6 Max NL Strategy Guide – Button

The Button is the most fun and interesting position to be in. There are more opportunities to raise, 3bet, isolate, and cold call than any other position. You will play loosest on the button. Your button raising range can be very wide or very tight, it really is all about the game you are in. It is very possible to raise 50% of your hands on the button profitably. Lets get into the range:

  • ●  22+
  • ●  A8o+
  • ●  K9o
  • ●  Q9o+ (offsuit 2 gapper)
  • ●  J9o+(offsuit 1 gapper)
  • ●  98o+
  • ●  54s+
  • ●  64s+
  • ●  96s+
  • ●  T6s+
  • ●  K8s
  • ●  A2s+

This entire book is going to try to teach you how to make decisions by yourself, through detailed explanation and examples. This range is very tentative, it can be widened and tightened by as much as 15% based on your table.

Looser games:

The button is so complicated that I want to give you some very straightforward guidelines and let you come to your own conclusions as to whether or not a button raise is profitable.

Anything you would raise from MP you can open or even isolate OTB. The other hands will put you to decisions in loose games. In loose games where there are a lot of limp-calls you want to avoid things like 64s or 98o. If for the most part you can isolate the one donk who is limp-calling lean towards a K9s or a J9o.

In the event that people are loose but will limp-fold with a decent frequency you can use almost the entire range, maybe cut out 2% of hands or so, just the bottom of the range (64s- 86s, A8A9o, T6s-Q9s, 54s-76s, A2-4s, etc). If you prefer some hands and dislike others that’s fine, earlier analysis should provide examples of how certain hands are easier to play/more profitable than others in certain situations.

In the event people are limp-calling or there are frequently multi-way flops (3 or more players) you need to really cut it down, raise maybe a tight CO range and raise it bigger, it’s okay to make it 5bbs+1 for each limper, in these games people will tend not to notice or care.

Tighter Games:

These are far more interesting games in terms of button play. As the game gets tighter and there’s less limping, or people limp-fold, or play weakly you can really open up.

The most important factor when opening the button is the blinds tightness. Most TAGs (tight- aggressive player) will be very tight OOP. This means that on the button you can profitably raise just about any two suited cards, any ace, and medium offsuit cards (though, these less than anything).

The idea here is that players will just willingly give up 90% of their hands, and even if they do make it to the flop we will have position. I think for the most part tight players are going to limp strictly small pairs, suited connectors, and KQ type hands from early position. Take this into account that these types of hands are hit or miss. They will c/f the flop or try and play a big hand with these, which makes it easy on us because if we are weak we can give up our hand with ease. It lets us select when we want to play big pots with opponents. I am far more inclined to isolate a weak tight player with a marginal hand, than a loose/passive player.

Stack sizes:

Like most things as stack sizes grow so does opening range and your strategy. I just said “. I am far more inclined to isolate a weak tight player with a marginal hand, than a loose/passive player.” In the event I am deep (200BB+) this equation changes and I would Instead rather play with a loose/passive type because I know that all my two-pair+ type hands can really get paid off by these guys, and I can also cbet/extract with 1 or no pair type hands.

Same thing if you want to open into looser blinds, you can raise the entire range plus more with marginal hands because you will have position and an unlikely holding that has tremendous potential and will often be a disguised hand. As stack sizes shrink avoid 64s type hands and embrace K8s or A9o, as they are the bread and butter of the bottom of your range.

You should focus on trying to raise when a loose player limps and there are tight players to act behind you (all of these situations are talking about marginal hands, your core range should always be raised).

So lets say a 40/20/1 limps in MP, you are OTB with 57s, he has about 110BB’s, and you cover. The blinds are a nit and a 29/14 that folds BB to steal often (this is a statistic you should be using) You can profitably raise your 75s, probably 90BB+ in this situation (effective stacks). In the event that the BB plays 40% of his hands and the SB is a 20/18 tag, you should raise this hand less often.

Understand that these situations are fictional, real poker at a table online is completely different from table to table, each one unique. Just focus on every factor, for example the loose player in the BB. He makes you want to raise this hand less often, but let’s say the limp folds to 90% of cbets.That makes you more inclined to raise. Consider all these things when making your decision, and then come up with a solution (to raise or fold).

FWIW if someone folds 90% of cbets I’ll isolate them VERY loose, almost regardless of other players in the hand, unless the blinds are two loose shorties or something of this nature.

