For the intermediate strategy, open the following ranges:
UTG/HJ- 55+, AT+, KQ
CO/BTN- 22+, Ax, anything connected 65+
SB- 22+, Ax, Kx, Qx, anything suited, anything connected
I have specifically chosen hands that are designed to make the transition to LAG play as smooth as possible. Eventually, you will begin opening a range that is not static, but rather based on the composition of the table. For now, I have provided ranges that I feel open a sufficiently wide enough range while at the same time being made up of hands that have marked connectivity with a variety of flops while you learn and improve your post-flop play. In Chapter 15, I will show you how to adjust your stealing ranges based on the tendencies of the opponents seated behind you on any given hand. You will learn when to play your normal range and when it is prudent to either tighten or loosen up. For now, you are not advised to vary from the base opening ranges, no matter how playable or unplayable you think the hand is.
What If I Absolutely Cannot Open That Many Hands?
I considered going with a tighter range for the strategies provided in my charts. But I feel it would put such a dent in a player’s earnings from stealing that I decided against it. However, I have tailored the ranges to put you in the fewest possible marginal spots while still creating enough profitable situations to keep your opponents off balance.
Once you move beyond the charts, you will almost certainly be adding even more hands to your own opening range, but for now, the intermediate pre-flop chart is a good introduction to LAG play. But if you simply cannot dive right into what may appear to some to be overly loose play, feel free to use the basic ranges for a while until you feel comfortable enough to fully open up your game. Alternatively, you can just trim the suited and unsuited connectors and semi-connectors off your late position range for a time.
IstronglysuggestthatyoujustjumpinwithbothfeetandusetheopeningrangesIamproviding. The charts will show you exactly what to do, and if you want to reach your full potential, you will need to eventually transition to the loose end of tag or full-on LAG play.
Open Raise Sizing
For the strategies laid out in this book, you will be open raising anywhere from 2 big blinds to 4 big blinds in unopened pots. For now, feel free to use the strategy laid out in the basic chart as it will tell you exactly how much to raise with your opening ranges from all positions. I have chosen the sizing carefully to both maximize profit with your big hands and to provide sufficient fold equity in late position with the weaker parts of your range. The main idea is to have you playing a game that puts you in the least amount of tough spots as possible, while setting you up for much easier post-flop decisions. A good rule of thumb is that if you plan on folding to a 3-bet, you should min-raise. If you plan on committing when 3-bet, you should choose a larger opening raise size.
You do not need to worry too much about getting exploited at the micro-stakes, so varying your raise size by position and hand strength is fine for now. The majority of players will have no clue what you are doing, and an overall strategy that maximizes against loose and weak players is how my charts have been designed. Once you are able to move away from the charts, your ranges will become even looser, and a min-raise with your entire range from all positions will be necessary due to the added likelihood of your getting played back due to your more aggressive pre-flop game.
Min-raising as a short stack allows for optimum stack-to-pot ratios, causes many players to call too often out of position, gives aggressive 3-betters the maximum chance to make a mistake against you, and allows for you to correctly fold as cheaply as possible should you face a 3-bet with a marginal hand. Additionally, against stronger players you will want to give no information as to your pre-flop ranges. Having a static pre-flop opening raise size accomplishes that.
When To Vary Opening Raise Sizing
While you want to create optimal SPRs for yourself, and we know min-raising usually accomplishes that, there are still some instances where increasing your opening raise size can be beneficial. This is because getting as much money in pre-flop as you can with certain holdings and achieving an even lower SPR is sometimes preferred as long as your opponents are not catching on to what you are doing.
On tables full of regulars, you should be reluctant to change your raise size at any point, as they will likely be used to your normal min-raise. However, on tables of non-regulars, very loose players, or fish there are a few instances where you might consider a change.
If the play at the table has been loose with multiple players frequently going to the flop, I will increase my opening size with TT+ to between 2.5 and 3.5 big blinds. The sizing I choose depends on just how loose the table has been playing. If play has been particularly aggressive and there are one or more pre-flop maniacs still to act, raising to 3.5bbs or 4.0bbs are both good choices. You will also want to widen your typical value range a bit on tables like this both before and after the flop.