When I read over SSMTT I often see a lot of the same mistakes over and over. I also see a lot of mistakes I used to make a lot, and I’d like to do what I can to try and dispense some concise information that will answer a lot of the basic questions. Sometimes there are habits you make or misinformation you’re given and end up creating bad habits, so I’d like to write a series of posts/articles to address some stuff, that may seem fairly basic to some but will hopefully clear up some common misconceptions.
I’d like to start with stack sizes and their relevance.
1. 10 BB’s and under. Basically, any hand you’re playing at this stack size is a shove. This is pretty common knowledge. However, with the increase in stars antes, and the high antes tilt already has, it very often becomes correct to start open shoving in the area of 15 BB’s.
When talking about shoving ranges with antes I’ve recently been turned on to a way of adding up your stacks relative size that I really like, known as ‘true BB’. What it comes down to is that the ‘true BB’ is 2/3rds of the starting pot. So if the blinds are 500/1000 with 100 ante at a 10 handed table then the starting pot is 2500 with a true BB of 1666. So if you’re sitting on the button with a hand like A5s and 15 BB’s, you can simply open shove since you have under 10 true BB’s.
2. 14-21 BB’s. Most (but not all) of the time you have a 14-20 BB stack you shouldn’t be open raising with hands that can’t call a 3-bet. There will, in fact, be spots where because of very weak/tight players behind you that you can raise/fold this stack size, but for the most part, this kind of stack's usefulness is more for restealing all in than open raising. This is in fact an optimal-sized stack to resteal, though many players these days are very aware that this is an optimal resteal all in stack so be mindful of players who are aware of what this stack size indicates.
3. 22-30 BB’s. With this kind of stack you have more room for open raising, but for the most part restealing all in has become a bit to large in most (again, not all) circumstances. Also, when I say restealing I mean shoving hands that don’t really want calls. However, with this stack you should be restricting your open raising range a little bit more than 30+, moreso in early position. With this kind of stack though, I would still be highly aggressive in opening pots in late position as long as the players behind me aren’t huge risks to resteal. In the low 30 BB’s a go and go is very often the best option when thinking of how to play a big unpaired hand pre OOP. Say you have 32 BB’s and a villain in LP makes it 3X. If you have AQ you should be going to like 9-12X and shoving most flops, although if you really hit it hard and think villain will bet you should check shove instead.
4. 30-40 BB’s. The important part about this stack size is that a lot of people try to resteal with it pre-flop. For the most part, especially in out of position spots, 3-betting this stack intending to fold to a 4-bet shove is pretty bad. This can be done in the upper 30’s in a few spots (and I would vastly prefer to do this in position than out with this stack) but for the most part if you 3 bet a stack of 35 BB’s or less you are putting to much of your stack to justify a fold pre-flop unless villain flips up his hand and shows you that you’re 2-outing or something. At this stack size you can open raise a ton, especially if you’re playing at lower stakes where people won’t resteal on you even after the antes kick in.
5. Over 40 BB’s. At this stack you mostly have the full arsenal available to you. You can resteal with the intention of folding, you can raise pre, get 3-bet, and 4-bet hoping to cause a fold, you can flat call in position, and you can open you’re full range.
Thoughts on what your opponents know about stack sizes: Most people have a good idea that when they're 10 BB’s or under they should be open shoving anything they play. When you see someone at 8 or 9 BB’s who’s been open shoving suddenly min-raise or 3X you need to be aware that he’s got a big hand a ton of the time. A really important thing to watch in people is their understanding in stack sizes and what their shoving range is light on a short stack.
When it comes to restealing stack sizes most villains have a concept of this without actually knowing they know. Yea, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but let me put it this way; most villains know to shove a bigger range over your button raise with 15 BB’s than 25 BB’s. Even though they're bad, and they don’t understand why they're doing this, they can tell that 25 BB’s feels like too many chips. However, some villains will be totally unaware of these things and try restealing marginal hands for a huge amount of BB’s, especially out of position since playing in a reraised pot OOP is most bad players' absolute nightmare.
Also, a ton of your villains (and way more ranked p5’s than you could imagine) don’t realize how bad it is to open raise with the intention of folding at 13-20 BB’s so once you see a guy do this you realize that you can resteal off them when effective stacks are this size.
Okay, so I think that’s about it for now, I’m going to sleep fairly soon, but if you guys have any questions or want me to elaborate on certain ideas just ask and I’ll go into it all. I’ll probably write part 2 tomorrow.