“I’ve got a problem. I don’t know what to do against regs that often 4-bet versus my squeezes (both in-position and OOP). What kind of hands should I push or fold (or maybe call)?” – Alex
This is a great question Alex, and really highlights the importance of planning as you increase your own aggression. You did mention calling the 4bet as an option in your question – but since we normally aren’t deep enough to justify a call, we’ll skip that option for this article.
First, let’s breakdown our three major options:
1 Squeeze a stronger range so you can combat 4bets more often
2 Squeeze and jam wider
3 Squeeze and fold often if you face a 4bet
Option 3, even though it’s by far the worst option, is the one most commonly employed by players that want to increase their squeeze %. Squeezing is a great poker play, one that applies a ton of preflop pressure to both the original raiser and the caller(s) – but squeezing a wide range and then folding everything but the nuts to a combative 4bet range is NOT a good idea. It makes you too big of a target with a frequency exploit that even bad regs can identify and exploit with ease.
Squeezing wide and folding too often vs a 4bet makes you a HUGE target
The second option is certainly viable, but boils down to your opponent’s 4bet range (though to be fair, all of these options do). Say your opponent combats your squeeze by 4betting 5% of hands where the nutted part is QQ+/AK (so about half of that range). There are some questions you’d want to ask yourself first:
1 Is the other half of the range made of hands that will fold to your shove, or possibly call your shove? (There is a huge difference between villain 4betting TT and deciding to call your shove vs 4betting 98s and folding to your shove)
2 What is the math of my shove? (Hint, a fold equity calculator is your friend here)
3 What is the EV of your shove?
4 What % of your squeeze range is shoving over a 4bet?
The first three questions all revolve around ranges and math, but the last question about your own range is vital since you mentioned this is vs regs specifically. Regs, short for regulars, are players that you play more hands against and tend to think more than non-regs. This means it’s important to understand their frequencies AND your own since they will be paying attention to your strategy and be looking to exploit you as well.
I suppose I should also clarify what “jamming wider” really means. Depending on the kind of frequency your opponent 4bets AND calls the 4bet, you have two major options (sick of options and questions yet?):
1 They 4bet wide, call the shove tightly, and thus fold too often when you jam. In this case, you can add more bluffs into your squeeze/jam range.
2 They 4bet wide, call the shove wide, and thus continue too often. In this case, tailor your range to one that would be +EV when called.
Of course, if your opponent only 4bet with a super-nutted range, you could simply squeeze more and combat their 4bet less often because there is no fold equity and you are exploiting their nitty frequency. Easy game!
The final option, albeit the first one in the list from the beginning, is to squeeze less often and with a stronger range so that you can combat the 4bet more often. This is the safe option and the one most players use. I don’t suggest this option though for a couple different reasons.
First, you are talking about playing against regs specifically. You can’t just play nutty ranges at all times against these players. If you do, you make it very easy for them to react to your re-raises since you turn your ranges face-up. Against regs you need a balance of bluffs:value hands and can’t skew too hard one way or the other.
Secondly, most players aren’t great in 4bet/5bet pots because they don’t see these spots very often. This gives us a chance to use math and stay within our comfort zone while applying pressure and pushing them out of theirs. Players who are unaccustomed to certain spots tend to have awful frequencies which allows you to either adjust by 5betting more bluffs or 5betting a very clear value range.
With all of that said, option #2 is typically a very attractive option. It allows you to squeeze and pick up pot preflop when everyone folds to the squeeze. It allows you to combat your opponent when they 4bet. And it gives you complete flexibility at all points in the hand. Just remember that this play (squeezing with intentions of 5bet jamming a very non-0% of the time) requires some foresight to ensure its profitability.
Just keep a few things in mind here:
1 Don’t squeeze and then NEVER have a folding range when he 4bets. This allows villain to play perfectly against you.
2 Know your equities (do you know how much equity 99 has vs TT+/AQ+? What about QQ vs QQ+/AK?). The equity is huge when estimating the EV of your shove.
3 Practice the math away from the table so you can estimate it in real-time.
You can use my simple all-in preflop spreadsheet for practicing the math which will save you tons of time and let you explore a common situations with various hands/equtiies. Just visit the spreadsheet page here.
Alex, hopefully this answers your questions and gives you the thought process to keep in mind the next time you combat a reg in this spot. If you or anyone else has a poker related question, feel free to ask by going to www.splitsuit.com/ask
And of course, good luck and happy grinding.