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Old 02-29-2008, 02:21 AM   #1
The Bryce
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Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

So there are three topics I'd like to talk about here, but let's start with the easy one. I've been splashing some chips playing HU NL and one thing that I noticed was that nobody increases their raise size from the BTN as stacks get deeper.

This seems... odd. There are a few things that happen when you increase your open raise size.

1) You lose more chips when your opponent re-raises and you fold.
2) If you increase your raise size to a point where you will get to make fewer meaningful decisions in position, you decrease your positional advantage.
3) Assuming that you will not be going all-in frequently with either raise size the larger open-raise size allows you to net a significantly larger dollar amount on all further post-flop decisions where you have the best of it.

To use an extreme example, an open raise to $40 with $1 and $100 stacks (ignoring other issues) completely negates your positional advantage, as your opponent will either just shove or fold, and you don't get to make any meaningful decisions. With an open raise to $40 with $1 blinds and $10,000 stacks this is not the case. You will still get to make as many meaningful decisions as possible with your positional advantage. You are, however, creating a pot that is much larger on average than if you had made a much smaller opening raise. If you believed you had the best of it when playing in position, and if your opponent would not alter his strategy regardless of whether you made an open raise of $5 or $40 the open raise to $40 would be the superior strategy.

To look at it form a much less exaggerated and contrived angle, though, let's talk about a common poker situation. You are playing against an opponent whom you believe you are a favorite against. If your strategy with stacks of 100bb is to open-raise for 3x then why wouldn't open-raising to 4x be a superior strategy with stacks of 200bb, or 300bb?
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:32 AM   #2
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

Just a loose idea to get the thread started, villians tend to misplay turns a lot more then flops. Inflating the flop and betting hard gives the villian a spider sense as to where the hand will be headed; a big pot where he has to make a decision between a showdown for most of his chips or a fold.

We ultimately want to keep villians interested in the pot and not scared of it on the turn. A bigger raise preflop, in my opinion, contributed to villians tightening up on turns which is not good if we're a favourite, because by far the most villian mistakes come from the turn.
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:45 AM   #3
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

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Originally Posted by The Bryce View Post
To look at it form a much less exaggerated and contrived angle, though, let's talk about a common poker situation. You are playing against an opponent whom you believe you are a favorite against. If your strategy with stacks of 100bb is to open-raise for 3x then why wouldn't open-raising to 4x be a superior strategy with stacks of 200bb, or 300bb?
Well, the biggest reason why I'd raise to 3bbs with 100bb stacks still apply deeper. You force him to open his callingrange in the BB, thus you get to play alot of pots in position with deep stacks to manouver as you want.
If he doesn't start calling more and just folds all his BBs, then you have the advantage because of stealing lots of blinds, and

-when he calls the pot is stil small, you have pos, and he has a defined range while you have any 2 cards.

-to his reraises you can choose to fold and give him the 3bbs, which you'll get back pretty fast due to his tightness oop, or play a reraised pot deep in pos with a wide range of hands, depending on the raisesize.

-if he starts reraising big frequently you can choose if you want to join the variance-fest (and possibly increase your expectation a little) and 4 bet light, call and float, etc, or you can just try to get good hands and take advantage of his disproportionally large reraises compared to your open. Either way you should come out well ahead if you have an edge to begin with.
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:50 AM   #4
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

If you want to more money in preflop, the better way to do is just to open more and more hands. This will generally force villain to either 3bet a lot more or call a lot wider. Either of these is fine for us, because it gives us a piece of information, whereas villain has none about our hand. You can use his aggression to naturally build the pot preflop for you.
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:50 AM   #5
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

while the topic isn't exact, there are is some interesting stuff in this thread from a while back:

http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/show...=all&vc=1&nt=2
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:58 AM   #6
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

bryce-

i recently played a fun lil match with u on FTP, and i at first i thought u were a complete idiot with the 5bb experiment. i think it was pretty gross 100bb deep, but gained a ton of value as stacks got deeper: you also balanced well enough that a sheer overaggro 3betting strategy was sure to get me crushed oop which is of course the first step as thats what all ur opponents r going to try first id imagine.

