WPT GTO Trainer Hands of the Week: Defending your Button on Shallow Stacks
This week we’re playing a common spot in a tournament where stack sizes are around 20 BBs. The player in the Cutoff seat opens and we flat call on the Button. Our range on the Button will include some slowplayed premium hands such as AA and KK, suited connectors, suited aces, suited 9x and 8x hands, and occasionally some lower offsuit broadway hands. Overall, our range is narrower than the Cutoff’s wide opening range.
When our opponent checks, we should often take stabs at the pot in position with a variety of hands. We can exert our positional and range advantages through frequent betting. When the turn card favors our range more than the Cutoff’s range, we can also follow up with another bet on the turn.
In addition, when the Cutoff bets on the flop, we can frequently call in position with the intention of having a robust turn betting range when they check. This is especially true on cards that will favor our flop calling range.
Overall, we will have a fairly “sticky” button strategy of generally continuing by either calling or betting small with many hands that have any reasonable equity in the pot.
One notable exception to this strategy is when you hold a hand such as second pair on relatively static boards that will tend to lose their value when you bet. These hands generally do well when the pot remains small. If you bet and the Cutoff continues, their range will trend towards the top pair or better hands that beat second pair. With hands in this category, you should often check back and attempt to get to a controlled showdown.
A key concept when considering whether or not to bluff catch is to ask yourself the question: Where am I in my range? If you hold a hand that is on the higher side of possible hands you can hold in this spot, you should consider calling. Given the Cutoff’s wide opening range this can sometimes mean calling down with bottom pair or even Ace high.
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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.