In BB defense strategy discussions the following questions often arise: "What to do against an overbet on the turn?", "The opponent is aggressive and might also bet on the river, what is my plan?" and so on. Let's try to delve a little deeper into the issue.
As an example let's take a seemingly simple spot BB vs BTN, where the Hero on the turn faces a second barrel overbet of 140% of the pot. I actually found a real hand for illustration:
Let's start with our possible options:
- Option #1 - Stick to a balanced strategy, which we have studied more or less using solvers (fortunately, in this spot there's nothing complex). This option is certainly effective, but I consider it simultaneously a hard and lazy way for players below NL500. Hard because you surely spent many hours with solvers integrating machine solutions into your game, and my respect to you. Lazy because the blind commitment to solvers often dulls your intuition, and as a result, you forget to work more closely with stats and look for hot exploits and cardinal adjustments (which actually can also be found with a solver).
- Option #2 - Follow your intuition. Against an aggressive opponent — "calling down wider," against a passive one — "overfolding". By the way, before you continue reading, think about your defense threshold against aggressive and passive opponents here.
As I see it, the ideal approach would be to combine these options and use all available information to find the optimal solution.
Balanced defense against an overbet
Let's start with what a balanced defense should look like in such a situation:
We can see many intuitive calls (we don't fold any top pair, right?).
We defend with quite understandable frequency: top pair+, flush draws, the best of 2nd and 3rd pairs. But we need to realize if such a defense is okay against an average opponent? And what about the passive or aggressive ones?
Adapted strategy against real players
Let's first look at the hand distribution in equilibrium:
We can find a number of unorthodox (at first glance) solutions here. In addition to obvious value bets with varying equity and bluffs with draw hands there are also plenty of polarized bluffs (no made hands without draws in the screenshot above). In other words, the balanced defense strategy will be useful only against the balanced betting range.
"The balanced defense strategy will be useful only against the balanced betting range".
Let me show you a short example. I'll make a tiny change in the overbet range, simply removing an insignificant number of combos of polarized bluffs.
The bet frequency decreased by just 1% but look how drastically this affects our defense:
Take a look at the change in the defense frequency against the overbet after these "insignificant changes". The fold increased by ~15%, and most top pairs must be folded now!
Even such subtle changes significantly affect the defense frequency. Often, players just look at the extended overbet stats in pop-ups, see the presence of draw hands there, and satisfied with that, calling with top pairs.
Based on calculations, we can conclude that for a solver-based defense it is very important that our opponent has polarized bluffs in his range!
Not only drawing hands but also polarized bluffs. This becomes especially important on textures with a lack of possible draws. Just the presence of draw hands in the overbet does not guarantee that you can defend with a frequency close to equilibrium.
Unfortunately, I've got nothing new to you.
- Spend more time with the software, study GTO, and explore how changes in one player's strategy affect another one’s.
- Use pop-ups more actively during playing sessions. Often, it is the extended stats that help to reveal the opponent's ability to throw some polarized bluffs in his range:
1) If you find them, stick to the more balanced defense (nuts FD, combo draws, draw+pair, most top pairs with relevant blockers).
2) In the absence of polarized bluffs you should overfold (call only with 2 pair+, FD+pair, TPTK sometimes).
- Study the tendencies of the pool in Range Research. Thanks to player aliases you can find exhaustive samples for specific sizings and lines you are interested in. You can understand how different types of players (regs and fish) act on average. This is where you can find these hands in Range Research pop-ups:
- You also need to look for these hands in the opponent's pop-ups in real time to understand their logic. The number of samples will certainly be much less but often a couple of hands are enough to realize the opponent's tendencies:
- Against passive regs it's better to overfold almost all top pairs and worse flush draws.
- Against aggressive ones you have to play either a balanced strategy or dig into their stats to make adjustments based on their tendencies if you want to gain more from these spots.