Opening from the small-blind

At high stakes and even at mid stakes you have to be extremely cautious when stealing from the small blind, especially with deep stacks. Building pots out of position with marginal holdings is the highway to hell. However, at the lower stakes you can still print money by making 3.3x steals from the small-blind, basically all you need is a blocker or some playability with trashy hands that profit a lot by folding out better combinations.
Against a competent big-blind you barely want to make a raise with offsuit combinations (yellow: limp, brown: raise)

But against an average lowstakes opponent you can print money by 3.3xing all your offsuit Ax, Kx combos + hands like 95s, 74s, 42s, 86o, especially in the later stages.
Note: as they fold way more than they should preflop, if they happen to call, their ranges will be much stronger than expected, so be somewhat careful with barrelling, especially on A/K high boards!

On the big-blind, facing a small-blind limp

With deep stacks my clear read on the low-stakes population is that they fold significantly more vs a 3.3x isolation than vs a 3x iso. I’m not sure why this is, maybe the extra chips displayed look scary for them, but definitely suggest hammering them with 3.3x raises with all the offsuit trash you don’t mind folding to an occasional limpraise. You can even go hyper-exploitative and go for a 3x raise for value and 3.3x raise for bluff, but as these situations occur really frequently i only suggest going this far versus very weak players. Versus regs i’d stay with 3.3x sizing, but would intentionally be bluff-heavy.
Please keep in mind: as they fold a ton of marginal hands preflop, their actual limp-call range will be somewhat stronger than expected, so proceed with caution postflop!

When your opponents have around 20bb, their limping range from sb becomes much weaker than the same limping range in the high stakes. They don’t find the right combinations to trap, they openraise or openshove almost every hand they could put in their stack preflop. As a result both jams and small isolations work very well against them, don’t show any mercy! Hands you may want to add to the iso-jam range are mid-low suited gappers like 75s: they work decent against an occasional trap + they can fold out a ton of dominationg combo from their limping range.
However when stacks are down to 10bb, things change: they start setting some traps but more importantly they don’t do the marginal openlimps they should, like J3o, 72s, 65o: if they feel a hand is not strong enough to jam 10bb they rather openfold it –> you will get much more walks than in highstakes tournaments, but when they actually limp with 10bb it’ll be a trap surprisingly often!
As a result, against 10bb limps you don’t want to jam over too light, but you want to do miniso, or 2.2x iso, followed by a 1bb cbet on the flop: try it, you’ll be surprised how often it works! :slight_smile:

Here is a pack of hands demonstrating the miniso strategy:

On the big-blind, facing an openraise

SB openraise is a stat which quickly shows you how your opponent deviates from optimum play. If you don’t have stats yet, then you probably have to assume that your opponent opens too wide, too many mediocre offsuit combos. As a result i strongly suggest to be agro and sticky: 3bet more preflop, raise/float a ton on the flop, but rarely make full stack bluffs, mostly try to construct your ranges to fold out his bluffs/airs and weak holdings. A bit too general advice, but turn raises or turn overbets are very important elements of this strategy, usually forcing small-blind to overfold right away.

Limped pots postflop:

Back in the days limped pots bvb were really, really rare, usually were a sign of someone not doing his job 🙂 Then players realized that raising relentlessly oop is not fun vs a decent opponent, so they started limping more. Big-blinds slowly learned that auto-punishing limps of a competent player can easily backfire. So first by experimenting, later proven by solvers everyone accepted limped pots to be a frequent episode of blind-vs-blind confrontations. Yet you can still see serious strategical mistakes on every level, even highstakes. I strongly suggest everyone to dig into this topic, if you do it in a smart way, you can gain a significant edge on any field.

~2 years ago i ran a number of scripts on this topic. Until you run your own sims with more precise ranges, you may find these charts useful:

20bb effective:

30bb effective:

The main conclusions: almost everyone deviates from gto, by a heavy margin, usually by putting in way too many chips from the small-blind and not floating and raising enough from the big-blind.
Cbetting too light could be an even bigger mistake when there is ICM involved.
Note: you probably want to know about the equilibrium strategy, but you probably never want to apply it as your opponents make clear mistakes you want to exploit.
If we quickly want to form a reasonable but simple strategy from the small-blind i suggest the following rules of thumb:

2 or more broadways on the flop – you can probably get away with a range 1bb bet

1broadway disconnected texture (only 1 straightdraw, e.g. K74 or T42) – you can bet some (obviously the weaker your opponent is, the more often), but you want to be careful, mainly having some direct equity like gushot, or having decent backdoors to barrel on.

No broadway or 1 broadway+connected texture (T76, T86) – unless you have some read i suggest checking your whole range as start and going from there

From the big-blind i suggest going crazy versus cbets: float beyond backdoors, and also raise like a maniac, especially on 1-broadway textures (most of the small-blinds incorrectly feel entitled to bet very wide).

Just an example: versus 1 bb cbet the flops where you should fold the most are AKJ and KQT. And guess what frequency: 30(!) percent! 70% you should be able to continue! And this is given that the SB only cbets 8% and 4% on these textures! If sb bets close to 100%, you should be extremely sticky, barely folding anything!

One funny line you want to work on in sb vs bb limped pots is checkraise flop + checkraise turn 🙂 Especially lowstakes where your opponents bet vs turn check without too much thinking. These are not strong reads, but i’d expect most of the regs and the cautious fish to overfold on the turn to this line, while some agro regs and the whales will force you to show down, so adjust your ranges accordingly! 

I only scratched the surface here. Blind vs blind is an endless topic, and preflop ranges and postflop strategy can vary dramatically based on effective stack, ICM, and the history of the two of you (BvB history is likely to build up quickly!). As you can see, almost everyone is heavily imbalanced in these spots, which makes this one of the most important topics to study! Start experimenting and drop your related hands to our Discord server! 😉

Valdemar 'Luigi' Kwaysser

13 years as professional poker player 10 years experience as poker coach. Born Hungarian, living in Valencia, Spain. 36 yo, married, happy father of two. Founder of CheckDecide