Considering The Small Blind

Four Dogs

Four Dogs

Legend
The question comes up every now and then as to how completing the small blind bet effects your EV. There's always someone, usually Twizzybop, who thinks that dispite your favorable pot odds, calling the 1/2 bet on the small blind is the most donkish play imaginable, aside from the limp call of course. For some reason he takes the SB call as a personal affont. Perhaps he considers those who practice it as charlatans with no real right or business participating in a pot more justly reserved for those who paid the full price.

Then there are those of us who believe that whenever your getting 3,5,7 or 9:1 pot odds, you should take it, regardless of hand or position. I am one of those. However, I also believe that other variables must be taken into consideration. Your own post flop skills for one and the aggressiveness or lack thereof of the other players at the table, particularly the big blind.

Up until now, this philosophy has been based soley on my gut feelings with little empirical evidence to back it up. I don't use Poker Tracker, but I do retain all my hand histories, so I went back to the beginning of the year and have begun a spread sheet containing each of the hands I played or folded from the small blind to get a rough idea of how profitable or unprofitable the SB call is (for me). Here are the preliminary results.

In order to compare apples to apples I stuck to NL .05/.10 tables. In the first 3 sessions of Data entered I was the SB 22 times. Of those 22 SB hands, I folded 4. That puts me firmly in the play anything camp. Of the remaining 18 hands, I raised 5 times, limped 11 times and called a raise 2 times. The total winning of the 3 sessions from just the small blind was $1.50 = $0.07/hand. In short, I was able to win back my 1/2 bet with a $0.02 profit.

I realize that 3 random sessions is strictly anacdotal, and I am by no means encouraging anyone to play outside their comfort zone. But I do feel strongly, that with caution and discipline, entering the pot with strong pot odds may not be the donk play that some will have you believe. That being said I am open criticism and would appreciate hearing from anyone with corroborating or contradicting experience. Twizzy, lets see your hand histories.
 
twizzybop

twizzybop

Legend
Then there are those of us who believe that whenever your getting 3,5,7 or 9:1 pot odds, you should take it, regardless of hand or position


Yes based apon EV... its been proven no matter what that money flows towards the end of the table, I keep proving that you need a hand to play from the SB.. you raise lets say with pocket 10's and lets say there were 3 limpers before you.. you really feel that safe to make a continuation bet cause you act 1st? Wouldn't that continuation bet be much safer when you are acting last instead of 1st?..

You want hand histories from my SB... I haven't checked them cause I know as of lately I am playing solid poker. Still not the best poker granted but I am enjoying the bad beat and someone saying GG when I lose.
I am starting to let my emotions go from the game cause if I know to myself that I am playing solid poker, then I can pat myself on the back.

Yes I still make mistakes by playing stupid hands, got ...caught up earlier with one tonight.. I blamed myself for it.. someone mini pre-flop raised.. I was early/mid.. decided to limp with a,2 just for the heck.. but called the raise.. flop comes a,2,9 with 2 of the cards suited... someone bet before me.. I pushed all-in.. lost against someone with a,9.... mistake was not to play such a hand.. if I folded to begin with which normally would do.. I wouldn't have lost
 
A

AceZWylD

Visionary
I tend to agree with Four on this one. I will almost always call from the SB if the pot is unraised. Why? Because the BB and SB are the sleeper hands that can sneak up on the table. It doesn't happen often, but there are times where you will flop 2 pair to an unthreatening board, and you can extract a lot of chips from donks bluffing with high card. If I hit a solid starting hand with SB, I will raise the pot regardless of if it has already been raised for a couple of reasons. First, it gets the opposition to back off a little if you bet out on the flop. Second, most opponents at lower limits min raise everything, so I raise their min raise 4x just to try and isolate the hands further.

Twizzy, if you play aggressive enough from the SB, you can profit greatly for it. I am under the belief that no matter what position I am sitting in, I am the most fundamentally sound player at the table. I also know that no matter what position I am sitting in, this is still a game of cards and table image. If you stick with your table image at all times, then whether you play out of the SB or MP, you know how to win the pot.
 
Four Dogs

Four Dogs

Legend
twizzybop said:
Yes I still make mistakes by playing stupid hands, got ...caught up earlier with one tonight.. I blamed myself for it.. someone mini pre-flop raised.. I was early/mid.. decided to limp with a,2 just for the heck.. but called the raise.. flop comes a,2,9 with 2 of the cards suited... someone bet before me.. I pushed all-in.. lost against someone with a,9.... mistake was not to play such a hand.. if I folded to begin with which normally would do.. I wouldn't have lost
I really don't want to turn this into a hand analysis thread, but you think that playing A,2 was the big mistake? That could just as easily happend with any two cards. Even you must admit that flopping 2 pair is usually a good thing, dispite the cards.
Why the all-in? What were you trying to accomplish? If you were trying to protect your hand, the a smaller bet might have worked just as well, without the risk. You might have gained some valuable information on your opponents hand.

