We’ll start a detailed analysis for a common scenario in Texas Hold'em Poker: the Button (BTN) versus Big Blind (BB) in a single raised pot in a 6max 100bb cash game.
This is a very common spot in no limit cash games, and so it's important to know this spot well if you play these games.
Preflop, the action folds to the button who raises ~42% of hands. The small blind folds, and the big blind calls with ~34% of hands.
The flop comes XXX, what should happen next?
Recap of the study method we'll use:
- Study the preflop ranges for the IP and OOP players involved in this spot. This is a crucial first step!
- Get familiar with the average values for this spot for IP and OOP. The EV and EQ values, bet sizing, bet frequency, fold frequency etc. This will give you a feel for the baseline strategy.
- Group the flops into subsets (high card, texture, suitedness) and sort by EV and EQ to learn the patterns for which flops are best, worst and average for IP and OOP.
- Look at which flops are best for IP, which are best for OOP - sort the table by EV and EQ.
- Apply grouping (high card, texture, suitedness) and sort the table by key stats relevant to the spot to learn the strategic patterns for different flop types. Here are some examples of key stats:
- most common bet size
- highest cbet flops
- highest check flops
- highest fold vs bet
- lowest fold vs bet
- highest raised flop
- lowest raised flops
- Look at which flops have the highest, lowest and average key strategy stats for each spot by sorting the table as in the step above.
At each step, write down the main takeaways for IP or OOP. What are the highest and lowest value flops or flop types for different strategic actions? What flops or flop types fall into the average value range for different strategic actions?
This example will start things off by looking at the spot from the button's perspective and apply groupings to get an overview, before looking at basic overall strategy on specific flops. The same procedure should then be applied for the big blind.
You can skip to the end if you want to skim the key strategic takeaways for BTN strategy.
Ready? Let's get into it!
Step 1: Study Preflop Ranges for Button and Big Blind
This is the BTN opening range at 6max 100bb
It is uncapped and contains all the best hands, all the pairs, broadways, suited Aces, suited Kings. Most of the suited Queens and Jacks, most suited connectors and the better 1 and 2 gap suited connectors. Plus some weaker hands like offsuit Aces, and other hands like K8o, T6s.
This is the BB calling range at 6max 100bb
BB range is capped, it doesn't contain any of the best hands such as TT+, AK, AQs, AJs. Most of the suited broadway hands like KQs, KJs, JTs will have been 3bet preflop. It also doesn't contain the full weight of the suited connectors or medium pairs as they would also have been 3bet at some frequency preflop. The range contains many offsuit Aces up to AJo, and suited Aces from A6s - ATs. Along with the lower suited Kings, Queens and Jacks, and suited 1 and 2 gappers.
Step 2: Study Average Values for Action Frequencies and EV
We can see that on average, BTN has a big EV and equity advantage. This results in a low average checking frequency for BTN at only 37%, and a cbet frequency of 63%. The most common size for the continuation bet is 1/3 pot, but a larger bet is sometimes chosen on certain flops.
Now let's go to the filters and add some stats to the report for OOP response vs the 1/3 pot continuation bet.
Here we see that the big blind mainly wants to respond by calling 52% of the time and only folds 34%. Check raising is expected about 14% of the time on average, with a raise size of 3.5x the cbet size being the most common.
Step 3: Identifying Strategic Patterns by Grouping Flops into Subsets
Grouping by High Card, sorted by IP EV
- Flops with high card T or higher are best for IP, low flops are best for OOP
- High card flops have the highest IP cbet average, with ⅓ pot bet as the most common size.
- Low flops are best for OOP due to the BB having more lower suited connectors and low suited 1 and 2 gappers, but IP still has a solid EV advantage and cbets at 40-60% frequency on average on these boards.
Grouping by Suited, sorted by IP EV
- Rainbow flops are best for IP, allowing for a higher betting frequency than average.
- Monotone boards have a lower EV for IP, and so cbet less than average.
Grouping by Texture, sorted by IP EV
- High paired and high connected are best for IP, and this is reflected with a very high cbet frequency.
- High paired boards could employ a range bet strategy for 1/3 pot.
- High connected boards have a high cbet frequency, mostly betting 1/3 pot. There is a reasonable amount of betting bigger on these types of boards as well.
- Boards with high card lower than Ten have the lowest EV for the BTN, and these are checked at a higher frequency than average. Overall cbet is still fairly high at 50-60% with mostly a small bet favored. Can't just range bet these boards. BB should have a high check raise frequency on these boards.
Grouping by Extensive Board Categories, sorted by IP EV and IP Check Frequency
Sorted by descending IP EV
Sorted by ascending IP check frequency
This grouping breaks the flop textures into even more categories whilst keeping the amount of data manageable.
There are many takeaways from this view. Let’s look at some of the key ones.
- Most boards Ten high or greater that aren't monotone have a better than average EV for IP.
- IP can range bet 1/3 pot on three of a kind, broadway paired and paired Ace boards.
- IP can bet at a very high frequency on 1 or 2 broadway boards that aren't monotone and high paired boards.
- The 1/3 pot bet is the most common, but some boards mix in larger sizings, especially Ace + 1 or 2 broadways and three of a kind boards.
- Monotone boards of all types are checked the most, especially Ace high unpaired mono boards.
- Despite having a big EV advantage on Ace + 1 broadway flush draw boards, IP checks higher than average and mainly uses a larger bet sizing, suggesting a more polarized range.
- IP checks more than average on low boards, paired or unpaired. More so on low flush draw boards.
