Small Blind (SB) Defence
SB Defence (against a steal) can be tricky since you are guaranteed to be out of position when you play. Luckily there is a new trend in advanced cash game strategy that can really help: 3-bet or fold! There are two really good reasons to play this way:
SB Defence – Reasons for Not Calling
- It really sucks when you just call and get squeezed by the big blind. Your range is usually weaker when you call, so this means you almost always have to fold. You could start slowplaying some AA type hands, but poaching value from our strong hands is usually not the most profitable choice.
- More subtly, we run into problems postflop with our calling range. We’re always very capped on low boards or AK2 type boards where we never have anything close to the nuts. This can happen from the BB too, but at least there we’re getting much better odds on our call.
Building your Range
So if we never call, what does this imply about your range? It’s linear! In other words, it’s not “polarized”. There is no bluff portion of your range. You simply start with your best hands and work down as far as you feel comfortable. When I’m facing a typical min-raise on the button, I’ll 3-bet around my top 20% of hands and fold the rest.
The top of the range is obvious, but what kind of weaker hands do you choose? I really like suited cards. I will opt for suited Aces and suited connectors, even some stronger suited one gappers, before I choose QTo and K9o types.
SB Defence – When it’s OK to Call
While a good standard or default strategy is to always 3-bet, there are certainly exceptions. Here are a few of the biggest ones:
- The button is a fish, maniac or short stack. Part of how we gain an advantage over the weaker players is by having a deeper stack and lots of room for postflop play. When you 3-bet and get called, you build a bigger pot. Often there’s only one or two bets left to go in. This tends to lead the fish toward more correct play. “I has pair. I’m all-in!” Instead, just call with your weaker hands in this spot, and bump the pot up postflop when you hit.
- The big blind is a fish. If we 3-bet in this case, then we risk blocking out the fish. Since they represent a big chunk of our profits, it’s wise to keep them involved in the pot.
- The button is a reg with postflop leaks. Perhaps he has a really low continuation bet like 40%. Or maybe it’s really high like 90%, and he folds constantly to check-raises. Well, if this is the case, of course we want to exploit that. In order to do so, we need to call preflop and give him the chance to c-bet. Just make absolutely sure if you’re trying this that the big blind is not squeeze-happy
Do you play this way?
I’m curious: have you made the switch to this strategy? Is it new to you or do have a reason you still like to use a calling range? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.