Countering Aggressive Isolators

AlpineCurtAlpineCurt Red Chipper Posts: 48 ✭✭
Coaches of RedChip, your advice is being heeded by the player pool. In the games I'm playing, (micros on WSOP.com) I'm noticing more and more players raising large over limpers and it's becoming more difficult to target limpers myself. I'm trying to put together a counter strategy to these aggressive isolators. Here's my thought process and the issues I'm having trouble solving.

Side note: I'm aware some people will suggest better game selection to avoid these players. I'm not trying to build a roll at the micros and I find way more fun in learning to be a pain in the rear to other players than just grinding.

When I isolate a limper, getting called or 3Bet by a player with position on me is annoying and difficult to play against. Clearly, we need to be looking for good spots to do this vs isolators.

It should come as no surprise that the player pool in general likes to call preflop. Typically an isolation needs to be between .15 and .20 to get one or no callers. Anything .10 or less is guaranteed to start the calling cascade. It's also not too unusual to get more than one caller when 3Betting to anything less than .30

These aggressive isolators I'm trying to target don't seem to like to fold much either. Granted I have not been aggressively testing the 3Betting waters with them and do not have HUD stats (WSOP.com), but I'd guess their overall fold frequency to be less than 50%. I have noticed and taken notes on a few players who seem to vary their raise sizes with the strength of their hand. (I'll admit I've been guilty of this too. If you're in a total fish tank, why not create the exact situation you want for your hand?) Another key tendency I've noticed: they all seem to CBet too much. It's rare to see them check on the flop after raising pre.

Buyins are capped at 100BB and many players have stacks between 50 and 90 BB. Even vs a 100BB stack, the large raise sizes needed create very shallow SPRs quickly. How should our preflop ranges adjust for this?

My first thought is to use a more merged 3Betting range. If we're likely seeing a flop with a low SPR, we want to be in it with a strong range. Facing players who don't like to fold, we counter by removing bluffs and more hands will become value bets.

If we notice a player who is folding a lot to our 3Bets, does it make sense to begin to polarize our range? Logically, we want to add in more bluffs to take advantage of the fold equity we have, but do we really want to enter low SPR pots with hands like suited connectors, gappers, or suited Aces? Would it be better to 3Bet junkier hands that we don't mind folding if we face a 4Bet or get called and whiff the flop? What should we do with the rest of our merged range (hands like middle or weak suited broadway)?

The other issues I'm running into are how position and other players left to act affect our ranges. If we're on the button, it seems like we would want a polarized 3Betting range and a wide calling range. Why not play in position with post flop maneuverability?

Trickier situations are when we're in middle or middle-late position facing an isolation raise. The call happy nature of most players makes me think we want a very narrow calling range and a merged 3Betting range. We don't want to be middle to act in a bloated multi-way pot. And I can hear Doug Hull's voice: "Our tools of aggression are greatly diminished in multiway pots."

Thoughts, comments, questions, similar experiences? Logic/Sanity checks are always welcome.

When I say merged range, I'm thinking of something like this:

AA-88,AKo-AQo,AKs-ATs,KQs-KTs,QJs-QTs,JTs,T9s

TLDR: Isolation raises are becoming common. What are the specifics that go into crafting our strategy to make these players hate life?
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Comments

  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭✭
    AlpineCurt wrote: »
    Coaches of RedChip, your advice is being heeded by the player pool. In the games I'm playing, (micros on WSOP.com) I'm noticing more and more players raising large over limpers and it's becoming more difficult to target limpers myself. I'm trying to put together a counter strategy to these aggressive isolators. Here's my thought process and the issues I'm having trouble solving.

    [...]

    Buyins are capped at 100BB and many players have stacks between 50 and 90 BB. Even vs a 100BB stack, the large raise sizes needed create very shallow SPRs quickly. How should our preflop ranges adjust for this?

