This article will help guide you through the thought-process I use when deciding which hands to defend preflop and factors to be taken into consideration when calculating equity. In this example the cut-off opens the pot with a selection of hands we believe to be about 25% we can visualise this as a hand range shown below.
Let’s say that we are playing a £1-£2 live game and the open raise has been to £7. This means we have to call £5 to win £15 when the SB folds giving us pot odds of 5/15 or 33%.
This means that we can make a profitable call with any range of equity that has over 33% right? Not quite…
Imagine a hypothetical situation where there is no post-flop betting. This would mean that the BB will see all 5 of the community cards with each card representing a portion of equity to the BB hand. The flop being equivalent to 3/5th’s the turn 4/5th’s and the river 5/5th’s (100%) of equity realised. We aren’t going to see all cards from the BB as we need to flop something to continue in the hand when the in-position player cbets/delay cbets. This is what those poker books from 2005 mean when they say ‘always play in position!’ but may have left you wondering why exactly that is the case.
So we always get to see the flop when we call so we are guaranteed over half of the equity will be realised immediately and let’s assume on average that we will at least see the turn lets chop of 10% of our implied equity to account for that.
Is there anything else you can think of that we should be accounting for when making these equity calculations?
RAKE. Usually around 5% so lets chop off another 5% of our implied equity. All this accounted for now- instead of 33% we need 48% equity to make this call.
Using equilab let’s discover the hands that have 48% against this PFR (remember to remove any hands that you decide to 3-bet pre-flop from your range) leaving you with something like this.
This is the kind of off-table work you need to do facing various open-sizes to construct your overall strategy. The hands you 3-bet and call with are completely dependant on the rake and the PFR open-size and effective stacks. How should we defend when the open raise we face is just 2x? what about 5x?
Here comes the flop!
What’s that- you can’t see your cards!? Good! That’s because we are doing theory right now, we are playing our entire range not a single hand here.
Our opponent bets near the size of the pot- that’s not good for us as we were going on the expectation that we would be seeing turns with a wide part of our range and this board does not hit our calling range very well. When an opponent bets the pot in theory we should be calling about 33% of our range (he bets £15 so we need to call £15 to win £45) but I would suggest to you that you again adjust this in-game just like we did with the preflop equities. As a rough guide I would suggest when facing a full pot bet continue with the top 25% of hands, facing for 1/2 pot continue with the top third of your range, and if they bet a 1/3rd of the pot themselves continue with around the top 50% of your range. This becomes much more important in 3-bet pots when deciding what our continuing range should be so keep this in mind.
So what about if our opponent bets smaller? We simply continue with more of our range! Our opponent goes for a 40% pot-sized bet on the flop instead so let’s continue with something between 1/3 and 1/2 of our range now leaving us with 5.43% to continue with on the flop. Note that sometimes we defend our best Ace-high hands depending on the size of the bet we face.
Great we’ve selected some hands to continue with now. Is our opponent going to bet the K♥ turn? He does and goes for a 1/3 pot sized bet, so lets continue with around half of our range this time (2.87%) and select our best hands. Unfortunately none of our flop calls connect with this turn card so it’s a good card for the preflop raiser.
Excellent we’ve reached the river to show….. K♠……. and this time he goes for a full pot-sized bet- What hands should we call with? On the river there are no more bets to face and we can use our direct pot-equity of our hands now so when he bets the full pot we should in fact call with more hands than the top 25%, I would go for something around the top 1/3rd of our hands here as our pot odds are around 33%.
Always pay attention to reads, player type, our image and table dynamics when selecting how much of our range to call with. Which hands would YOU choose? What about if the guy was really loose and crazy post-flop how would that change your calling range? How about if the villain hasn’t played a hand for 3 hours and doesn’t tip the waitress? Use all the information available to you!
Good luck on the felt!