QuickFact: A Pot-Sized Steal Risks 2.5bb To Win 1.5bb, Which Means It Needs To Work 62.5% Of The Time To Be Immediately Profitable.
According to Tom Chambers book Advanced PLO Theory, you’ll find yourself in a blind vs blind spot approximately 2.5% of the time in an average online 6-max PLO game. That might not sound like very much, but think about it for a second. That’s ~25 times for every 1000 hands you play, so if you can pick up half of a big blind in each blind battle, you will add more than a buy in to your win rate for every 10,000 hands.
Evaluating the Opponent
Opponent tendencies are the most important aspect of blind play, and it’s not even close. Regardless of the poker situation, whether it is a tourney, a cash game, full-ring or heads-up, you must always adjust your line depending on who the opponent(s) is. This is exaggerated even further in blind battles, and you must approach it as if you’re playing a heads-up table.
The first step is to begin taking blind versus blind specific notes on the opponents to the left and right of you. We’ll talk more about how to take good notes in Chapter 14, but something I want to point out is how many players’ style changes dramatically in blind versus blind play. Some will play nitty, while others will open too wide and fold to three-bets. Still others will aggressively come after you when they have position. Regardless, you need to figure out how they’re approaching blind versus blind, and then take notes on it so you can use the adjustments covered in the next section correctly.
Small Blind Strategy
A good starting point for discussing blind play is understanding that a pot-sized steal risks 2.5bb to win 1.5bb, which means it needs to work 62.5% of the time to be immediately profitable. Does this mean we should open raise as much as possible, while collecting all the dead money from our opponents folding habits? Not so fast. It would be fantastic if people actually folded when you open blind vs blind, but in reality, the majority of players don’t fold very often in these situations.
As a result, our first adjustment is to play very tight. Unless you’re facing a weaker player, being OOP with a lot of money behind to play with won’t generate a ton of profit in the long run. Remember, the value in our hand must come from somewhere; whether it is skill advantage, card advantage, or positional advantage. If you don’t have position or a distinct skill edge on your opponent, then a strong hand is necessary to turn a profit.
As always, we can adjust our ranges to fit the opponent tendencies. For example, if the big blind is a nit, you can open wider because you’ll be frequently taking it down uncontested. If he is passive pre-flop, then adjust your ranges based off of his post-flop tendencies. If he’s calling too loosely pre-flop and then giving up against a c-bet, widening your range against this opponent can turn a profit because of all the dead money collected when he folds.
OOP Against LAGs
This section focuses on several different adjustments facing loose-aggressive opponents. There are mainly four ways to fight back against aggressive opponents when OOP blind vs blind.
Our first option is to simply fold more often. Profit isn’t derived from getting in marginal spots against aggressive players OOP; it comes from targeting the weaker players. Initiating a spew-fest is an easy way to induce variance and tilt. Truthfully, you’re not giving up a ton of equity by folding to a tough and aggressive player. So do yourself a favor and release your ego. Get used to surrendering the majority of hands from the worst position at the table. I promise it’s not hard to do once you get the hang of it.
The next option is to limp-call hands that play poorly in three-bet pots OOP, have some post-flop playability, but aren’t good enough to four-bet. Especially facing aggressive three-bettors, you can do it with hands like J♠J♣T♠7♦. Due to the SPR, these hands play better in single-raised pots than in three-bet pots when OOP.
When you decide to limp, the key is to avoid falling in the trap of check-folding every time you miss. To make this profitable, you must be aggressive in the form of check-raising dry flops; like paired, monotone, and high/low/low flops. If you rely solely on making a hand and getting paid, this option will definitely be -EV for you, because the money collected when you flop well won’t be enough to make up for the times you have to check-fold.
3. Four-Bet Wider
The third option is to four-bet wider against players with three-betting ranges greater than 15%. With three-betting ranges this wide, they’re surrendering a lot of dead money when they fold to c-bets. Plus, if we four-betting the right ranges, we will dominate their stack-off ranges post-flop. Moreover, four-betting OOP is effective because as the SPR lowers, the hand becomes much easier to play, especially when holding a range strength advantage.
4. Call and Check-Raise
The last option is to call the three-bet and check-raise the flop, which is probably the most difficult one to pull off. Frankly it’s my least favorite option of the four, because you’re relying on clean board textures, while having to fight an uphill battle OOP. Also, good players won’t c-bet every time they three-bet anyway. Often they’ll check back, realize their equity, and play more poker in position. Overall, when using this method, only open a mediocre hand if it hits flops hard and often enough to semi-bluff light in three-bet pots, which means you should avoid opening bad pairs, and disconnected single-suited hands.
Three Characteristics of Board Texture
What are the defining characteristics of each board texture? It’s fairly simple. Each board texture is defined by its level of suitedness, connectedness, and rank.
Suitedness denotes if the board is rainbow, two-tone, or monotone. Around 55% of flops are two-tone, 40% are rainbow, and 5% are monotone. This is why rainbow hands are significantly devalued in PLO. If 60% of all board textures are two-tone or monotone, that means we’re fighting an uphill battle when holding a rainbow hand. This is especially true in multi-way pots, and doesn’t even count for the fact rainbow hands can’t pick up (or block) backdoor flush draws either. Connectedness is the number of straights and straight draws on the board, whereas the rank takes into account how high or low the cards on the board are.