But I'm glad that you brought this up because it goes right to the heart of the SB issue. Most often, it's not the poor position that gets people into trouble, but rather, poor post flop play. With me, I will limp in from the small blind with almost any 2 cards with the intention of getting out of the hand or checking at the first sign of danger. Don't forget, once you've seen the flop, you've already gotten your moneys worth out of your 1/2 bet, the hand must then be evaluated based on new conditions. Top pair is usually not enough for me to take a shot at 3 limpers in position.

You mentioned raising from the SB with TT and then asked if I would feel confident making a continuation bet against 3 limpers. Well, I would raise with that hand and yes, as long as there are no overcards I would bet into the flop. Not all-in, like you did with your A,2, but I think that 1/2 to 1/1 pot sized bet would be in order.
 
robwhufc

robwhufc

Cardschat Elite
Four Dogs said:
With me, I will limp in from the small blind with almost any 2 cards with the intention of getting out of the hand or checking at the first sign of danger. Don't forget, once you've seen the flop, you've already gotten your moneys worth out of your 1/2 bet, the hand must then be evaluated based on new conditions. Top pair is usually not enough for me to take a shot at 3 limpers in position.
You're wasting half a bet in my opinion. Firstly, the 7/8/9-1 odds are a bit of a red herring - you are getting those odds to call that bet, but there are 2 more rounds of betting left. Secondly, the BB is still to act - if he min raises (they do at places like Titan), then you are almost compelled to call that extra bet too. If you won't proceed heavily with top pair (wisely, because you'll probably have poor kicker), then the likelihood of flopping a better hand are going to be much higher than 9-1 (and you wont get implied odds post flop as the board will likely be v.dangerous for your opponent).

These always seem to be the hands that you pay 15 chips "just for a look" and end up losing 200 post flop. Flopping 2 pair is especially dangerous - these never hold up, especially multi-way.
 
poettic1

poettic1

Guest
i checked today i play the sb roughly 33% of the time but online my goal is to find the loosest table posible and titan-up. at a tight table the special is the greatest money making thing in the game. and that is the point of the game. so you turn over a hand they call you gus hansen and start to make a run at you sheer the sheep move on.

too the hand i have to disagree with everyone here i would have tried to extract more info made another raise. when the guy behind you calls reraises its ez the reassses the hand. but you played it well enough, and shouldn't kick yourself
 
Dorkus Malorkus

Dorkus Malorkus

HELLO INTERNET
In early tourney stages and in ring games: Complete in most cases (see below) if there are a couple of limpers with almost anything.

In mid-late tourney stages: Calling in the SB is one of the worst plays you can make.

Obviously this is a side effect of implied odds and fold equity - later in tourneys your implied odds go down, and it's more likely that people will fold to a SB raise later on (in the early stages you'd probably be playing prolly 3+ to the flop OOP even if you raised 4BB into 4 limpers from the SB - undesirable without a big hand to back it up).

Basically, completing is fine as long as:

- You and one or two of the limpers are deepstacked enough.

- You can get away from marginal flops (T8o, flop QT3, etc).

- Your opponents are bad enough to pay you off with relatively weak hands when you hit a monster.

- The BB isn't a maniac.

Yes based apon EV... its been proven no matter what that money flows towards the end of the table
Yeah, money generally flows in a clockwise direction around the table as hands are played, focused on the button. This proves absolutely nothing about the wiseness or otherwise of completing in the SB with odds to do so. When you limp with good odds from the SB, you're playing to flop a big hand, and as such position is not so crucial (don't get me wrong, it still matters, only not as much), as your postflop decision making should be relatively easy. It's similar to limping in EP at a passive table with 33 - your position really doesn't matter extensively because you're just playing to flop a set - practically any other flop and it's an easy check-fold.

Before anyone points this out, yeah this does contradict a little with this post of mine...

This was one of my biggest leaks when I was starting out, I used to see over 50% of flops from the SB, just because "hey I have money invested so i may as well call and try and hit a flop". Problem is, most of the time you won't hit a flop, and sometimes you'll end up hitting a Q holding Q4 and not knowing whether you're outkicked or not. It's not only the losing money when you miss the flop, but also losing money when you weakly hit a flop when out of position.

PT tells me I'm seeing about 29% of flops from the SB now in full ring games, and that seems pretty ideal.
...except it doesn't, because...

(a) I was referring mainly to calling a raise as regards the leak.
(b) As stated, a big problem was that I couldn't get away from flopped marginal hands, thus until I fixed this, folding more in the SB was a more sensible option for me.
(c) The OP refers to there only being one limper, which isn't ideal for completing in the SB with.
 
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