So there is a lot to talk about here. First let’s classify 4 different groups of starting positions. I am going to use my idea of the positions here. I know that some people may have some slightly different opinions on this. But this is how I view the poker table. There are 4 general starting positions.
- Early Position (EP)
- Middle Position (MP)
- Late Position (LP)
- The Blinds
EP includes under the gun (UTG) and under the gun +1 (UTG+1). In these positions, you will have to act first before the flop and will only have position on the blinds after the flop. Due to this positional disadvantage, it is very difficult to maintain a good winrate from these positions. As we saw before, over an enormous sample at NL2, my EP winrate was the lowest of any winning position.
So as is often the case, the simplest solution is in fact the best one; you should try to limit the number of hands that you play from these positions. At about 8% of hands, the recommended range is all combinations of the following hand
Small Pairs in EP
Now I mentioned before that I think you should be entering the pot as the preflop raiser the vast majority of the time. However there are a couple exceptions which explains the small gap between VPIP and PFR. Here is one of them. At NL2 and NL5, you should limp 22-66 when you are in EP.
This just allows you to keep the pot as small as possible so that you can try and cheaply hit your set. Now I know that this flies in the face of what was discussed earlier about the importance of initiative. However there are few reasons why this situation is different than most others.
These hands don’t have a lot of value unimproved OOP. Since we are only going to flop a set in around 1 in 8.5 opportunities, the vast majority of the time we are going to be stuck OOP, vainly hoping to take it down with a cbet, on an all or nearly all overcard flop.
Furthermore, since the stacks are often deep at these limits and the players are so bad after the flop, I think it is important to see flops with these hands as often as possible. Limping keeps the size of the pot as small as possible before the flop and allows you to get in there.
However, you really shouldn’t worry about these spots too much. I have run the numbers over huge samples in HEM and I have consistently found that these hands are only very marginal winners at best from EP no matter how you play them. And so yes it is perfectly fine to just fold them as well.
I just want to add that at NL10 and higher where the players are generally more competent, and stacks are often shallower, I generally do in fact just fold with these hands preflop in EP.