No Limit Texas Hold'em Short Stack Poker Strategy Part 3 – Preflop Raise Sizing with 20bb

No Limit Texas Hold'em Short Stack Poker Strategy Part 3 – Preflop Raise Sizing with 20bb

Latest Casino News 05 Dec , 2017 0

In Part 2 I discussed the some of the advantages of playing a short stack. Here we will talk about preflop raise sizing, a very important concept in short stack poker.

The most common situation preflop in texas hold'em is to have the action folded to you. And the most common action for you to take in this situation is to fold. Deciding which hands to play and how to play them in this situation is key to short stack no limit hold'em strategy, or for that matter, preflop strategy in any game.

The first thing that needs to be considered is how much to raise preflop. With full stacks it does not matter that much. Any amount between two and a half to 5 times the big blind is reasonable. A smaller raise gives you more action, which you may or may not want, and lets you play more hands since you are risking less. A larger raise gets more money in the pot with good hands and increases your equity from blind steals, but means you have to play tighter to make up for the times you are reraised and have to fold. Both have their merits.

But with short stacks there is a big difference between the two raise sizes. The main reason for this is that by raising too much, you can put yourself in many situations where you may have to call due to the size of the pot, but do not really like it and wish you had raised less. For the five big blind raise this can even apply before the flop. If you raise and are reraised all-in you will be put in a spot where you would be calling 15 to win 25 (assuming the blinds are raked), or five to three odds. To have a profitable call here after rake you need to win only about 38% of the time. With your biggest hands you have an easy call, but the fact is that unless your opponent is very tight, you probably will have to call with some of your less hands here as well. Had you raised three times the big blind instead, you would then be getting 23 to 17 odds and would have to win 43% of the time. This five percent does not seem to be a big difference, but it actually is a huge one given the sort of hands most people will play for 20bb against you preflop. Many hands like 77 or 88 are around 38-40% to win against normal ranges, and are there before easy folds in the second situation. But more important than being able to "get away" from more hands, you lose 40% fewer chips with the 3x raise the times when you are forced to lay the hand down. Just like with big stacks, with a big raise, you have to raise with fewer hands than you would like, but here the difference is magnified.

However the difference is even greater after the flop. If more than one person calls your preflop raise, then just about any raise size that is reasonable means you will be shoving or folding on the flop, but the most common situation is for one person to call. Suppose you raise 3bb and are called in one spot. The pot will be 7bb on the flop and you will have 17 bets left in your stack. If you bet 5bb, a normal sized bet in this situation, you are not necessarily obliged to the hand. If your opponent puts you all in right there, you will be getting 28 to 12 on your money to call, so you need to win 12/40 or 30% of the time. This is actually a pretty easy situation to play assuming your opponents are not too aggressive - you simply call with decent pairs and draws and fold everything else. But compare this to even a 4bb raise. Now the pot will be 9bb on the flop and you will probably have to bet 6 to 7 if you plan to bluff.

Suppose you bet 7 - now a push from your opponent means you will be getting 31 to 9 on your money. Once again the slightly larger raise has put you in a tough spot. Only needing to win 22% of the time instead of 30 means you need to call with many more hands here, because even something like an overcard and a gutshot, or overcards and a backdoor flush draw will win often enough. And you have put 11 big bets in the pot instead of 8, but you probably are not going to mention 11 / 8ths the number of folds by making these slightly larger bets. What this all means is that the larger raise preflop takes away your options. You can not raise as many hands preflop, and on the flop, you can not bluff as often because you will be priced in on a call. The 2.5 bb raise works even better for this purpose of keeping your options alive, and many of the top multi table tournament players, where 20bb stacks are common, employ this raise size.

But despite all this, the 2.5bb raise is not always superior to the 4 or even 5bb raise. The small raise is a little harder to play postflop, because you have actually to make some serious poker decisions, such as deciding whether to call or fold getting good odds with a mediocre hand, which may be tough if you are new to the game. If you are heavily outclassed after the flop, you may be better off putting in a big raise, sticking to the big hands like AK and tens or better, then just putting it in on the flop no matter what hits. ESPecially in loose / aggressive live cash games, this can be a very profitable strategy. With the small raise, you also get less money in the pot with your biggest hands, assuming your opponents will call with something similar ranges for both raise sizes. While most will fold more often to the larger raise it is not linear and on average you probably will manage to play a larger pot with a larger raise size.

The truth is that you should adjust your raise size to the conditions of the game you are playing in. In a weak tight game, where you will often take the blinds and your flop bluff will be profitable, the 2.5-3b raise should be the best. You risk less on each street, and can make better decisions on the flop knowing that your weak opponents will not make a move without a hand. But against loose aggressive players, the 4-5bb raise may be better. If your opponents are giving you lots of action, which is a mistake, you might as well stick to the biggest hands and get as much money in the pot as possible. You take away their edge by making the pot so big early that you can never fold - since their bluffs will not get you out, they have to make the best hand to win.

But what you do not want to do is adjust your raise size based on your holding. Do not, for example, raise 2.5bb with 66 and 5bb with AA. Even poor opponents catch on to this, and it is even worse for you as a short stack because you will end up all-in in a lot of pots, which both attract a lot of attention from others at the table and give everyone a chance to see your hand.

As you can see there is a lot more to short stack poker than many realize. In part 4 we will cover preflop hand selection and positional play.


Source by Brian Stubiak


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