How to play poker
The topic title isn't me asking how to play.. I'm actually going to take some time and explain a few things even though with american thanksgiving I should really be on the tables right now. There's been a few questions and more than a few opinions about this and that and w/e on this board and well maybe I can clear some things up. What comes to mind at least.
About this whether or not to vary your raise size stuff, the answer is yes of course. No one size will be best for every situation you're in. You might want to vary a bit depending on position, effective stacks, who's in the blinds, who you expect to go to a flop with you, etc etc not to mention your own vpip. For instance you obv want to 3bet smaller vs short stackers (and by short stackers I do ~not~ mean monotabling fish who're playing short). You'll want to 3ball larger (and adjust your range) against weak/passive players you have position on who won't fold or 4bet because they want to see if they hit 2p+. If you're stealing from the BTN with a 3.5× open (perhaps against against nitty rakeback warriors to your left who keep the fold to any bet box checked) when 2.5 has every bit the success % then make the adjustment. None of this has anything to do with your hand so you're not giving away your cards, but hey, you can even vary your sizing based on that too until you think you might start being exploited for it.
One of the things I try to hammer home to a number of ssnl players is to focus maybe a little less on trying to play an unexploitable style and more on exploiting the players you're playing against (which obv you have to play in a potentially exploitable manner to do). This kind of shift in mindset can do wonders for one's win rate. You would not believe how many times I've seen people justify terrible calls for balance reasons or because they'd otherwise be folding too much in that spot or w/e yet they're up against someone who is just never ever bluffing there and/or it's just a really uncommon situation to begin with. I snap folded QQ earlier today to a check/raise on a QTTT6 board because there was no chance villain was bluffing. Another player was in the pot so I saw his JT at showdown but I didn't need a showdown to feel good about the fold. Exploitable to fold the 2nd nuts to a check/raise? Sure. Is this guy going to start check/raise bluffing rivers a lot against me on ABBBC boards because I folded 2 unknown cards the only other time he did it? Not likely lol.
To the guy getting owned by 2NL, much better to start off playing too tight and then loosening up after getting a feel for the game than to start off playing too loose. Regarding the question about basing your bet size on your perceived equity, the answer is no. Sizing is based on a number of things but I guess the response I'll go with is your opponents' ranges for calling/raising etc and how they change in relation to the size of your bet.
Play chip poker will help you if you're unable to consistently beat those games. If you can, then no, not really.
For LB's topic about playing too tight at a live table, playing the mentioned A5s and K5s is not guaranteed to lose you a ton of money necessarily. The worse your competition is (especially in the relatively passive dynamic of a typical 1/2 live table where the players suck albino buffalo **** for the most part) the more hands you can profitably play. That said I'm pretty sure LB is no expert so I'll reiterate what I just said above that playing a bit too tight is better than playing too loose in games like these. At least until you know what you're doing. If you're going to try and see more flops (which in itself isn't a bad idea), whether it's by limping behind in late position or via isolation raises/squeezes, then try to pick hands that play well in pots that have the number of players you expect to see and try not to overplay hands that make top pair no kicker when there's 5 other people in the hand heh. Stack depth is also pretty key in deciding which hands to play and when, as it tends to vary greatly by player as you go around the table.
What else. There's a topic I didn't click on asking if pros are easier to play against than donkeys or w/e. Yes of course they are. That's why they're pros. The higher stakes you play, the more your opponents will respect your raises. Avoiding tables with bad players will do wonders for your win rate.
3betting/4betting: Because many uNL players play poorly in 3bet pots, it's a huge edge to understand when and why to build the pot pre. There's that bugs article that I think is a couple of years old now which should help a lot in building some (more or less) unexploitable ranges for preflop betting wars. Handy stuff if you feel you're getting abused or if you're just really bad in 3bet pots. Cold 4bet bluffing is starting to become a little bit more of a thing these days but it's still pretty rare at 50NL/25NL or thereabouts. It can be remarkably effective not just because players usually have a monster when they do it but because a lot of players now are 3betting/squeezing pretty wide ranges especially in certain preflop situations but their range for getting it in is still quite tight. I would go as far as to say that many regs at these limits do not have a 5bet bluffing range whatsoever. Anyway make sure f3bet is on your HUD if it isn't already. It's remarkable how high it is for some.
BvB stuff: A number of people are getting lost in blind vs blind situations based on some of the topics here. In 100NL and 200NL games a lot of players open from the sb way too often - or rather they would be if these same players didn't also fold vs sb opens way too often. Flat calling from the bb is always an attractive idea because position in poker is pretty awesome and most players are pretty bad post flop (particularly in comparison to their preflop game). Why do I write post flop as 2 words and preflop as one? wtf. You have to love those players with a giant grand canyon-esque chasm between their 1 and 2 barrel frequencies eh. 3betting vs the sb also fun and lucrative whether or not they try flatting oop with whatever junk they were trying to steal with (they pretty much won't). Good regs will 4bet bluff in this spot though at a frequency at can be pretty tough to abuse sometimes (the 3bet does unfortunately partially mitigate your positional advantage) so know your opponent obv and allow your HUD to benefit you.
Opening from the sb at around the same frequency you do from cutoff is pretty normally. You'll do it more against some players and less against others ofc. If you're the big blind and sb likes to try and limp a lot in unopened pots (completing with some hands in opened pots isn't actually terrible and can be a cheap way for nits to inflate their stats) then take a second to have a good laugh and then make sure you're raising a wide range. That's an automatic raise against most of the fish who try it.
For how to play pocket pairs, it's the same as any other hand. You're playing range against range, and if you can win a pot without a showdown you're generally best off doing just that. A lot of people flat 3bets with them hoping to spike a set otf when they really don't have the implied odds
to do so. Try not to do that. Note with with implied odds, villain's range and their play is just as great a factor than any so called rule in regard to effective stack depth. You can also be ~too~ deep to set mine in the strictest sense of the term with baby pairs. Quad mine maybe.
A great villain profile to set mine against would be something akin to that guy in cash game hand analysis lamenting how his AA is always getting stacked by hands like T7. He probably only 4bets premium pairs (poker is tough when your opponents can reliably put you on a super narrow range), plays oop with them super deep when he probably isn't very good with deep stack play, and repeatedly gets in his entire stack as a massive dog (think Clifford) or drawing dead entirely. Be more inclined to set mine against players who are bad at poker. They're more liable to pay you either by by overvaluing a hand, bluffing off their chips drawing slim to none, or just making all kinds of mistakes trying to play post.
In 6max cash play opening every pair from UTG isn't terrible. In FR however you might want to open fold 22 to say 55 from EP. Depends on the table.