FTR Quick Tip: Helping you plug leaks in 5 minutes or less.

Here, we take a look at a relatively common, yet seldom-discussed situation: defending the big blind when facing an open from the small blind. By using ranges and comparing equities, we come to some surprising conclusions. Don’t be a nit — learn to defend your big blind at Texas Hold’em cash game poker tables.

Discuss this video in our Poker Forum: [FTR Quick Tip 003] Defending the BB vs a SB Open Forum Thread

Full Transcript

Hey, this is Mike1013 for Flop Turn River. What I want to discuss today is defending your big blind. For some reason, whenever I’ve seen anything or read any strategy about defending your big blind, the great majority of the time it’s about defending your blind against a butt-in or a cutoff steal. Actually, I think defending against an open by the small blind is a really favorable situation and is one which is often ignored.

If you just think about it for a little bit, when the small blind opens … let’s say he opens to a standard 3x raise … you’re getting two to one odds to call. You’re going to have position for the remainder of the hand, which is very different from when the butt-in or the cutoff opens where you’re going to be out of position for the whole hand. When you’re getting two to one odds that means you only need 33 percent equity to break even if you’re going to call.

What I did was, in order to get kind of a basic starting point for what kind of ranges we should be looking to defend, I made up an opening range for the small blind when it folds to him. I decided we’re just going to give him a 35 percent range, kind of a reasonable range. Here, we can see that range there that I made up for the small blind. It’s basically broadways any ace, any pair, and a few suited connectors. Once I had that 35 percent range, I decided to see which hands had the 33 percent equity we need against that range when we’re getting two to one odds.

The answer is amazing. That’s the range there that I got. As you can see, it’s a 79 percent range that has enough equity to continue against the 35 percent range. It’s basically anything suited except seven-deuce suited and pretty much anything offsuit, except the very worst offsuit cards. That’s what you have enough equity to continue with, which is a lot. In reality, you probably don’t want to be defending something like King-deuce offsuit or ten-six off despite their having enough hot and cold equity for you to make the call simply because the post flop playability is not very good.

You might not want to be defending quite as high as 80 percent of the time, but certainly you should be defending your big blind against the small blind open well over half the time. Let’s take a look at some example hands now. Let me explain the stats that I have up here. First line: VPIP/PFR/three-bet percent, second line: c-bet, full to c-bet, and aggression percent. Our first hand here, the small blind opens into us and we have ace-four offsuit. If you look at his sizing, that’s not even 3x. It’s a big mistake to fold any ace here unless you know your opponent is the nittiest guy in the world.

This is a super standard call. Next hand, we have Jack-ten off and we’re facing a min open. We’re certainly getting the odds we need to call here, actually with almost any two cards getting three to one. Our hand’s going to play very well post-flop, especially if you look at our opponent’s tendencies. His c-bets percent is only 37 percent, so he’s going to be checking the flop to us a lot and we can either check behind or we can bet and take it down on a lot of flops here.

Next hand, King-ten offsuit; this is what they call a trouble hand, the hand that gets you into a lot of trouble. You should not play it facing a raise. In this unusually beneficial situation, you absolutely have to play it facing a raise. It’s plenty good enough getting two to one and facing a fishy player to call here. You keep yourself out of trouble by not making dumb decisions post-flop. If he pot, pot, pots it and you have third pair don’t feel obligated to call. You’re getting such a good price here that you don’t need to feel at all like you have to go to showdown every single time. Just play smart when you make second pair, top pair, get a little bit of value; otherwise, fold.

Next hand, six-four offsuit; this one is very weak. I think this is a hand you can fold. Look at our opponent’s c-betting percent. He’s going to just keep firing into us on the flop. Unless we have some really good read about what his tendencies are, I think we can let this one go.

That wraps it up. I hope you guys have learned something here and especially don’t give up your big blind when the small blind opens. You have position, you’re closing the action, you’re getting great odds. This is a very favorable situation and you should certain take advantage of it. Take care guys.