Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Preflop Minigame

Preflop raising and reraising is like a minigame within the larger cash game.

In heads-up poker, this is especially true. Against some opponents, preflop decisions can be more important than postflop plays.

This game is pretty simple:

Against someone who is opening for a raise too often, you need to 3-bet them more, both as a resteal and to discourage them from being too aggressive.

Then the initial raiser has a choice about whether he wants to take this minigame to the next level with a 4-bet. Some aggressive players will do this with a wide range.

Against a crazy 4-better, the final recourse is to 5-bet all-in (assuming 100BB stacks). Hopefully you have a premium hand, but when you get to this level of raising and reraising, you'll see pros making moves even with hands like suited Qx and suited connectors. Obviously these hands have limited value beyond their bluffing potential.

The preflop game is fun because if you find an opponent who refuses to take it to the next level, you'll make a lot of money. For example, if you find someone who 3-bets frequently but always folds to a 4-bet, you're picking up a mid-sized pot without having to even see a flop. But then you can get into trouble if he 5-bets and you have to fold, usually leaving about a quarter of your 100BB stack on the table.

The counter to the frequent 5-bettor is to call his 3-bets more often rather than 4-betting. Then you can play postflop, hoping to hit your hand and looking for favorable flops to bluff at. Many times by this point, there's so much money in the middle that it's worthwhile to push all-in with a flush draw or top pair on the flop, depending on its texture and your read.

Another fun move is to start 4-betting the maniac all-in preflop, although you don't want to do this without a decent hand most of the time. I played a fun hand the other night where I 4-bet all-in preflop with JJ and got snapcalled by 88. Easy money.

One interesting facet of this preflop battle in heads-up cash games is that the out of position player has the advantage. He is the one who can choose to 3-bet and 5-bet, while the player on the button can only 2-bet and 4-bet. Of course, against a player who will only 5-bet with a premium hand, you can 4-bet more liberally, which somewhat restores your positional advantage.


SirFWALGMan said...

I fold.

kurokitty said...

Plus there is the habitual out-of-position caller minigame, as in CTS' most recent video. I like how he says to just escalate the position raise pf to see just how much someone is willing to go with their cally-cally.