Learning to defend the big blind is critical, especially in Zoom Poker where you to make more decisions, and less time to make them.
While Zoom Poker shares the same fundamental strategy with normal poker, there are key adaptations you need to make. Since people have limited reads, and since people can simply dump their hands, it can play somewhat differently.
With Zoom Poker, you can easily play 1000 hands per hour over four tables. This means you might play 150-200 big blinds per hour. If you’re leaking money in this position it can make your hourly take a huge hit.
I’ve put together this guide to teach you theory behind how to defend the big blind vs the Button, and then highlight the key adaptations you should bring to zoom games.
Defend the Big Blind Strategy #1 – 3betting against Button
The standard open raise in zoom poker is 2-2.5x from the button. Standard BB 3bets are usually 8BB, with BU 4bets around 15-16BB.
Tight players are opening 40% from BU, and it’s not rare to see open ranges of 75-80%.
This is a general guideline to defend the big blind from which you can develop and tweak your game:
- A good start is to 3bet roughly 1/4 the range that the opponent opens.
- Roughly 45% of your 3bet range needs to be for value, meaning you won’t give up to a BU 4bet.
- Your bluff range is the top of your range that is not strong enough to call.
Let’s practice vs an opponent with 55% open.
- Your 3bet range will be 14%.
- Your value range will be the top 6.3% of hands: something like 99+, AJs+, AJo+
- Your bluff range will be the top 8% of hands that you can’t play profitably as calls, with emphasis on blockers, playability and board coverage.
Here’s an example of what this range might look like:
- Contains every card except 2x, covering most boards
- Uses bluffs with flush (all suited), straight (Q8o, J8o, 87o, suited 2 and 3 gappers) and blocker (Kx, Qx, Jx, Tx) value
This is by no means the perfect range, but it’s a logical, thought out example of what a good range against this 50% opening opponent might look like.
See below for different 3bet range guidelines against different open ranges. Please note that as your opponent’s range gets wider, more of your hands become profitable flats.
Thus, the top of your folding range changes, which changes your 3bet bluffs.
|BU Opens||BB Total 3bet||BB Value 3bet||BB Bluff 3bet|
|40%||10%||4.5%: TT+, AQo+, AQs+||5.5%|
|50%||12.5%||5.6%: 99+, AJs+, AQo+, KQs||6.9%|
|60%||15%||6.75%: 88+, ATs+, AQo+, KJs+||8.25%|
|70%||17.5%||7.9%: 88+, ATs+, AJo+, KJs+, some combos KQo||9.6%|
Defend the Big Blind Strategy #2 – Flatting Against Button
Against a button minraise, you get 3.5:1 odds on a call. This means you need only 22.2% equity to make a flat here. Let’s make one thing clear: it’s not hard to have 22% equity. This is the equity 78s has against AA.
Against an open range of 40%, any hand has 22% equity. However, out of position you won’t realize the full 22% equity with hands like 63o, J4o, and so forth. We wrote about realizable equity before on our blog which you can read here.
Our flatting range is essentially any hand that realizes at least 22% of its equity out of position against button’s range, but isn’t strong enough to 3bet for value. From the example before, a flatting range against a 55% minraise could look like:
Here are some key considerations about flatting in the BB vs BU:
- You don’t need to worry about being 3bet or squeezed since you close the action
- You need to understand that you only called with some hands since you get 22% equity. You need to win 1/5 pots, roughly. Don’t get too sticky with weak top pairs
- Your range is weaker than BU since he has 99+, and the strong Ax in his range, but those are in your 3bet range. You are significantly weaker on A high, and broadway heavy boards.
- Always remember that you will be out of position
Defend the Big Blind Strategy #3 – Squeezing
Squeezing is a key strategy in the BB. Many SB players do not understand that they should play 3bet or fold vs BU. Thus, they flat BU’s opens in the SB.
When someone flats the SB, it tells you a few things:
- They’re probably not the strongest player, since most strong players will 3bet or fold the SB
- They don’t have a nutted hand (unless trapping), since they would have 3bet with these hands.
Thus, you should be squeezing wide for both value (against the weaker SB) and as a bluff (with extra money in the pot).
Usual squeeze sizing is the open raise x5 + 1 open raise for each additional flatter after the first. As a squeezer, you risk 9bb to win 5, and have more fold equity since the raise is larger.
Finally, you should also look for chances to squeeze against the CO and BU, but do so more carefully. CO has a stronger range than BU, and unlike the SB, good players sometimes flat the BU. Use a narrower squeezing range here.
Special Zoom Poker Considerations
In Zoom, players aren’t as “married” to their hands as in other games. This means against most players, you have more fold equity.
Furthermore, players won’t have as wide a sample on you.
Thus, you can often:
- Barrel more postflop with your semibluffs
- Cbet wider ranges on flops
- Check-raise a bit wider
- Err on the side of wider, more bluffy 3bet ranges
- Squeeze more