Step 4: Studying IP Action Frequencies on Specific Flops
Now that we've discovered the average frequencies and general patterns for button strategy, we'll start looking at specific flops to cement our knowledge and dive deeper.There's no limit to the depth and detail you can go into, but this is a good starting point.
Here we'll look at:
- highest cbet flops
- highest big bet flops
- flops where OOP has the highest check raise frequency
- most common check raise spots (taking into account IP bet frequency)
Highest cbet flops
To find this, we sort the table by ascending IP check frequency
- The three of a kind, paired broadway and non monotone 2 broadway flops are cbet at nearly 100% frequency.
- The high paired boards are bet nearly 100% with a small bet.
- The low 3 of a kind boards favor a larger bet, as do the high connected 2 broadway boards.
Highest big bet flops:
To find this, we sort the table by descending IP bet 67 and bet 100 frequency
Sorted by IP bet pot frequency
- The low 3 of a kind boards favor a 2/3 pot bet
- High connected 2+ broadway boards can have mixed sizings
- Ace + broadway boards check a reasonable amount, and prefer a big bet sizing. Particularly the flush draw and connected boards can bet full pot. This suggests a polarized betting range.
Bonus: Study Flops with Highest Check Raise Frequency
To see this, we add the OOP x/r frequency statistics to the table from the filters panel
Then sort the table by descending check raise
- OOP x/r at the highest frequency on paired boards between 66x and JJx.
- Despite this, IP is still betting at a high frequency, especially on the higher paired boards TTx+
Grouping by Extensive board categories to get an overview
We can see that the paired boards and low unpaired flush draw boards are check raised most frequently by the big blind. Ace + broadway, Ace + low cards, and 2 broadway boards are check raised the least, especially on rainbow boards.
To see the most common check raise spots, we add the global frequency stat to the report and sort
The results are fairly similar to the highest frequency check raises from OOP, with the difference in ordering due to how often IP cbets. Boards where IP cbets at a high frequency combined with a high x/r frequency for OOP will lead to this spot coming up more frequently for the big blind.
Key Flop Strategy Takeaways
1. Opening Ranges
- BTN opens ~42% of hands.
- BB calls with ~34% of hands.
- BTN opening range is uncapped and contains all the best hands, pairs, broadways, suited Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and most suited connectors.
- BB calling range is capped and lacks the top-tier hands. It consists of many offsuit Aces up to AJo, suited Aces from A6s-ATs, and lower suited Kings, Queens, Jacks, and suited 1 and 2 gappers.
2. Flop Analysis: General
- BTN has a considerable advantage in terms of EV and equity, leading to a c-bet frequency of 63% and a check frequency of 37%.
- The most common size for the continuation bet is 1/3 pot, but a larger bet is sometimes chosen on certain flops.
- Against the BTN's 1/3 pot c-bet, BB mainly responds by calling (52%) or folding (34%), with check raising being expected about 14% of the time.
3. Flop Analysis: High Card vs. Low Card Flops
- High card flops (T or higher) favor the BTN (in position). These have the highest continuation bet (cbet) average with a ⅓ pot bet as the most common size.
- Low card flops are better for the BB (out of position) due to their wider range of lower suited connectors and low suited 1 and 2 gappers. However, the BTN still has a solid EV advantage and cbets at a moderate frequency (40-60% on average) on these boards.
4. Flop Analysis: Suited Boards
- Rainbow flops are best for the BTN (in position), allowing for a higher betting frequency than average.
- Monotone boards have a lower EV for the BTN, resulting in a lower cbet frequency than average, especially Ace high unpaired mono boards.
5. Flop Analysis: Paired and Connected Boards
- High paired boards and high connected boards are favorable for the BTN (in position) and have a very high cbet frequency.
- Boards with high cards lower than Ten have the lowest EV for the BTN and are checked at a higher frequency than average. Overall cbet is still fairly high at 50-60% with mostly a small bet favored.
6. Flop Analysis: Specific Board Categories
- Three of a kind, paired broadway, paired Ace and non-monotone two broadway flops are cbet at nearly 100% frequency with a small bet.
- IP can bet at a very high frequency on 1 or 2 broadway boards that aren't monotone.
- On Ace + 1 or 2 broadway boards, IP checks higher than average and mainly uses a larger bet sizing, suggesting a more polarized range.
- On low 3 of a kind boards, a larger bet is favored.
- On high connected 2+ broadway boards, mixed sizing can be observed.
7. Check-Raising Frequencies by the BB
- OOP (out of position) check-raises occur most frequently on paired boards between 66x and JJx.
- Despite this, the BTN (in position) still bets at a high frequency, especially on higher paired boards (TTx+).
- Paired boards and low unpaired flush draw boards are check-raised most frequently by the BB.
- Ace + broadway, Ace + low cards, and two broadway boards are check-raised the least, especially on rainbow boards.
Conclusion: The Importance of Studying Poker Strategy with Aggregated Reports
Aggregated reports are a powerful tool for simplifying the complex postflop gametree and learning a baseline post flop strategy.
They are useful for discovering patterns in GTO strategy, allowing for simplifying strategic decisions to implement in your overall postflop game plan.
Completing the study of this button vs big blind spot is left as an exercise for the reader. There's no substitute for putting in the hours in the lab. This is where edges are gained!
To finish off, we would repeat the process for key OOP strategy stats. At this point, you should have a solid overview of IP betting frequencies and sizings and expected OOP responses on different flop types.
There's a lot to take in, so it is important to take notes as you work through the process. Once done, summarize your findings into the key takeaways for the spot for both IP and OOP.
To sharpen and fix your knowledge so that it becomes second nature in game, it is recommended to test yourself regularly.