Monday, October 27, 2008

HU17: War of Preflop Aggression

Scribbling down a few notes based on a few heads-up matches:

_ It's suicidal to try to 3-bet a minraiser too much. The only thing it accomplishes is building a pot out of position, which isn't profitable. Against a frequent 3-bettor, minraising from the button is a perfectly viable strategy, which Krantz uses at times in DeucesCracked videos. Calling those minraises should be the default play.

_ I love it when heads-up matches turn into battles of escalating preflop aggression. To counter 3-bets you can 4-bet, and to counter 4-bets you can 5-bet all-in preflop. Because the 5-bet is the last bet to go in, the 4-bettor has to be careful to properly balance his range to avoid folding too much once the pot has already grown large.

There's also a neat downward trickling effect, where a loose 5-bettor will start to see more 4-bets for value than as bluffs and a tight 5-bettor will see more 4-bets as bluffs. If someone is 4-betting too much, some opponents may be less likely to 3-bet unless they intend to call or reraise all-in in response. These adjustments go up and down the ladder, and there are many matches where it's not too hard to find a 3-bet, 4-bet or 5-bet range that your opponent isn't properly responding to.

_ I tried an experiment where I never cold-called out of position, choosing always to either fold or 3-bet. It worked pretty well in this limited trial, although I'm not sure how well it would do as a broad strategy because I'm putting more money in out of position with some marginal hands. Playing this way avoids the annoying dilemma of 3-betting strong hands and weak hands but cold-calling with a well-defined range of hands like K9o and QTo that will check-fold when they miss the flop. I wouldn't recommend 3-betting so much against passive opponents or calling stations.

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