Two players limp. An aggressive regular player makes it $12 to go on the button. The small blind folds. You’re in the big blind, and you have A♣4♣. What do you do?
If you folded, I wouldn’t think you were completely crazy. And calling is okay too, but I strongly recommend reraising. I’d make it $35 to go.
This reraise balances your range, and the usual reraises you make with hands like A-A and K-K. If you think it’s hard to get action with your big hands, adding reraises with A-4 suited in situations like this will increase your profitability and disguise your strategy. Your opponents may or may not start giving you more action. But it doesn’t matter to you what they do. If they give you more action, great. A-A and K-K then become big winners for you. If they don’t give you action, then you get to bluff them out of pots with A-4 suited and similar hands.
The key factor here is the aggressive player raising limpers on the button. This is likely to be a “steal raise,” made with hands as weak as 8-5 suited. When you attack raises like these with reraises, you paint your opponent into a corner. If they fold pre-flop, great. If they usually call you pre-flop, then they’re seeing flops with 8-5 suited for $35. When that’s the case, you can just bet most
flops and show an automatic profit should they fold.
Remember, however, this is a high-variance strategy, so be prepared to have it blow up in your face a few times. That’s part of the game. And part of the fun!
Three players limp. You make it $12 to go on the button with
A♣J♠. The small blind reraises to $40. The limpers fold. What should you do?
Fold. If you were the small blind, and following my pre-flop recommendations, then you could be reraising with all sorts of hands. You could have A-4 suited or K-8 suited or 3-3. Against this assortment of hands, A-J offsuit plays just fine, and you would be right to call. In fact, you might even choose to 4-bet A-J offsuit.
But that was a lot of ifs. And, quite frankly, most 1-2 players play nothing like my suggested reraising strategy from the blinds. Instead, they tend to reraise A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and maybe A-K or J-J. That’s it.
You should never assume your 1-2 opponents are playing the way I suggest. They aren’t. Not even close. That’s why you can after all beat them so badly. If they played like I suggested, you’d have less edge, and the rake would eat you alive.
Unless you know for sure that a particular 1-2 player will 3- bet with a wide range of hands from the blinds, you should assume this raise is a hand like K-K. Against hands this strong, A- J offsuit is an absolutely no-brainer fold.
Two players limp. You have K♦5♦ from two off the button.
What do you do?
Fold. The seat two off the button is in my “early position” playing range. And this hand is nowhere near the ones I suggest playing from this seat. You might feel like you’re in late-ish position, and that this is a pretty suited hand. Don’t be seduced. You generate your edge over time because you have a specific strategy that takes advantage of your opponents’ willingness to play too many hands, and their tendency to call with them post- flop.
Playing hands like this from the wrong table position is not part of the plan. It doesn’t serve your interest. Step 1 is to make sure you’re playing tighter than your opponents. Yes, all your
opponents would play this hand. They’d limp with it. Maybe one or two out of nine would even raise it.
But you’re different. You don’t do that. You will fold. This insistence on protecting tight, strong hand ranges will serve you well post-flop where, in pot after pot, your opponents are caught with weaker hands (middle pairs, weaker kickers, and more). You can always bet your good hands for value, and you can often bluff them out of pots when you miss the flop. A tighter starting range is the gift that keeps on giving.
A thought like “maybe I’ll make a king-high flush,” just ain’t how you win at this game. Hope is not a strategy. Not at 1-2, and especially not at higher stakes.
Four players limp. You make it $15 to go from one off the button with K♦Q♦. The big blind calls, and three of the four limpers
call also. This loose play is typical in your particular game, and players are also very willing to call post-flop bets. There’s $78 in the pot and you have $285 behind.
The flop comes Q♣T♣7♦. Everyone checks to you. You bet $70, and two players call. There’s $288 in the pot and $215 behind.
The turn is the 2♣. Your opponents check. What do you do?
Shove all-in. This one is very straightforward. Your opponents call too many hands pre-flop, and they react to players betting into their weak ranges by calling with too many bad hands. You take advantage of this error by betting when you hit the flop.
Yes, the flush came in on the turn. Yes, sometimes you will bet and someone will call and show you J♣5♣. That’s part of the game.
What’s also part of the game is that flushes are hard to make. Even if your opponents play every single suited hand in the deck, there are only ever 45 hands out of 1,035 possible hands (that don’t include any of the board cards or your two cards) that make a flush.
When loose players call on a flop like this, they can have flush draws. But they can also have queens, tens, sevens, and any of a bunch of different straight-draw hands from A-K to 8-6. Even getting called in two spots, it’s still more likely than not that no one holds a flush draw.
You get money in your stack by betting good hands into people who play too many hands pre-flop, and who call too much post-flop. In loose games, bet, bet, bet your top pairs.