3betting:

Here your range is also the widest. You want to 3bet on the button far more than any position (go after people in position, not OOP). Here you probably want your ratio to be 3:2, so for every 3 value 3bets, you throw in two bluffs. This equation changes against more adept opponents that will really play back at you and go after you preflop or after the flop, but until an opponent shows a willingness to combat our strategy continue to exploit his weak play and keep the pressure on.

When 3betting you must first consider position. The CO is when our opponent’s range is the widest, and the position we 3bet this player the most. The second thing (but most important thing) is the % of hands this player raises. This was discussed in an earlier street, but the general idea is that the more raises this player makes the more we can 3bet. However, players that raise way too much, say a 38/26, avoid 65s and lean towards Ajo. These players will frequently see the flop with you and you want to show up with a strong pair type hand.

The third part of the equation is history. If a player keeps folding to 3bets or c/f’s every missed flop continue to pound on him. If a player is good and willing to 4b bluff or c/r a flop with a draw or complete air, avoid bluffing so much and lean towards more value 3bets.

Almost any range, ratio, principal, idea or strategy in this book can be manipulated to exploit your opponent, you just have to analyze his play and come to conclusions about how he plays. Then figure out how to exploit it (a simple example of this is someone who 3bets 80%+ of hands, here you c/r this player with air to exploit him cbetting so often with marginal holdings, thus exploiting him and making you money. It also makes you harder to play against and helps your made hands get paid off by weak holdings)

Blinds

My raising range here is tigher than most, typically 88+, AJs+, KQs, AK (not even Aqo!). You just get in a lot of bad spots when donks limp/call and have position when they are just putting you on ace king. Just check it and take down unraised pots. You hand will constantly make better pairs and you’ll win more than had you raised. Also it makes your life a lot easier playing less pots OOP.

3betting:

Vs UTG: Normally QQ+ and AK, with a very rare bluff. Sometimes I only 3b KK+ if hes a tight player like 17/14, I don’t know what people have told you but you are allowed to flat call TT-JJ, AQ, and AK vs UTG from blinds. FWIW if its a squeeze I’ll 3b more often. Ill also include JJ if its a sLAG or something like 21/19..

Vs MP: Same thing as UTG, I 3b JJ+ against the looser ones, against LAGs I’ll even throw in TT. I also will 3b AK about 100%, and AQ far more frequently as well, probably 50% depending. Also, I start to add crap like 54s and T9o.

Vs CO: TT+, AQ+, Ajs, and KQs like half of the time, the offsuit versions like 30% of the time. Again mixing in more random crap.

vs BTN: Rarely 99, TT+, AJ, KQs a lot of the time, and a bunch of junk. Remember this range is entirely a reflection of my opponent, how loose he is, and what I’m trying to accomplish. Against players that call a lot of 3bets I include KQ and AJ more often. Against players that often fold to 3b, more 75s or 98o.

Now I want to interject and add two things that were requested and that I completely neglected the first time around:

Squeezing:

A squeeze play is 3betting where there is 1 or more callers. Or when someone is isolating the a donk. The theory with both is that your line looks very strong and will yield a high success rate and profit you greatly, also that if someone is isolating a weak play he does so with a lot of hands, most of which cannot continue to a 3bet.

As you move up people will start to go apeshit when you squeeze and counteract it by throwing in a decent amount of 4bets, which is why against most opponents I tone down my 3betting frequency (because they think I squeeze alot more than I actually do), but for the most part no one below 400NL (and even a decent amount of 400NL players) know what a squeeze is or how to deal with it even if they do. Here are some don’ts about squeezing:

  1. Don’t you ever squeeze AQ or JJ or TT unless you are going to call a shove/shove over a 4bet. You are actually throwing money onto an ignited grill if you do this.
  2. Don’t squeeze if the caller(s) has like 10 big blinds. I see this all the time; people squeeze 76s and then a donk with 10-20BB calls with Ax. Again burning money.
  3. Don’t squeeze a tight UTG raiser.
  4. Don’t squeeze if your opponent is crazy and you aren’t going to commit with your hand, i.e. AJ or 99, something very marginal.
  5. Don’t squeeze 56s or A5s or T9o if you know the over caller is a donk and will over call your 3bet and give you problems. FWIW this is a huge problem OOP and a small problem IP.

