How to adjust your resteal ranges versus weak opponents?

Restealing in high stakes tournaments is a relatively simple topic, you only have to estimate a few factors:

–    what is the frequency your opponent opened with

–    what is the range they would call your rejam with

–> what is your equity against that range –> what is the expected value (EV) of your resteal

–    how does this EV perform versus the EV of flatting

–    other factors like ICM, strength of field, how many players are active behind you (–> blocker effect) etc.

If you do some work with HRC and you play enough to see the tendencies of the population, you will quickly develop a decent feel on the strategies you should use. The only tricky part is comparing the EV of the resteal to the EV of the flat. You can spend weeks running simulations on this topic to form a sophisticated strategy, but if you take the following rules of thumb you can gain 90% of the relevant knowledge:

If your opponent is on the loose side, the first surprising hands you want to rejam from the big-blind instead of flatting are weak offsuit aces and high offsuit gappers (e.g. T8o, J9o, Qto, Kto).

Why? Being offsuit and gapped, these hands don’t have fantastic capacity to realize equity (especially out of position). Plus, depending on the exact situation and opponent you can fold out a ton of combinations that dominated you (e.g. you rejam J9o and your opponent is forced to fold KJ, QJ, JT). While when you run into their calling range, you will perform okay.

In fact, if your opponent is really loose you want to start adding low suited connectors and gappers as well.

You may argue that rejamming hands like J9o from the big-blind is too risky and you want to stay with small-ball, reducing variance. But if you choose your opponent carefully (being sure he opens out of line), actually these resteals can be sooo extremely profitable, with so little chance of you busting that I’m a big fan of them, even if reducing variance is one of our top priorities.

How should you adjust your resteal ranges in low stakes tournaments?

High stakes you can be very precise with your estimation on the ranges your opponent would call your all-in with. Low stakes however you can never know when someone would take a stand and call your 25bb rejam with A4o middle position vs bb 🙂 And you have to expect them to mostly call with e.g. Ato/A9o in the same spot, which can terribly hurt the strategy i described a few paragraphs earlier. So intead of applying a static strategy, you should break down their weaknesses further, in order to be able to exploit them efficiently.

In my experience there are two major factors to drive your decisions:

First: the stage of the tournament

A 20-25bb resteal in the early stages is handled like beans, really. In the early stages don’t expect anyone to make disciplined folds: they will splash around, call 20bb rejams with 65s/KTo, etc.  However in the later stages they tend to tighten up and apply more reasonable stack-off ranges.


Second: if you cover your opponent or not

You will see much looser calls from a bigger stack. I’ve made some studies and managed to prove this on big sample size for mid and high stakes tournaments as well.


How to adjust?

In the early stages of low stakes tournaments:

You should use a merged, wide, value-heavy resteal range: hands that are normally questionable to rejam/call (mainly medium Ax hands, strong offsuit broadways) should be put into the resteal range (they benefit a lot from the funny calls). Here is a perfect example: against a solid player flatting with A9o is the standard play. However the Villain was a fun player so I very much expected him to throw in some wierd calls, at the end it worked out perfectly 🙂

You should mostly flat or fold with the robust equity mid-connected hands which would require a lot of fold-equity

However when we arrive to the late stages, new opportunities arise: many of your opponents will not adjust to short stacks being behind them and keep opening very wide ranges, but they start taking rejams seriously, so the gap between their opening and stack-off ranges will be enormous –> you can often go crazy with resteals. In this example the opponent had 27% raise-first-in from early position while looked normal in all his other stats. I would never try the same move in the early stages, but was fairly confident that in that stage against that particular player the rejam would print money.

Bonus point: keep an eye on the openraise sizings!! You will meet a lot of opponents who use different openraise sizes in the same stage in the same position. In this case it’s almost always true that their 2x open is weak, you can go crazy on restealing, but their 3x-5x openraise should be left untouched as those are their monsters 🙂


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