re: Poker & Pros opening 2-2.3x BB
I think there are a few different factors contributing to this, and I would definitely agree that most good players are opening smaller now.
*most players including pros and fish and everyone in between still seem to open 3.0-4.0 in the early stages when everyone is deep stacked.
This is because relative to stack depth there is still plenty of maneuverability to have lots of options by the river. Also, in early play 2.2x raises would probably result in seeing many flops 6 ways and most players with any kind of a hand would prefer to "thin the field" at least somewhat. The best 2 card hand preflop is unlikely to remain such when 6 people see a flop and even less so when 3 people see a river....
*as stacks get shallower relative to the blinds, (and antes are introduced) it gets really tough to play post flop when pots are "big"
. meaning if avg stack is 25bb and you raise 3.0bb preflop and get 1 caller (not in the blinds) the pot is now 8.5bb (with antes) and each player has about 22bb behind. Now, a Cbet costs about 5bb and if it gets called the pot contains 18.5bb going to the turn and each player has about 17bb left behind. Now before any turn action we have a stack to pot ratio of less than 1. This reduces maneuverability and therefore increases risk and variance. Most pros would prefer to maintain maneuverability and reduce risk and variance...so they opt for a smaller preflop bet. Since all bets grow exponentially in NLHE this will often result in the entire pot being smaller. Or in other words...the pro is attempting to spread his risk of busting over as many hands as possible and relying on his superior post flop skill to be able to make chips and avoid tricky spots.
*your bets should all have a function and purpose.
Most players who approach their bet size this way will look at it in terms of risk/reward ratio. Since most of the time "good" players are not waiting for a premium hand to raise with they are simply trying to find the smallest risk (price) that results in the highest reward (likelihood of taking down the blinds and antes, or playing a HU pot in position). I have found in tourney poker that as antes are introduced usually small bets of 2.0-2.5x are just as likely to result in a HU pot as larger bets. This is counterintuitive as the blinds should be more willing to defend getting better odds
....but until the masses adjust, and keep folding their blinds with good odds.....players should continue raising small as long as it works.
*why doesn't this phenomenon seem to extend to online play?
I think that in the early stages of online play there are enough "bad" players who simply don't think about the exponential nature of bet sizing; plus there are the "preset" buttons that usually are something like "min click" "3.0" and "all-in". most players in the early stages (including good players) don't want to take the time to calculate what 2.2 is and then type it in...it's much easier to just click a pre-set button. also, in the early stages all the players are more likely to be multitabling and paying less attention to that specific table. as the tourney runs deep remaining players are more likely to be paying more attention or sole attention to the tourney they're doing well in. Now they have time to type in their preferred bet amount, now they have time to observe their table and see "what is the lowest amount I can bet and win the blinds?".
*contrast the above to Live tourneys:
When you're live everyone is single tabling. So everyone has time to observe this, and there are no "preset" buttons. Add to the fact that minimizing your risk is slightly more important in live tourneys since you have overhead expenses (travel, lodging, parking, dining) and since you can't just bust and fire up a new tourney 5 minutes later. Protecting your tourney life is simply worth "more" in live tourneys. that's before you factor in the stakes. most live tourneys are not cheaper than $100 and most online tourneys are a fraction of that price. people are simply less motivated to protect a $10 investment than a $100 or $1,000 investment....
I raise 3.0 in the first level and sometimes the 2nd level. I lower it to 2.75 or 2.5 in the next 2 levels and once the antes are kicked in I never raise more than 2.5x as the opener. *exception is when I feel I am outclassed at my table
I'll try to play higher variance lines with a generally stronger range and so I may revert to 3.0x raising if I feel I keep getting outplayed. usually this is not the case and so I'm trying to steal as many blinds and play as many HU pots in position as I can vs. my perceived weaker opponents.