In this video you will learn how and when to step aside from the guidelines recommended in the previous preflop lessons. You will learn what the upsides and downsides of non-standard preflop plays are, how to use them wisely and how to maximise value in the process.
Playing preflop: unconventional plays
In this video you will learn How and when you should step aside from default preflop plays what the upsides and downsides of non-standard preflop plays are, and How to maximize value by using unconventional preflop plays
By now you should know most of the default preflop plays. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and you should be able to identify them. In this lesson you will learn how and when to get creative in order to maximize value, by learning about the four concepts:
Trapping Stop and go Squeezing, and Sizing manipulation
Take a look at the following example. An early position player raises to 400, all players fold and Hero, who sits in the big blind, makes a standard repush. Suppose that Villain is a tight aggressive player and his open raising range consists of around the top 9% hands. After Hero’s repush he calls with tens plus and ace king, and folds the rest of the hands. Under these assumptions, the expected value of Hero’s repush is 1,344 chips. You’ll now see what trapping is and how it could be performed in this example.
Take a look at the same situation, but this time Hero has made a different decision. He decides just to flat call villain’s open raise, as he believes that against this particular player he can win more postflop than by repushing preflop. His plan is therefore to flat call preflop and make a check/raise all-in on the flop against villains continuation bet.
Under certain assumptions it is possible to calculate the expected value in this situation as well. If villain always makes a cbet here and calls Hero’s check/raise all-in on the flop with a second pair, an open ended straight draw, a flush draw, or better, then the chip expected value of Hero’s move – called a trap - is around 1,770 chips. This example is of course a bit simplified, but it shows the nature of this concept very well. Trapping may then be defined as a preflop call in a spot where you would normally raise for value, in order to get more chips in the middle postflop, when you expect your opponent to fold against your preflop reraise with most of his opening range.
You can also use this play in order to induce a reraise from a player yet to act. If there are aggressive opponents behind you, they might see it as a good opportunity to reraise after you flat call. In this way, you can make these kinds of opponents put lots of chips into the pot with relatively weak holdings, whereas they would fold almost always if you 3-bet.
Remember that trapping is a play that should, in general, only be used with relatively shallow effective stacks – ideally under 20 bbs. With deeper stacks, it is almost always better to reraise for value.
Stop and go
Take a look at a different example. The player in UTG open raises to 2,000, all players fold and Hero, who sits in the big blind and has a short stack, makes a repush with jack-ten suited. Suppose that Villain is a loose aggressive player and his open raising range consists of around the top 20% hands. Since his effective stack against Hero is around 7 big blinds, Villain’s plan is not to fold against a potential repush from Hero. Under these assumptions, the expected value of Hero’s repush is around minus 135 chips. You’ll now see what the stop and go is and how it could be performed in this example.
This time, Hero decides to flat call villain’s open raise, as he realises that against this particular player he has no fold equity preflop, yet he may get it postflop, if the opponent misses the flop. Therefore his plan is to flat call preflop and donk bet all-in on every flop. As in the previous example, under certain assumptions it is possible to calculate the expected value in this situation as well. If Hero donk bets all-in on every flop and Villain calls with a pair, an open ended straight draw, a gut shot, a flush draw, or better, then the chip expected value of Hero’s play – called a stop and go - is around 1,330 chips. The stop and go may then be defined as a preflop call with a short stack in a spot where you don’t have any fold equity preflop, but expect to earn chips by getting fold equity on the flop.
A squeeze is simply a 3-bet, but in a specific spot. A 3-bet is called a squeeze, when the open raise has already been called by at least one player. The biggest advantage of the squeeze is that the readily available reward is larger, as there are more chips in the pot to be stolen, and the risk does not necessarily increase. The reason why your fold equity does not drop even though there are now two or more players in the pot is twofold. Firstly, the openraiser has to think not only about your hand strength, but he must also be wary of the overcallers, since any of them could wind up with a hand that won’t fold. The reason why the open raiser has to worry about the overcallers more than you need to is because to find out if they are trapping, he needs to invest a much larger amount of chips than you do. That in turn is because calling your squeeze is typically out of the question for the open raiser, as he would often wind up in a multiway pot out of position, so he needs to 4-bet if he wants to continue with the hand. As a consequence of all of the above, your risk to reward ratio tends to be better than in the case of a simple 3-bet, so the squeeze should be executed with at least a similar frequency compared to a 3-bet against a single opponent in the same spot.
The preflop sizings advised in the previous lessons from this module are recommended as a part of a balanced strategy. Sometimes however, versus weak opponents who call too much or fold too much regardless of the sizing, there is no need to be balanced with your bet sizes. On the contrary, you should take advantage of their tendencies and play accordingly. In particular, that involves minraising from the small blind with weak hands against a very tight and straightforward opponent who doesn’t defend with marginal holdings despite having position and getting a great price. On the other end of the spectrum there are spots when you should open raise and reraise larger than recommended against calling stations with your strong hands. If you think a given opponent’s range is inelastic (that is, it depends too little on your bet sizing) and contains a lot of weak holdings he would call with, make as large a raise as possible without narrowing his calling range.
In this lesson you have learned that: You should sometimes trap in order to reduce your fold equity, or execute a stop and go in order to increase it. A squeeze is usually at least as profitable as a 3-bet against a single opponent. Against weak opponents, as an exception, it might be better to alter your bet size depending on your hand strength.