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Old 11-08-2007, 03:13 AM
dark_horse dark_horse is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Default 3betting from the SB with marginal hands

in a shorthanded small stakes limit hold'em game (3-5 handed, 2/4 to 5/10), my standard line in the SB vs a very aggressive button stealer is to 3bet with my showdownable hands - 22+, A2+, K5s+, K8o+, QTo+, and sometimes cold call with playable hands without good showdown value but can count on a loose BB coming along - hands like JT, Q8s, and some suited connectors if i'm on tilt (hey, let's be honest). cold calling often slows down the button and gets you involved in a protected pot, but i'm 3betting with any showdownable hand. once i get it heads up, i will often check/call unimproved all the way to the river against the most aggressive opponents (yes, even check/call the flop), and play my better hands more aggressively. i'm basically playing 2-card bingo against these LAGs who are partially playing correctly for the situation. they love having position, so i let them do the betting for me. plus, i'd hate to get raised.

but lately i've been thinking:

when an aggressive and competent player who is too loose preflop but a decent hand reader after the flop makes an automatic steal from the button and i'm in the SB with a marginally favorite hand such as a bad ace (like a 55% favorite on average) and the BB cold calls often enough to warrant fear that a 3bet won't isolate enough to make 3betting worthwhile, maybe it's better to just fold and give up the half small bet. even if you are fairly sure you have the best hand. why? because you'll be out of position with a hand that's a marginal favorite (if it is), sometimes the pot will be multiway when you'd prefer it heads up, and when you get action you're more often behind, and when you flop your ace, you don't get action often enough when ahead. nevermind the times when the raiser has a real or dominating hand (or you run into a hand from the BB), you will often miss the flop and bet, meet resistance, or simply check/fold very bad flops. other times you are check/calling vs a very aggressive but astute button, and he is valuebetting bottom pair because he knows exactly where you're at, but other times he's bluffing and you gain a bunch of bets with your showdownable hand. in other words, you lose more when behind and gain less when ahead.

granted, my preflop equity will often be greater than anyone else's in the hand, but for the mentioned reasons here, maybe it's better to fold these marginally favorite hands before the flop more often than 3betting with them (maybe sometimes doing so to mix it up). in a 3handed game i can't see this being correct. but 4handed or greater, maybe.. i know that once UTG folds in a 4handed game, it "becomes" a 3handed game, but it still feels less correct to not be 3betting in the SB in these situations when 3handed. i guess i can't really explain why. maybe it's because i'm in the blinds that much more often 3handed.

i guess i should re-read the chapter about this in stox's book.
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