Defending from the Small Blind vs Cut-off Opens

Similar to playing from the big blind, most opponents open far fewer hands in the cut-off. Their range is still wide, but not quite as wide, so you’ll get slightly more respect from your 3-bets, but your flatting ranges need to pretty tight not only because you’re against a tighter range, but because of your opponent in the big blind. As said earlier, it’s a great squeeze situation for players in the big blinds. Most of your competent opponents are going to know this, so you need to adjust accordingly by 3- betting some of the range you’d normally flat with if you were in the big blind.

You’ll want to use the same or similar poker thought algorithms as above, and use a baseline flatting range of: 77–JJ, ATo–AQo, KJo+, KTs+, A9s–AJs, QJs, QJo. You’ll have a 57–52% equity advantage against most opponents’ opening range. Remove some of the bottom range against your tighter opponents. Sometimes 3-bet some of the higher end of this range against some opponents, and the bottom end of this range against tougher opponents (or folding).

Squeezing from the Small Blind vs Open Cut-Offs

Squeezing from the small blind versus an open cut-off is very similar to squeezing from the big blind. The only major difference is that against some better big blind players, you are more susceptible to a 4-bet re-steal. You won’t have to worry about this at micro stakes and most small stakes games.

You want to walk yourself through the exact same poker though algorithms and add one more question:

  1. How often is our opponent opening from the cut-off?
  2. How aggressive is our opponent?
  3. What are the stack sizes?
  4. Is our hand more for drawing or flopping top pair?
  5. How tricky is our opponent in the big blind? If they are capable of 4-bet bluffing, you’ll want to cut off some of your polarized 3-bet bluffing range so you won’t be squeezing quite as often with weak hands and forced to fold. In this same vein, if they are capable of 4-bet bluffing, then they’ll surely be capable of 3-bet squeezing an open cut-off and two callers with a fairly wide range. Occasionally flat with QQ+, AK, looking to trap your tricky opponent in the big blind.

Just make sure that when you are squeezing as a bluff you aren’t committing yourself against shorter stacks. If there’s a short stack in the big blind, it’s something to consider, but it’s also not likely they will have a hand worth shoving often enough unless they are a really good short stacker. Most short stackers are not.

If the cut-off and button are short though, make sure you won’t leave yourself in a spot to have to call off more money getting 2:1 on your money or better. With any Ax hands you’ll be forced to call if your opponent on the button shoves, and you are getting 2:1 on a call with a hand like A5o. Even a hand like K7o you’ll be slightly priced in to call versus a button’s likely shoving range.

Against an open cut-off with a short stack, you can get away from more hands since their shoving range will be a little tighter on average since the button is still in the hand. There will always be exceptions, but you should assume that most short stacking opponents that open in the cut-off won’t shove as wide as the button will who is closing the action.

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