Jamming Expectation Against a Frequent Button Opener 20bb deep

The effects of changes in your opponent's opening range on your optimal play from the big blind are drastic. In the last article, we talked about facing an opponent who raises 55% of buttons. Let's change that to 70%. It's only a 15% difference, but when we are dealing with thin edges in the first place, it makes a world of difference.

Here is a table of expectation for jamming 20bb deep against one 70% minraiser. We'll use the same calling range as last time: Any pair, A5o+, A3s+, KTo+, K9s+, QTs+. Again, the table uses expectation from the start of the hand as its reference point. Anything better than -1.0bb is better than folding. On this table, I have left out my recommendations for what to do, and all the shading is just based on thresholds: Green is better than 0EV, yellow is between 0EV and -1.0bb, and red is worse than -1.0bb. Let's take a look:



Now, the expectation of going all-in is better than folding with nearly any two suited cards, and lots of marginal offsuited holdings, even trash like 54o. Every time your opponent raise/folds, 10% of his stack gets shipped over to you. The more often your opponent is raise/folding, the better taking a very aggressive approach from the big blind becomes. However, consider the information presented in the last article: Lifetime, with [Q8s, Q7s, J9s, J8s, J7s, T9s, T8s, T7s, 98s, 97s, 87s] a cluster of hands like J8s, I am 0EV from the start of the hand from flatting. Presumably, your expectation from flatting J8s is even better when your opponent is playing lots of weak hands from the small blind. Given this, even though our table lists J8s as having an expectation of -0.1bb, which is 0.9bb better than folding, it may still be better to just call from the big blind.

Does that mean the same conclusion is true, and we should maintain a fairly tight 3-bet jamming range? Absolutely not. Consider hands like Q2s, Q3s, J2s, J3s, J4s, T3s, T4s and 63s. All have jamming expectations of at least 0.3bb better than folding, and all are mediocre hands that you probably toss into the muck as standard at this stack depth against this opponent because they play poorly when you just call out of position. That's a mistake. Very often these hands become 3-bets, either as all-in jams or non-all-in 3-bet bluffs.

The table becomes even more drastic when your opponent starts raising close to 100% from the button. There is a strong theoretical argument that raising 100% is not optimal in equilibrium from the small blind which is worth thinking through. If the button were to commit to raising 100% every time, it essentially means that the button is putting in 2bb before the start of the hand, the big blind is putting in 1bb, and it's the big blind's turn to act. This is very similar to considering both players just 10bb deep, with an inverted position structure. The big blind even gets to call and automatically see the flop whenever it is optimal, whereas traditionally 10bb deep, the small blind must limp in and hope the big blind does not raise. True, there are some caveats – NASH is not +EV from the small blind 10bb deep anyway, and a lot of the small blind's presumed positive expectation comes from being able to minraise or limp and play the pot in position. Talk about it with your poker friends and see what conclusions you come to: Is it possible for 100% to be the GTO minraising frequency from the small blind 20bb deep? If not, what stack depth might it become GTO, if ever?

Regardless of that tangent, jamming close to any two cards becomes better than folding over a 100% minraiser with this calling range. The expectation from jamming J8s goes all the way up to +0.5bb from the start of the hand, surely better than the expectation from flat calling. The expectation from jamming J2s is now +0.1bb from the start of the hand, which means if you fold it preflop against this opponent, you do 1.1bb worse than jamming. For comparison's sake, that's like folding J9s to a minraise readless – a massive leak. It is sometimes difficult for people to understand that not going all-in with J2s for 20bb can be a hideously bad play, but given these parameters, it absolutely is. Every time you catch yourself making a 3-bet with a marginal hand, or not making a 3-bet with a marginal hand, while not even bothering to consider your opponent's opening range, you lose money.

However, calculations in the real world are not easy. You do not always have a good sense of the percentage your opponent is opening, whether that range contains all of his strong hands, how your opponent is starting to adjust to you, what your opponent's calling range is, and all sorts of other factors. The goal of this article is not to get you to look at your HUD number for opening range and start to make mechanical decisions based on expectation tables. Some of the best HUSNG players have no idea what the expectation is of going all-in with J4s against a 70% minraiser, but rather, are very good at observing frequencies naturally and using great poker intuition to approximate expectation in-game based on more than just the raw aggregate numbers.

Understanding how your expectation from 3-betting changes against different opening ranges does not solve big blind endgame play, but it can certainly keep you from making significant errors over and over again in common situations. Do not revert to static strategies and conceptions of whether a certain hand is “good enough to play for all the chips with” at a certain stack depth. You always have to heavily take into account what your opponent is doing. That is where the vast majority of the edge comes from in super turbos.

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