i think we need some kind of system to quantify our postflop advantage: and the best i can think of at 2 am is a ratio of PSBs after the flop relative to stacksize.

we then need to figure out if say--- the 5th and 6th potsize bets postflop are going to occur frequently enough and if we are going to be able to gain a significant enough edge when they do occur to make a "std" 3 bb raise size correct as stacks get deep; my gut feeling is that they wont and that as stacks get deeper we want to raise to a size which leaves us with around 30x the pot behind in a raised pot so we can peel 3bets with a pretty wide range and 4bet etc....

my main reservation is that this might be an oversimplification and that another sound strategy as stacks get deeper would be to 4bet a much wider range than is standard and apply pressure that way. the obvious drawback is that our opponent then has an easy decision point to flat a wide range in the BB to the first raise and deny us our 4bet which isn't present in the open raise scenario.

so my conclusion as of now Bryce is that you are correct: as stacks get deeper we should be taking our opponent's pre and postflop tendencies into account and raising to a size which leaves us an optimal ratio of PSBs both when called and 3bet...
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:59 AM   #7
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

ill post more when im thinking more clearly cause this is interesting
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:06 AM   #8
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

oh yea- of course one of the first things we need to think about in a thought experiment here is IF there is a limit: and there is.

if we r playing with 100000000000000 deep stacks and open raise to 300 BB every hand we lose....

so plh i guess is a better thing to consider extremes in.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:16 AM   #9
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

Makes sense to me that if you have an edge on later streets then opening to 5x is better than 3x.

However, I'd rather have predictability at 3x raise than uncertainty w/ 5x raise regarding his ranges. But if I knew he'd react the same way then ya I'd think 5x is better.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:22 AM   #10
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

i have been experimenting with changing my preflop raise with stack sizes lately. between real matches people buyin for strange amounts between 20-60bb instead of 100. its easy money so i play but i think i get more edge by minraising, 2.5x raising and even limping(if confronted i'll deny this) preflop. this experiment was inspired by the (semi)recent 2+2 prof no limit book which i believe gives a solid argument for raising the amount that leaves the stacks with roughly 3 pot sizes bets post flop.

why am i not experimenting with bigger raises as stacks get deeper? uh, laziness. hitting pot is only 1 click, a limp, 2x or 2.5x is just a couple clicks, but scrolling to a 4x or 5x bet is like i dunno...8 clicks? (8 looks like a rotated infinity symbol imo) and i need real EV to input numbers which i dont think the first preflop raise can deliver.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:32 AM   #11
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

The more your opponents are willing to call the more you can raise and still expect a gain in EV. Keeping the pot small is good for control and feeling out your opponents early in a game. It also accomplished losing less when you lose the pot. If your raising as much as you should be your opening quite frequently and that bet size controls the pace for the rest of the action. This is especially true vs tight players, too often they are willing to fold there hands no matter what you do so keeping it small is highly beneficial because they are only playing back when they have the goods. When you find you have a donk thats calling lots of bets before the flop and even as you choose to escalate there sizes why continue to bet small. In situations like these I usually increase my bet size to 5-6 bbs to start and if hes calling them with ease then Ill make it even bigger, and when I have a premium hand I will really try to tax him with 8-10 bb bets. This also adds deception value to your later bets because if people are paying attention they will read your smaller bets later on as weak and you can exploit them playing back at you light. Bet sizing should be determined by your oppoents style of play not yours.
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:34 AM   #12
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

oh yea my std play in these situations is

2x less than 50 bb
3x up to 100
3.5x to 150
4x to 240
5x to 375
6x to 500

dont usually play more than 500 deep and these of course are generalizations obv depends on a ton of factors
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:43 AM   #13
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

As sauce points out, the main problem is just that as we raise bigger as opposed to more often, we are going to end up allowing villain to simply fold. Keep in mind his goal isn't to win money in the SB, it is simply to lose less than you do. If you are opening large enough that he can play a much tighter range of his hands, he can balance a lot more easily (as there is less air to spread around). You allow villain to play a fairly tight range of hands and simply 3bet his entire range, negating somewhat your informational advantage and lowing effective stacks.

