by David “THE MAVEN” Chicotsky
Players raising from stealing position is such a common occurrence that we must use all options at our disposal in order to try and defend our blinds. Re-raising pre-flop is an effective way to deal with loose players that are keen on raising in position. Another way of going about it would be to call more often and try and win the pot post-flop. When I say “win the pot post-flop,” notice I didn’t say “try and hit our hand in order to win the pot.” Somewhere around 70% of the time we’re going to miss the flop with a typical hand we’re holding, so we need to be able to win the pot often enough when we do miss, to make calling pre-flop profitable. Simply put, we can’t justify passively calling out of position pre-flop if we’re not willing to turn off the passive switch post-flop.
This doesn’t mean we have to try and win every hand that we play from the blinds, though we must figure out a certain mix of instances to go after or give up on the pot. Just like with any pot, whether or not we’re isolated against a single opponent will be a major factor in deciding the best path to take in the hand. Many times when there are more players in the hand, we’re able to play more passively preflop. We’ll be getting better pot-odds, and the fact that there are more players, in essence, will help our implied odds increase as well.
If we’re in an isolated pot from the big blind, for example, we have the aggressive options of leading into the raiser on the flop (aka, a donk-bet), check-raising or calling the flop with the intention of leading out on the turn (as well as check raising further streets). It’s important to not call out of the blinds and check-fold too often when we miss. If we’re willing to make more bets on later streets, we can widen our range of playable hands on the earlier streets.
Be sure to target the players you think you’ll be able to manipulate post-flop, and also remember, it’s nice to have a plan, but be willing to change paths when new information presents itself. Also try and focus more on the boards that you can better represent. It’s easier for the original raiser to represent boards with high-cards on it like an ace. Lower and middle card type boards fall more in line with what we can get away with representing post-flop. The same thing goes for paired boards; play them strong from the blinds and you’ll pick up a bunch of pots showdown free. Don’t be timid from the blinds, and remember that you have a ton of options both pre-flop and post-flop.
David “The Maven” Chicotsky is the 2008 Online Player of the Year and a former #1 ranked online tournament poker player. He is also an experienced poker coach and can be reached at TheMavenTraining.com.