In Part 1 we talked about the value of preflop aggression, and what stack sizes are reasonable for 3-betting all in versus openers, and 4-betting all in vs. light 3-bettors of our open. But we didn’t address what type of hands to use for this aggression. In this article we will do just that.
Let’s start with 3-betting all in vs. an opener. Obviously we will do this with all premium hands. 99+/AQ+ is only 5% of starting hands however. We might be looking for something in the neighborhood of 15% of starting hands for this move when we are leveraging fold equity over a loose or wide opener… where will the rest come from?
If we add in A9s+, AJo, KQs, and the rest of the pocket pairs, that gets us up to 10.4%:
Against an opponent who we feel will call us liberally once they’ve opened, it’s generally better to expand our “value” range. When they are raise/calling us with J8s, it’s nice to have dominating hands like QJ in the mix. So against opponents like this, we may opt to 3b jam a range that looks something like this:
Notice I’ve removed the smallest pairs, which are hands that when called will be in flip or 4-1 underdog territory. That’s perfectly fine when our shove is getting the benefit of a lot of folds, but when we expect to get called a lot it may not be as desirable. Then again, in a fast structure like a turbo, one can’t fault the play with any pocket pair too much as these hands play okay hot and cold.
Hot and cold means, they can win showdowns unimproved against an opponent who also doesn’t improve when we run out the board. Notice most of the hands above fall into this category… pairs and ace highs, some strong king highs. The hands with less unimproved showdown value will make strong 1 pair hands when they hit, often top pair/good kicker.
What about players that will raise liberally and fold to our 3-bet shove frequently? Against such players we will benefit from shoving a more polarized 3-bet range that mixes pure steals with our value hands. So here we may shove something that looks like this:
Now we are tightening a bit what we shove for value on the top end, and mixing in the rest of the pocket pairs, some of the stronger suited connectors (they will have reasonable equity when called), and some suited Ax and Kx blocker hands.
Blockers are cards we hold that remove some of the key card combinations our opponent may hold that would automatically call our shove and have us in bad shape. For example, if we have A5s, it’s a little less likely the opponent has big hands like AA/AK/AQ. Additionally, it plays reasonably well in terms of our potential to suck out should we run into a big hand like TT-KK. A5s is only a 2-1 underdog to KK… while it looks like a mismatch of monumental proportions; the A5s will win this confrontation 1 time in 3.
Before we move on to 4-betting all in, just a reminder… these are not ranges that are meant to be written in stone like some cookbook recipe, they can be adjusted as appropriate to the situation, the opponents, the stack sizes, the perceived fold equity. These are meant as food for thought, a launching point from which to build your strategy.
Now, let’s say we have opened for a raise, and an aggressive player has 3-bet us. This player has a high 3B frequency and we know that, in addition to strong hands, they will have a number of weak holdings or resteals in the mix as well. If we are only 4-bet shoving our legit monsters, that will see us folding at too high a frequency vs. the aggressive 3-bettor allowing them to exploit us and shrink out stack, never great in a fast turbo structure! So what kinds of hands outside of the premium spectrum should we look to use for our light 4-bet shoves?
When it comes to 4-bet jamming, having blockers is very relevant. Let’s say we expect our opponent to call off to our shove with TT+/AQ+:
This represents 4.68% of all starting hands. You can imagine if a player is 3-betting us with a very aggressive strategy, like say 15%, they will now be folding roughly 2/3rds of the time to our 4-bet shove!
As you can see highlighted in yellow at the bottom of the image, this is also 62 card combinations. If we were 4-bet jamming with a hand like 98s as part of our light/steal shoves, they would still be calling us with 62 card combination. What if we use A5s instead? What effect does removing one of the aces from the opponents potential holdings have?
The removal effect of using the “ace blocker” combo has reduced the calls to 51 combos, an almost 20% decrease in the number of premiums we’ll run into! And the combos our A5s doesn’t block at all, KK-TT, we will still have 33% equity against, doubling up our stack 1 time out of 3 when called. Incidentally, having an “ace blocker” does not deny the opponent from having AA or AK, just reduces the frequency. Against the above range as a whole (factoring in the dominating aces to our A5s as well), we still have over 31% equity! If an opponent is folding 2/3rds of the time to our 4b jam, giving us the blinds, antes, our raise, and their 3-bet without a fight, plus we still have over 30% chance for a full double up when called, that is a fantastic EV situation and in a fast structure of a turbo MTT, represents a smart, strategic risk to accumulate chips.
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