6. If the PFR calls your squeeze (assuming hes some sort of TAG) he probably has 99+ KQs AQs+. Probably never AK. This means proceed cautiously on the flop, probably dont bet something like 743 unless you plan on shoving the turn. (like if you have Ax or 98s or something, don’t bet that flop unless you’re shoving the turn).

Ball till you fall

Or squeeze until he catches on. Some players are weak tight as shit and cannot help themselves. In HU people talk about opening every button as being mathematically correct until your opponent adjusts. Same thing here, or anywhere in poker, until your opponent gives you a reason not to squeeze (i.e. 4betting or calling and shoving flops) keep squeezing and cbetting. Just take his money if he wants to give it to you. This can actually be applied anywhere, so lets do another italized thing:

“Until your opponent gives you a reason to stop exploiting him, keep exploiting him. Keep squeezing until he does something about it, keep value betting until he raises, keep double barreling until he peels/raises the turn, etc. “

If your opponents are weak/tight (TAG players at 25-200NL) I would probably squeeze them in almost every situation I could with any junky type hand until, like we just talked about, they adjust. Simply because it looks so strong and it is so profitable. Really you are allowed to squeeze whatever your favorite junky hand is, small pairs, suited aces, SC’s, 98o or something, but you can do it with AJ or KQ as well.

Squeeze OOP only if your opponent is very weak and will give you tons of credit. I greatly decrease my squeezing frequency (just as an overall game plan, i put less money in OOP) being from the blinds basically.

Squeeze IP: All day long
Don’t you ever bet a squeezed pot flop unless:

  1. You are going to shove or c/r the turn.
  2. Your opponent folds a lot, so his call/shove DEF means you’re crushed.

This is sort of confusing, what I don’t want you to do is just cbet in a RR pot and be done with the hand if called when you have air. You have no idea how exploitable this is to tough opponents. It is OK to c/f a RR pot with air.

I want to segue this squeezing discussion into a 3betting discussion in general.

When you 3bet a player and get called you should know sort of what they have. Never 3bet bluff a donk OOP (a loose one, not a weak/tight one). I’m typically really tight in these situations. So lets look at what theoretically if you 3b a LAG/TAG player they could call with IP:

[22+, 76s+, ATs+, AJo+, KQo+]

Sure they could throw in random hands we can’t account for, but typically unless your opponent is making a huge play these are the only hands that will ever really show up with in their range. FWIW it is probably weighted towards 88+ AJ and KQ.

OOP is a bird of a different color. If a TAG player calls my 3b OOP early in my session or with no history I’m insta-putting him on TT+ or AQ exactly. I cbet K and Axx boards, otherwise I c/f if I have air IP. Similar to what I talked about in squeezing is really just 3betting theory in general.

Unless your opponent gives up to a bunch of 3bets you absolutely are not allowed to cbet a RR flop and c/f the turn. To be honest, your opponents will normally flat call the flop with weakish pairs or float with overs maybe. Either way when the turn comes around it is 100% perfectly ok to double barrel bluff the turn. Just think about how you play against people 3betting, also think about it logically, look at a flop cbet call range and a turn cbet call range. One is much bigger than the other.

Last thing I want to say for 3betting is:

I 3b TT-KK and the flop came Axx, what do i do!? Well, if you have a read on what your opponent can flat call with then you can adjust, but read less betting (aka bluffing) is normally the best option because too often your opponent will put you to the test and I see so many posts of players making mistakes OOP where they check KK on Axx and get run over or value stacked. Basically without history and a read you need to just bet/fold.

When you 3bet (or do anything in poker for that matter) you need to have a goal that you are trying to accomplish. Lets talk for a minute about 3betting donks vs regs.

When you 3bet a donk (assume 100bb eff, as the stacks grow this concept changes) you are simply trying to get value from you hand that HAS postflop value in a rerasied pot (I’m not going to tell you what does and doesn’t vs a donk, you guys should toy around and try and figure it out for yourself).

For this reason you 3bet certain hands, and hands that are closer (I’ll give you one example) KQo, you 3bet some of the time. Your frequencies change based on position, stacks, and exactly what type of player it is. If he’s the type that will fold to a cbet on Kxx v often, I call more often than I reraise.

Ok so now what about a regular?

When we 3bet a regular we are trying to develop an aggressive image and convey that we can have 76s and AA, leaving our opponent in a murky situation with TT or AQ. Anyway I just wanted to give you guys a push in the right direction, the rest you’ll have to figure out on your own.

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