor flush draw shown in blue below, what's the plan for the turn? Check-fold if your hand doesn't improve, check-call if you make top pair with one of the A high hands, check-raise if you improve to a draw? Or just lead out with a draw?

    Last edited by Caelallaiach; 05-14-2020, 04:29 PM.

  • #2
    great question , i would advise you to look for the solution in the homework challenges on

    i am not doing the homeworks but if you have enough time they are great

    just have a look at all the previews and then you will find BB vs LP

    in general check calling oop is almost never the best option

    the exception is when you have a marginal made (even in combo with a draw) hand and you want to keep the pot small (even on coordinated boards)

    or with marginal 8/9 draws vs an aggressive balanced opponent that puts you in very difficult spots

    or when the board is very dry

    I started a simulation with a bdfd hand (Td9d)

    even with bdsd and bdfd (the best possible bdd) snowie wants me to check call and not check raise (this is for the reasons JL mentioned in his book)

    even check folding would be better than check raising in the GTO solution where your default raise sizing should be 25% potsize if you want to raise starting with 65 BB (picture 1) !

    but say you want your default raise sizing to be bigger (for instance when you a CG player starting with bigger effective stacks , then raising has almost the same EV than calling but calling is still better !(picture 3)

    so if you dont have enough value combos on dry boards (to balance with "all" the bdd) you end up check folding a lot but this is ok

    remember you are oop (positional disadvantage) and so far you only had played a small pot

    you dont need to win every pot

    there are a lot of better spots

    so check calling with marginal made hands , bdd and nutty hands in the first place should be the natural default

    the plan for the turn .. it depends ; )

    but you can certainly say start the turn by checking always on this board example because you will not turn any nutty hands unless you turn a set but if you turn a set what is supposed to call you 2 more reasonable streets ?

    say you turn a 7d (best possible "terminator" turn) in my example ,then you have FD and oesd , what are you supposed to do ?

    yes you start by checking as mentioned above

    say villian then bets 12.75 in my example (67%) what are you supposed to do with FD and oesd (the best possible turn )?

    the solution is (if you want to be balanced) call the majority of the time (86% here) ! because you just dont have enough draws to balanced with your random nut hands !

    by the way the default raise size inmy example would be 29% potsize


    if you are deeper in my best turn example check raising is better , but only a little bit

    to make life easier check-calling your whole continuing range on turn is a robust balanced strategy , very hard to exploit

    on river you then need to be good at ranging properly : )

    hope that helps : )
    Last edited by Guido; 05-15-2020, 01:49 AM.


    • #3
      (tl;dr - defend using MDF, bet smaller if you have less bluffs, don't need a raising range if at a big range disadvantage)

      That's an incredibly broad question, but I get what you're trying to say.

      As with almost every situation in poker, the correct approach depends on our opponent.

      If our opponent is good, then we need to take a mathematical approach to defending.

      The first thing we need to do is make sure they can't simply cbet with any two cards profitably against us.

      We can work out the percentage of hands we need to defend with in order to prevent this happening, known as the 'Minimum Defence Frequency' (or MDF for short) using a simple equation:

      MDF = 1 - ( b / [b + p] )
      b = bet size
      p = pot size

      So if they bet $5 into a $10 pot:

      MDF = 1 - ( 5 / [ 5 + 10 ] )
      MDF = 0.66 or 66%

      This means that when we are constructing our defending ranges we need to be continuing with at least 66% of the hands that we arrive at the flop with. Any less than that and a good opponent can cbet us with any two cards and make a profit. This way we can make sure we are avoiding check-folding too often.

      Now, regarding the value/bluffing ratio. On the flop having 2 bluffs for every 1 value hand is the maximum that we should have. Having less is fine, and to be honest, common.

      Why do we use bigger bet sizes when there are more bluffs in our range?

      The fact that there are more bluffs in our range means our opponent is going to win more often when they call, so we need to give them worse odds to decentivise them from calling.

      Imagine in our range we have 66% nutted hands and 33% complete bluffs. Therefore, when our opponent calls they should expect to win 33% of the time.

      So how do we account for this?

      We can intentionally give them pot odds of 33%.

      If we bet bet pot, then the odds they have are 33% so if they call 33% of the time they break even against us, any more or less and we profit.

      If we have 75% nuts and 25% bluffs then villain needs to win 25% of the time and so to set them 25% odds we pet the smaller amount of 1/2 pot instead.

      As you can see, what this is means is as we have fewer bluffs in our range, we simply need to decrease our bet size.

      (This example is more applicable to the river because equities can no longer change, but the point behind the decreasing bet size is still true.)

      Running out of time so just some bullet points:

      - To get a better idea of who has the strongest range (range advantage) on a particular board, and exactly how different ranges interact with different boards, in my opinion there is no better alternative than Flopzilla
      - If we are at a large range disadvantage then often we do not need a raising range at all, as this can turn our hand very face up against good opponents
      - If the villain is weak, then we should be looking to exploit them instead of balancing. Do they rarely cbet? If so, just over-fold. That's fine. If they cbet 100% then pick out some good hands with blockers and put A LOT OF PRESSURE on them
      - Work your way through - this will really help.

      Sorry that's a bit of a read, and I may have strayed off topic...


      • Guido
        Guido commented
        Editing a comment
        sm not ab

      • LondonImp
        LondonImp commented
        Editing a comment
        Looking likely

    • #4
      Wow thanks to you both for your detailed responses, lots of good advice and things for me to think about! I have started playing again after not playing for a few years, there's a lot to learn but looking through the stuff you suggest will be a good start. Yeah I appreciate that it is quite a broad question, it's just something that comes up a lot. I never used to bother defending my blind so not used to playing OOP as the pre-flop caller!