Last week we looked at attacking the big blind in blind vs blind situations, focusing on the principles behind raising first-in and stealing. You can find that article here.
This week, we’re going to flip the coin and look at how we can defend our big blind against those small blind raises. Maybe it will help you make the money in the MILLIONS Grand Final Main Event in Barcelona this week. Maybe it will help you grab some of the $40,000,000 that's guaranteed during Powerfest VII online at partypoker. Either way, we hope you take a few pointers to improve your game.
Fighting Against the Steal
When you think of the term ‘defending’, often people will assume a passive approach. For example, simply calling the small blind’s raise requires no aggression, and would be a passive action. What about the times we have premium hands, will we just call with those? How do we construct a range that is balanced between bluffs and value hands? If we only ever call, we’re not only opening ourselves up to pressure down the streets, we also lose value from our good hands.
So, let’s look at an example range of hands that the small blind could be raising our big blind with:
Sample Small Blind RFI Range
This is just less than 50% of hands, now look at the hand matrix and think about the hands the small blind will continue with facing a raise. If we re-raise, we put the onus (and the pressure) on our opponent, they are going to have to play a bloated pot out of position, without the betting lead and now with a range disadvantage. This accomplishes a number of positive outcomes:
- We give our opponents the opportunity to make mistakes pre-flop by calling too wide.
- We can apply pressure down the streets on many board textures.
- We have position and the betting lead, allowing us to control the pot on the flop.
- Our opponent can fold meaning we immediately win the pot.
Just to name a few! For example, our opponent raises with and we re-raise. They’re not going to want to play a big pot out of position with a hand as weak as that, and if they do, we can exploit this by raising wider, but still for value. Open a hand matrix software and start taking out the hands that our opponent realistically won’t call a re-raise with, and you’ll quickly realise how important our aggression from the big blind can be.
- Pay attention to your opponent, if they never or even rarely fold to a re-raise, simply re-raise with your strongest hands and call with your weaker ones.
- Vice versa; if they fold a lot of the time then re-raise more often with more hands.
- Construct ranges using hand matrix software, against more competent opponents you will need a balanced range of bluffs and value!
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