BB strategy facing a small blind limp is an area of the game not enough players take advantage of. The average player limps too weak of a range, limps too often, and folds out of position to small c-bets with a too high of a frequency. This is universal truth at low stakes anywhere from heads up to 9 handed play.
As an example, in a spin and go tournament with 25 BB starting stacks, the equilibrium BB strategy would be to isolate a SB limp with 35-40% of hands. This would include most of the top 20%, a split frequency of the secondary portion, and then a tiny frequency of every other hand for the sake of board coverage.
This would be a fine preflop strategy to employ, but it misses the point of exploiting what most of the player pool does rather than try to develop a perfect GTO strategy. If the pool overfolds to isolations and overfolds to small c-bets, how can you possibly not choose a hyper aggressive strategy?
How to determine sizing?
Sizing depends on effective stack sizes. It’s reasonable to begin jamming vs limps at around 15BB or less. With premium hands at that depth, min isolating will be more profitable than jamming. At 20-30BB, 2-2.5x is appropriate, and 30BB+, 2.5-4x depending on strength of range and looseness of opponent.
Once you are closer to 75BB and facing an opponent who you know will limp call 6x with 2 cards, be sure to jack it up 6x when you are strong and push your equity edge. It’s important to be able to spot especially loose (both preflop and postflop) players here so you can adjust your strategy towards larger sizing and reduced bluffs.
Dealing with limp raises.
If you notice a player begins to limp raise your isolations you are going to want to develop a more polarized isolation range that includes premiums that are happy to get limp raised, as well as weaker hands that are happy to immediately fold. Isolating a player who employs limp raise strategies with middling hands like J9s or A5o is playing directly into their hands.
SB limp raises are generally done with a strong range and should be respected. Be on the lookout for any players who limp raise fold, or limp raise and show a weak hand at showdown. You can adjust to this strategy by going to war and 4 bet bluffing this opponent when stacks allow, or you can simply choose to no longer bluff preflop.
C-bet strategy when called
For the sake of simplicity you can go ahead and c-bet your entire range for 1/3 pot. There are times when it is appropriate to adjust from this strategy, and usually it is when you have strong but immediately vulnerable value on a wet/drawy flop. Most players will be over folding as well as under check raising in this spot, so exploiting this tendency with frequent betting is important. For the times when you choose to check back preflop, you’ll want to frequently stab the flop against checks. When a weak player limps preflop and checks, that’s a sign of massive weakness and it needs to be taken advantage of.
You can use HUD stats (SB limp fold%, Fold flop vs c-bet OOP%) To help determine how aggressive you’re going to be vs a given opponent.
In a non ante game, a 3x isolation only needs to work 50% of the time (risking 2 chips to win 4) to show immediate profit not counting the likely profit from c-betting. Look out for loose high vpip opponents who make it their lifes mission to see every flop but play fit or fold postflop. They may have an avatar that says, “Please iso me and stab every flop, you’re a good person and deserve my money.” Regulars who have limp fold stats higher than 50% should be attacked, but remember to be careful if they begin to adjust.
A 1/3 pot c-bet strategy only needs to work 25% of the time to show immediate profit. The majority of the player pool across pretty much all sites and stakes is going to under defend vs that strategy. It’s important to realize that typical players employ a strategy that involves raising good hands and limping bad hands, so they’re behind the 8 ball from the start. When a player limp calls a raise in the SB and then check calls the flop, he obviously has something but is still displaying incredible weakness and is susceptible to being barreled off on a lot of turns depending on board texture.
Sooooo, how much should I iso?
40% should be a minimum benchmark for your own isolation frequencies. Putting the pedal to the metal and going higher than that is absolutely fine so long as you stay aware of who begins to adjust. Hint: barely anyone will actually adjust. Most players have rigid strategies and even if they think you are up to something they will tend to under adjust, and often times they will adjust incorrectly.
If you’d like to learn more exploitative tendencies that can help you crush sng’s please check out the coaching section.