A raise to 5x with ATC is profitable if villain calls less than 23% of the time. Obviously it can still be profitable if villain calls a lot, but villain can even 3bet 25%+ of his hands if you are opening all your buttons or nearly all.
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Old 02-29-2008, 04:22 AM   #14
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

Quote:
A raise to 5x with ATC is profitable if villain calls less than 23% of the time. Obviously it can still be profitable if villain calls a lot, but villain can even 3bet 25%+ of his hands if you are opening all your buttons or nearly all.
One thing to point out is that with GTO play your range becomes as your raise size becomes bigger, and vice versa. This is because as the odds you are laying your opponent to call become worse the amount that you can bluff goes up. So suggesting a larger raise size at different stack sizes also suggests somewhat widening your range (how much I can't say). As you mentioned here this may encourage your opponent to re-raise a lot against your wide range, but with deep stacks and position and (presumably) an edge over your opponent this does not, of course, necessarily translate into a bad thing, even if you are folding often. With a 5x raise as opposed to a 3x raise you would be losing an extra 2bb pre-flop the times you folded to a re-raise, but you would make the pots you chose to play in position 67% larger.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:26 AM   #15
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

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Originally Posted by tomahawk View Post
Well, the biggest reason why I'd raise to 3bbs with 100bb stacks still apply deeper. You force him to open his callingrange in the BB, thus you get to play alot of pots in position with deep stacks to manouver as you want.
If he doesn't start calling more and just folds all his BBs, then you have the advantage because of stealing lots of blinds, and

-when he calls the pot is stil small, you have pos, and he has a defined range while you have any 2 cards.

-to his reraises you can choose to fold and give him the 3bbs, which you'll get back pretty fast due to his tightness oop, or play a reraised pot deep in pos with a wide range of hands, depending on the raisesize.

-if he starts reraising big frequently you can choose if you want to join the variance-fest (and possibly increase your expectation a little) and 4 bet light, call and float, etc, or you can just try to get good hands and take advantage of his disproportionally large reraises compared to your open. Either way you should come out well ahead if you have an edge to begin with.
Why would you want the pot to be small? If you raise bigger his range will be a lot more defined than if you 3xbb. Making 4,5-5xBB raises super deep is imo v good against weaker opponents that will adjust poorly (do things like go into raise or fold mode, 3betting just pot giving you 2-1 pot odds to take a flop in position deep stacked, folding their bb way too often ect ect...) IMO vs a lot of opponents raising 2,5xbb is optimal when playing w 100bb stacks. I really think most people should try and vary their raise sizes more hu because unexperienced opponents often don't know how to react. Tight opponents won't know how to respond to laggy players opening for 2,3-2,5xbb (100bb deep). They realize they can't continue just playing premium hands and will have to play back at you more, which is good for you because you get them out of their comfort zone. You get them to play a game they don't really want to play. Tons of bad lag players (stupid scandis) will call from the bb way too often deep stacked when you raise big, letting you play bigger pots in position. Most of my edge in heads up matches comes from getting people out of their comfort zone and make them play a different style of poker than they usually do. Very interested in hearing other peoples thoughts about this and really hope we can have some interesting discussion about the subject.
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Old 02-29-2008, 10:53 AM   #16
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bryce View Post
One thing to point out is that with GTO play your range becomes as your raise size becomes bigger, and vice versa. This is because as the odds you are laying your opponent to call become worse the amount that you can bluff goes up. So suggesting a larger raise size at different stack sizes also suggests somewhat widening your range (how much I can't say). As you mentioned here this may encourage your opponent to re-raise a lot against your wide range, but with deep stacks and position and (presumably) an edge over your opponent this does not, of course, necessarily translate into a bad thing, even if you are folding often. With a 5x raise as opposed to a 3x raise you would be losing an extra 2bb pre-flop the times you folded to a re-raise, but you would make the pots you chose to play in position 67% larger.
I don't think this is accurate at all Bryce. If you were minraising on the button as a standard raise, you could easily raise 100% of your buttons (laying 1.5 to win 1.5, it's +EV on its own if villain folds 50% or more, which is fairly common OOP even if it is a minraise).

If you are raising to 10xBB, you can't be raising more than like 20% of your hands before you get anally raped.

