WPT GTO Trainer Hands of the Week: Defending the Big Blind on Shallow Stacks
Today you’ll be playing a common tournament spot where you defend the Big Blind with a 20BB stack by calling against a late position open raiser.
Since the Villain has the stronger preflop range as the raiser and your range is rather weak and capped because you just called preflop, you should check to the raiser on the vast majority of flops. Given that both ranges are fairly wide, you should continue on the flop against a c-bet with many hands, including just overcards with a backdoor draw. Domination of your one pair hands should be less of a concern since the stacks are so shallow.
As always, pay close attention to blockers. When a card you hold blocks a key value hand that Villain could hold, you should be more likely to continue against their aggression. For example, if it takes two cards to make a straight and you hold one of those cards, it makes it more difficult for your opponent to have a straight.
In general, you should check-raise against their c-bet with two categories of hands: low equity backdoor draws (that you would fold to an all-in), and high equity made hands (that you would call versus an all-in). In other words, your check-raises on the flop should be polarized between weaker hands and stronger hands and not include medium strength hands that would be put in a difficult spot if they faced an all-in.
When you do check-raise on the flop and Villain calls, be sure to size your turn bet so as to leave a meaningful bet for the river. On such shallow stacks, you should always plan ahead to make sure both your turn and river bets make the best use of your remaining chips.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use smaller bet sizing when out of position on the river with both some strong hands and medium strength hands and a few bluffs as a block bet and value bet. You can often set the price of showdown and extract some additional value from Villain with this sizing.
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Use this series of articles to practice the strategies you learn on LearnWPT (or at the table) and test your progress by playing a five-hand sample each week.