Players with wide ranges can be hard to extract value from especially when they are playing from the big blind. Big blind players can have just about anything, and in online poker tournaments, this is even more apparent. Take this hand scenario and consider how you would play each spot, the separation is in the preparation if you want to crush high stakes, online poker tournaments.
Scenario: You are 9-handed playing in a $109 buy-in online poker tournament. The blinds are 60/30 and you have a stack of 4,979 chips when it folds around to you in the lojack. You virtually look down at K♣-J♦.
The Game: $109 Buy-In Online NLH Tournament
Effective Stack: 82 Big Blinds
Your Hand: K♣-J♦
While some poker players may find a fold nitty, it is not the worse play playing from the lojack. Folding is fine, but if you don’t fold you should raise on the larger size, as you don’t mind inducing folds and scooping the blinds with K♣-J♦. Execute a raise for 167, and see who comes along for the ride.
Action: You raise 167 and only the big blind calls. The flop comes J♣-5♥-4♥ and your opponent checks.
Playing The Flop With Top Pair
The Pot: 427
The Board: J♣-5♥-4♥
Effective Stack: 79 Big Blinds Effective
The first two things you should consider are what is my opponent’s range and what hands are they calling with. Your opponent can easily have a paired jack (with a worse kicker), a flush draw and even a straight draw, all potential hands you are ahead of. It is highly likely you have the best hand after the flop, while it is clear you should bet what sizing should you use?
A lot of players would assume making a small bet for a fourth of the pot would be the standard play, and while that’s definitely not a mistake, you should size up and bet 320 instead. The range of the big blind has loads of calling hands that could easily improve on later streets, charge them now while also adding value to the pot. When your opponent will not fold, cash it and put money in the pot when you know you’re ahead.
Action: You bet 320 and your opponent calls. The turn is the 8♦ and your opponent checks.
Continuing On The Turn With Top Pair
The Pot: 1,067
The Board: J♣-5♥-4♥-8♦
Effective Stack: 75 Big Blinds Effective
While the 7-6 straight got there on the turn, there are still plenty of other hands in your opponent’s range that you are ahead of. You want to continue applying pressure with a larger bet size, but not too big as you want to encourage the big blind to call with worse hands.
624 adds value to the pot while also not scaring away your opponent, if they have a paired jack with a worse kicker this is a bet they will likely call. Your opponent may even call with a paired 4 or 5, if you know they are loose and will call wide get your money in with your strong top pair.
Action: You bet 624 and your opponent calls. The river is the A♦ and your opponent checks.
An Overcard On The River
The Pot: 2,315
The Board: J♣-5♥-4♥-8♦-A♦
Effective Stack: 64 Big Blinds Effective
The river is certainly interesting, as your opponent has hands like A-4 and A-5 in their range. The ace on the river may seem scary, but that does not mean you should check! You are likely still ahead and shouldn’t worry about being behind, but one thing to consider is whether or not your opponent will call an additional bet when there are two overcards to their low pairs.
Targeting weak pairs for value, betting 579 for around 20% pot is a quality play. If your opponent calls too wide and has been doing so throughout the hand, there is a strong likelihood you can squeeze a bit more equity out of them on the river.
You bet 579 and draw an additional call from your opponent. After revealing your hand, your opponent virtually mucks their cards. Selecting proper bet sizes and pursuing max value from opponents can sometimes be difficult when you don’t have access to physical tells. Online poker forces you to consider ranges and encourages you to pay close attention even when you aren’t in the hand.
All you have on the virtual felt to go by is hand histories, but even when you don’t have a firm read on your opponent, properly assessing their range can be the deciding factor in how many chips you extract from them. Opponents will have all sorts of nonsense when playing from the big blind, but it is up to you to be properly studied in how to take advantage of that.