Also, I think one key thing you are missing is that you can always change your flop/turn/river bet sizes if you want to play a big pot.
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Old 02-29-2008, 01:36 PM   #17
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

I like this topic a lot. I won't comment on what anyone else has said here, but want to contribute some of my own thoughts.

First, there is definitely a limit to x when opening xBB. I think it was stated above, but stack sizes are somewhat less important than blind sizes in the 'ideal' formula for how much to open. Basically I believe that throughout 100BB and yBB (y=400?) stacks, the stack size should be a factor in how many BB you open with. Once you start getting over 400BB, the stack sizes become less important, as opening with too many BB will allow:

1. Opponent to tighten up and play better hands (in general) profitably.
2. Opponent will 3 bet profitably with a better range.

Regardless of stacksize. (I say regardless, but of course if villian is bad enough it may still be profitable .. see note at bottom). Of course, 1 and 2 vary depending on the quality of your opponent.

A point I would like to add is that assuming you stick with your standard opening range, and you realize a particular cap on your open (say, 6BB @ 400BB stacks, as an example), there is the potential a smart opponent could take advantage of this.

For (a very simple) example, if the opponent knows 10Js and AA are in your range, he can profitable play something like AJ, by 3-betting the frequency you would have 10Js more likely and folding otherwise. If however, you were to vary your open 'randomly' between 3BB and 6BB, it would make it much more difficult to take advantage of this. Ideally, you could bet 3BB and 6BB exclusively at the frequency which you would receive either hand, thus making it impossibly for opponent to 3bet you profitably. (This is a similar example of Game Theory presented by Sklansky in Theory of Poker).

So my point is that I like the idea of increasing your open, as stack sizes in crease (to a cap). But I think it should be more random to make it harder for your opponent to correctly play against you.

My Note: Technically, you could (somewhat) remove the ideal opening 'cap' if your opponent is bad enough that you believe you have enough implied odds on your hand to make the larger open profitable. I think a lot of people have suggested this by saying how the opponents usually make more mistakes on the turn, but not explicitly.
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Old 02-29-2008, 05:13 PM   #18
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

I completely agree with op, x4 and x5 BB raises are underused as pot size gets bigger, but to just to be devils advocate:

- vs a lot of overly aggressive players (and there are a ton of them in the hu games), when u raise more ur ruining your implied odds preflop and on the flop (if he frequently checkraises). When you have more chips in relation to the pot size you generally can call more preflop reraises or flop checkraises either in order to hit big, or for a bluff on a later street.

- if you keep increasing your preflop raise size you might accidentally correct your opponents play. For example someone playing 80% of their hands preflop from the BB (which im sure everyone agrees is a pretty huge mistake) might call 3x and 4x raises and think nothing of it, but once u start going to 5x and 6x raises they might start to think of ways to exploit what seems to them like abnormal and thus incorrect preflop play. Vs a lot of players you kind of have to take a "dont fix it if it aint broke" mentality and keep them in an exploitable zone.
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Old 02-29-2008, 05:42 PM   #19
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

as is often the case, the answers to questions posed by bryce are opponent dependent. i have increased my raise size on the button with 100 bb effective before vs certain players, let alone 200 or 300+ bb.

also, extremely good points mcnasty.
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:11 PM   #20
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

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Originally Posted by Terkman View Post
Tons of bad lag players (stupid scandis) will call from the bb way too often deep stacked when you raise big, letting you play bigger pots in position. Most of my edge in heads up matches comes from getting people out of their comfort zone and make them play a different style of poker than they usually do.
When this is the case, obviously it's better to go 4 or even 5x, and against opponents like this I also like going bigger even with 100b (even though I feel I'm often too slow in recognizing stuff like this and experimenting, changing things up. F.ex I go 2.5x or 5x way to little, just stick to 3-4.)
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:35 PM   #21
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

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Originally Posted by Terkman View Post
Why would you want the pot to be small? If you raise bigger his range will be a lot more defined than if you 3xbb. Making 4,5-5xBB raises super deep is imo v good against weaker opponents that will adjust poorly (do things like go into raise or fold mode, 3betting just pot giving you 2-1 pot odds to take a flop in position deep stacked, folding their bb way too often ect ect...)
Yeah this all sort of depends how bad the opponent is, and in what way. I feel much more comfortable raising big deepstacked because that is consistent with the kind of match I want, BUT I still think the same reasons for betting small apply if you would do it with 100bbs.(maybe up to a point. 350-400bbs or something..?) If people play reasonably well, and are a typical HU player of today they are gonna have an easier time punishing a 5x than a 3x.

