So this is the standard polarity swings of the memes in poker. Early on people folded way too much in their blinds. They feared, and rightly so, that playing out of position was a big enough disadvantage to not warrant calling, even if you were getting decent odds to do so. Then in the last couple of years, it’s swung all the way to the other side where people are calling with way too much of their range. And, like nearly all topics, the truth tends to lay somewhere in between.
It’s true that people for far too long under defended their blinds. But the justification for calling in the big blind for example has swung too far. Just because you’re getting 3.5:1 or greater on a hand, doesn’t mean you should be calling. You’re not all-in, and you shouldn’t be thinking about your hand in terms of equity versus your opponent’s hand. You should be thinking about the potential EV of the spot, and what you can expect to win long term.
I’m going to use the below example from a post from someone on cardschat playing 200nl Full ring online. Here, hero is getting 3.5:1 on a call out of the big blind with 5♣ 4♣. Should he call getting these great odds? Hello no. Why though?
MP: 153.34 BB (VPIP: 33.33, PFR: 14.29, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 21)
CO: 55.9 BB (VPIP: 33.33, PFR: 19.05, 3Bet Preflop: 10.00, Hands: 21)
BTN: 110.1 BB (VPIP: 28.57, PFR: 19.05, 3Bet Preflop: 10.00, Hands: 21)
SB: 218.88 BB (VPIP: 19.05, PFR: 14.29, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 21)
Hero (BB): 105.55 BB
UTG: 195.84 BB (VPIP: 28.57, PFR: 9.52, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 21)
SB posts SB 0.5 BB, Hero posts BB 1 BB
Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has 5♣ 4♣
UTG raises to 3 BB, fold, fold, fold, SB calls 2.5 BB, Hero calls 2 BB
Flop: (9 BB, 3 players) Q♦ K♣ 9♣
SB bets 5 BB, Hero calls 5 BB, fold
Turn: (19 BB, 2 players) J♥
SB bets 11 BB, Hero raises to 24 BB, SB raises to 37 BB, Hero calls 13 BB
River: (93 BB, 2 players) 7♦
SB raises to 173.88 BB and is all-in, fold
SB wins 91.5 BB
First off, 5♣ 4♣ sucks. It won’t make the nut flush and has diminished straight draw value. It’s top pair values suck and can cause headaches by the river. Knowing this, and the fact you’re out of position versus two opponents, your thoughts should be on how can I turn this into a +EV situation. The only way that can happen is if you’re bluffing the heck out of this hand in all of the right spots, and skillfully trapping your opponents when you do hit big hands. Most importantly, it’s going to depend on the kinds of opponents you’re against when you’re trying to evaluate the EV of a situation. The question is, can I lose less than -100bb/100 in this spot?
So in this situation with only 21 hands-on our opponents, we’re working with really limited information. Is it enough to know you can make this a +EV call? Well, you have an UTG raiser. Someone who might be a little fishy looking at their VPIP/PFR. They are certainly not a good regular. But at the same time, they’ve only opened 9.5% of their range so far and they are opening UTG. So I think we can say that it’s likely they have a strong hand. Second, we have a call from the SB from someone who is likely a slightly tighter regular (19/14). So both of these ranges are pretty strong in this spot. I think you’re looking at something pretty similar to this in this spot. You’re going to be well behind, and just on equity alone we really didn’t have enough to justify a pre-flop call (it’s close).
Ace Poker Drills Poker Equity Calculator
Equity Win Tie Hand Range
21.8991% 21.6464% 0.2527% [ 5c4c ]
40.6039% 38.9875% 1.6164% [ 55+(100), AJs+(100), AQo+(100) ]
37.497% 35.7902% 1.7068% [ 22-TT(100), AJs(100), KQs(100), AQo(100) ]
Now we can answer the question, “Can we skillfully turn this hand into a bluff a heck of a lot of the time in the correct spots?”. In order to do that you need to have opponents (believe it or not), that is OK enough to fold a hand, but not skilled enough to sniff out good bluffs. Do we have that information in this spot? I don’t think so.
The reason I even post this hand for you here today is because I’m seeing a lot more of these kinds of calls out of the blinds with a lot of crazy hands, and people saying, well, I was getting 5:1. Awesome for you! You’re not playing limit poker though. You are playing no-limit, and have a lot more money behind you, and your equity versus ranges in those spots don’t matter as much if you can’t get to showdown. In limit, you can get to showdown much easier than you can in no-limit. So just make sure you’re thinking in terms of EV and not equity. Find a good defense balance, and as always… question everything! 🙂
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