Defending from the small blind is very similar to defending from the big blind with the obvious exception that the big blind is still left to act. This slightly complicates your flatting range, but doesn’t change your 3- betting range too much. In some higher stake games it will affect your 3- betting range, and better opponents’ 4-betting range will widen on occasion, but even this doesn’t happen very often. Overall it’s going to be a lot of the same dynamics, so we’ll focus on highlighting the differences.
Defending from the Small Blind vs Button Steals
You want to use the same kind of poker though algorithm to break down your flatting and 3-betting ranges versus opponents who are open raising on the button. The only major added factor in this situation is you need to consider your opponent in the big blind.
1. How wide is your opponent on the button opening?
a. If your opponent is opening wide (over 52%), then this should expand your flatting and 3-betting range. However, your flatting range should slightly tighten, and could tighten greatly depending on your opponent in the big blind. A range we listed for flatting in the big blind: 77+, A2s+, A9o+, K9s+, KTo+, QTs+, J9s+, QTo+, T9s, JTo, would need to tighten to: 88+, A9s+ ATo+, KTs+, QJs+, QJo+, JTs. Some hands slightly above this range can be removed in some spots, or some just below can be added when your button opponent is weak, and there’s no large threat of being squeezed from the big blind. Example, add QTs, JTo, 77, etc.
b. If your opponent is fairly tight (opening 35% or less), then you’ll need to tighten your flatting range since they’ll have reasonable hands, and you’ll be in a dominated situation more often than most opponents. Again, use the range on the previous page as a baseline, and eliminate from the bottom of that range to something like: 88+, ATs+, AJo+, KJs+, QJs+, KJo+. This way you’ll have about 60/40 equity advantage pre- flop going to the flop. Also, hands like QQ+, AK, etc., you’ll normally 3-bet, but occasionally flatting for deception can also be profitable.
2. How good is our opponent in the big blind?
a. If your opponent is a pretty good regular, then you’ll want to tighten up your flatting range, and slightly tighten your 3-betting range. You don’t have to adjust your 3-betting range too much, unless you’re playing higher small stake games against really good opponents. In general, if your opponent on the button is loose, but your opponent in the big blind is good, then you should use a similar flatting range as if your opponent opening on the button was tight. Consequently, also occasionally flatting some of your big hands can be quite lucrative against opponents that are known squeezers in the big blind. It’s a more risky line pre-flop, but can turn into some good size pots post flop if you call their squeeze with a hand like QQ+ for example.
b. If your opponent is a bad regular, or a fishy bad player, then expanding your flatting range, and providing a good price for them to call and stay in the pot can be ideal in a lot of situations. Even though you’ll be at a positional disadvantage, any reason to allow a bad player to come into the pot can be very +EV. Slightly reducing your 3-betting range because of this, and turning some of your 3-bet value hands into flatting hands can achieve this goal. So hands like AJs, AQo, KQs, etc., can be some hands you look to flat to allow your weak opponent in the big blind to call with worse hands like A2s+, KJ, etc.
3. How aggressive is the opponent on the button post flop?
a. If they are more passive (AF of 3 or less), then you can widen your flatting range a little more. You’ll have more of a chance to get to showdown, and you don’t have to be as concerned about being bluffed or blown off your hand.
b. If they are more aggressive (AF over 3), then you should tighten your flatting range, and turn some of those hands you might flat against a more passive opponent into part of your 3-betting range. If your opponent is aggressive and doesn’t like to fold pre-flop, then you should tighten both your flatting and 3- betting range.
Keep your range in the small blind polarized enough so you don’t give good players that are in your big blind incentive to re-steal against you. Keep your flatting range a little tighter in general, and look to occasionally trap by flatting some strong hands in tougher games against good opponents.