The main reason for keeping the pot small obv would be having room to play postflop. If your opponent is prone to making mistakes on the river for 200bbs you should let him have 200bbs by the river.

I really agree about the comfort zone thing, and wish I was better at exploiting it.
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:39 PM   #22
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

With exploitative play we can certainly fabricate scenarios, and very real scenarios at that, where a strategy with a smaller opening raise size will be more profitable than raising to a large size. Without getting into outright game theory, however, let's think of this in the context that we're playing against an opponent who isn't a dunce and will play well against both a 3x and 5x raise with stacks of 300bb.

Quote:
So my point is that I like the idea of increasing your open, as stack sizes in crease (to a cap). But I think it should be more random to make it harder for your opponent to correctly play against you.
Technically, this sort of randomization only means that you're decreasing your raise size some of the time, you're not changing your distribution. You have the same range when you raise to 3x and 6x in your example, so it has no impact on your opponent's ability to assign a value to your hand range (of course, it may confuse him in actuality, but let's say that's a moot point). Randomizing your range is only effective when you're balancing your range in a random manner. For example, if you always wanted to make a larger raise size with aces, but also snuck some trashy hands in there as well. In this scenario your distribution isn't changing.

Quote:
I don't think this is accurate at all Bryce. If you were minraising on the button as a standard raise, you could easily raise 100% of your buttons (laying 1.5 to win 1.5, it's +EV on its own if villain folds 50% or more, which is fairly common OOP even if it is a minraise).
It's counterintuitive, but it's correct. Whenever you are making a larger raise the GTO strategy will involve you bluffing with a larger range of hands than if you were making a smaller raise. For example, say you were in a particular scenario where you had the nuts 20% of the time and your strategy was to bet half pot, laying your opponent 3:1. The GTO strategy is to bluff 25% of the time that you bet, or 6.6% of the time overall. If you bet pot with the nuts here, laying 2:1 then you'd bluff 33% of the time that you bet, or about 10% of the time overall.

The reason this is counterintuitive to most, I imagine, is that it seems like by wagering less chips you can afford to play more hands, as you'll lose less with your poor hands. Remember, however, that your opponent is in the same shoes if you make a larger raise size with a wider range. Now he wants to play more hands, but will lose much more with his weaker hands.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:25 PM   #23
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

#1 reason not to do 5x raises imo is that I want to play deeper in position, and
#2 this lets my opponent correctly play less hands oop, which is not good
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:39 PM   #24
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

Bryce in response to what you said:

If you open to a larger amount and bet larger amounts you can bluff slightly more, but since your opponent is going to have tighter ranges doesn't that mean that your value bets can't be as thin?

So the ratio of the # of bluffing hands vs value betting hands might be higher with bigger bets but won't the total number of hands be similar since opponent will have tighter ranges? You didn't address that in your previous post.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:52 PM   #25
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Re: Let's Have a Discussion about Open-Raise Sizes

Quote:
#1 reason not to do 5x raises imo is that I want to play deeper in position, and
Ah, but how deep do you need to be? Really, for practical purposes, you're just as deep when your opponent calls a 3x raise OOP as when he calls a 5x raise with 400bb stacks, that extra action isn't really going to come up enough for it to have value.

Quote:
If you open to a larger amount and bet larger amounts you can bluff slightly more, but since your opponent is going to have tighter ranges doesn't that mean that your value bets can't be as thin?
Right, your average equity, bet size, and bluffing frequency are all co-dependent, meaning that your average equity when called affects your bet size, your bet size affects the amount you bluff, and the amount you bluff affects your average equity when called. To solve this stuff outright you need to get into calculus (which I can't do) or you can ask Excel to solve the simpler ones, and program like Maple for the more complex stuff. They have a pretty good breakdown of this in chapter 14 of MOP.
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