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Old May 24, 2007, 7:42pm   #4
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You're clearly very thoughtful seed, you've seemingly answered a lot of your own questions. If you apply yourself you could be quite the player. A couple points.

The idea, I think, is that since other players are being agressive as they think they should, their range of hands to open is weaker than they are comforatable with. When you come over the top, you are representing a hand that has a much tighter range then they are willing to play against. You are using selective agression against players who you know are playing outside of their element.
You've hit the nail on the head. Most tournament players are aware of the need for aggression, but how they apply that concept is up to them. The tendency is for players to open with a much wider range than they are willing to call a reraise with. So you set up spots where they simply can't call your raise.

You can't over-do this though. And you have to represent your ability to fold in obvious steal spots to get a tighter image. If you didn't know any better, you might actually think I was a nit by my open-raise %. I'll fold the cutoff, button, sb, bb with regularity when I'm faced with a marginal stealing opportunity. This increases the fold equity when I actually make my plays because I've created a tight image (of course, when I run into KK and I've got 69s, that image gets a bit tarnished).

To answer your general question, it's not about fold equity, it's about risk/reward. If I'm making a play, naturally I want a lot of fold equity to lower the risk. If their call % is too high, the risk can overtake the reward. This applies to blind steals vs. resteals, as blind steals (in today's tournament environment) have a much higher risk than they did a couple years ago (more people restealing). And, specifically on stars, the reward for a blind steal isn't so great with the low ante-structure. WIth resteals, the risk is naturally increased, but the reward is massively increased (blind steal is worth 1.5 blinds plus any antes, a resteal should be about 3 times that, and a squeeze play about 6 or 7 times that).

To be successful in tournies, you need to incorporate a number of different forms of aggression and be able to apply those to different players and situations.

Of course you have blind steals, and these are just fine if used sparingly enough. You want to open-raise more when you can tell you're at a table of nits. If you can expect folds or calls (as opposed to reraises) when you open, then go ahead and do it (I'd suggest 2.5X for these situations). If you can expect resteals, only open when you're WANT someone to resteal. You can target the habitual restealers like me by raising less and calling more.

The next level of blind steals involves coming over the top of limpers. When I open, I like to open behind limpers. People are much less likely to make plays back at you when you come over limpers than if you open. The limpers may or may not call, but even if they call, you'll often take it down post-flop with a c-bet. My rule of thumb is 3X plus one for ever limper (so two limpers=5X).

Then you have resteals. You should resteal more at tables where a lot of people are opening. You want to note when you see someone opening with a marginal hand. They should be your resteal target. Now, back a couple months ago I would have advised generally pushing from the blinds when you resteal. Now I advise to raise to something like 2/3 of your stack (on an M of around 10 or 12 or so). Pushing is now being interpreted by many players and being kind of weak, whereas making committing raises tends to scare them a little ("why didn't he push?"). If the stacks are deeper, around an M of 16, bet an amount that is a hefty raise, but leaves you with enough to bet at least 2/3 of the pot by pushing the flop if he happens to call your reraise (and do push the flop, no matter what).

Next we move on to squeeze plays, which are much like resteals, but involve at least one person cold-calling the original raiser. These work nicely because the OR has to worry about what the cold-caller is going to do, and when the OR mucks, the cold-caller usually has a nitty cold call hand (Ax suited, low/mid pairs, JT/QT/QJ suited, etc). You need to start being careful about making this play though, as a lot of players are catching on to this and will widen their call/push range against this play. I see this play losing a lot of value in the next 6 months.

Finally we'll move on to some very situational, slightly more complex plays. These regard countermeasures to other people's countermeasures.

First you have the stop and go. Generally there are two versions of this, one from the blinds and one from the hijack/cutoff. Regarding from the blinds, if someone open-raises and you know you don't have enough to raise and get them to muck, a stop n go is generally a better idea. You won't do this without some sort of hand (don't do this with a suited connector), you do this from the blinds because you have something like AT/77 and are pretty sure you are best, but can't get them off their hand preflop. So instead you call and let a flop drop, then you push. If they have overs, they shouldn't be getting odds to call, if they have a mid pair and overs flop, they could easily muck.

The second and more situational of these is from the hijack/cutoff. To counter open raises, people have started to reraise hijack/cutoff opens from the cutoff/button (often making a small reraise with marginal hands). To counter this, if you suspect them of just playing back at you, you quickly call and then push all in on the flop. Again, the numbers have to be right for this. Ideally you've opened for 2.5-3X and they have reraised enough where, if you call and push the flop, your flop bet is close to a pot bet. You can see an example of this in the hand I posted a week or so back (in one of the FTOPS threads) where I make this exact play against JohnnyBax with A7s.

Finally we come down to a play that P5ers have started associating with belowabove. It's VERY situational, but it's really really strong in the right situations. Basically, you have someone open raise who you suspect is just stealing. Then, you have another player make a play at that open (and you suspect they are just playing back at the opener). Then, from either the button or one of the blinds, you make another medium raise yourself with a marginal hand. If your read is right about the restealer, you barely have to worry at all about the opener, he's gonna fold far more often then not, leaving the restealer who will muck all but the top hands.

From previous posts, I think you are willing to do this with a much bigger range then they think you could have. Not only that, but the range you use is intentionally dissimilar from their holding. Things like suited connectors and low pocket pairs. It sounds like you would rather have a couple of live cards then be dominated with a weak ace or a couple of face cards. Is this right?
If the situation is right, my range on a lot of these plays is absolutely huge. Yes, I will make plays with 67s way before I do so with KJ/A4, etc.

Regarding the 99 and the constant opener from early... Players that habitually raise from up front should be quickly identified for opening marginal hands. They can't possibly hold enough quality hands to be raising up front so much. These players are taking advantage of the still in place common misconception that you never open up front without a hand. UTG/UTG+1 are like the new cutoff for some players. Don't buy it, but only play back occasionally (or with a hand). You are definitely going with your 99, but you should't push. Depending on how much you had, I would have put in around 2/3 of my stack. Of course you're putting the rest in if you have to, but I think it's a stronger raise and will get more folds.

Wow, that got kind of lengthy.
Skeptix is correct. - MRVEGAS
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