    If they bomb limpers - I guess a ~ 20BB raise ? - , then don't try to make a small 3bet. As you pointed out, they don't fold that much (too good of a price for a hand they are able to raise in the first place) and SPR will be shallow.

    Just shove on their face.

    Beware: some will bomb limpers with a too loose of a range (like A8s or KTs). Some will just over-size bet with premium hands (JJ+). To make the difference: look for frequency of bombing limpers.
  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 3,984 -
    Red wrote: »
    Just shove on their face.

    This was my first consideration as well. Do a little math work with a 100bb risk to pick up Xbb pots (where X = pot size AFTER their isolation) and see how things pan out. You can use my spreadsheet (the All-In EV one) and play around with the following variables:
    • Tight vs wide isolation ranges
    • Tight vs wide call-vs-shove ranges
    • Different hand types that you could have (and how that impacts your equity against both tight and wide calling ranges)
    • If anyone behind is likely to call (then you could use the Multiway EV sheet)
    AlpineCurt wrote: »
    ...Granted I have not been aggressively testing the 3Betting waters with them...
    Most players fall into this category, so you certainly aren't alone. Part of why the math exploration is so helpful is because it will give you the confidence to pull triggers at the right times.

    PS. Your exploration doesn't end with shoving fwiw. But starting with a shove (since it builds preflop commitment into the equation) is hugely beneficial in the longrun and also helps you determine if any options can be deleted (e.g. if shove is +EV, then you aren't folding.)
  • AlpineCurtAlpineCurt Red Chipper Posts: 48 ✭✭
    Thanks for the feedback! Downloaded the spreadsheets. I now feel like I'm in one of your YouTube videos. :P

    @Red I like your suggestion. Shoving preflop over raises does generate a lot of folds, even at the micros. Some players seem to do this a lot for the lulz or after taking a bad beat. Always fun to snap them off with a strong holding.

    Another super common situation: I'll be 100-150BB effective vs an isolator, who is raising between 6-10BB two or three times an orbit over limpers. Once again, a sizable 3Bet quickly creates a pretty shallow SPR. This brings up another question I've been wondering:

    Any arguments for not intentionally creating a large pot (low SPR) vs a calling range that your holding does well against? Especially if they're calling out of position on us? We'd be putting our self in a (reletively) simple poker math decision: on the flop, are we committed with our equity? Is this a bad approach to take?

    I guess I just have to start test 3Betting them to see what they'll call with and what their tendencies are post flop.
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭✭
    AlpineCurt wrote: »
    @Red I like your suggestion. Shoving preflop over raises does generate a lot of folds, even at the micros. Some players seem to do this a lot for the lulz or after taking a bad beat. Always fun to snap them off with a strong holding.
    Just watch out for stack depth. Shoving is the best here because the stacks you presented are shallow and any other option is suboptimal. As soon as stacks are bigger, shoving would be taking a too big of a risk for the expected reward. (Play with Splitsuit sheet to see)

    That's the case here :
    AlpineCurt wrote: »
    Another super common situation: I'll be 100-150BB effective vs an isolator, who is raising between 6-10BB two or three times an orbit over limpers. Once again, a sizable 3Bet quickly creates a pretty shallow SPR. This brings up another question I've been wondering:

    Any arguments for not intentionally creating a large pot (low SPR) vs a calling range that your holding does well against? Especially if they're calling out of position on us? We'd be putting our self in a (reletively) simple poker math decision: on the flop, are we committed with our equity? Is this a bad approach to take?

    Now you can't shove anymore. Putting a 100-150BB shove over a 10BB open is at best suboptimal.

    Now 3betting is the right answer, to 25-45 BB depending on opening bet size, position, limpers, table dynamic, etc.
    What you have to think in advance is:
    - how often can we scoop preflop ? (More we can, looser we can bet - to ATC if they fold way too often).
    - if they give action, what should be our range (aka not in a vacuum but in these specific spots) that we will be happily playing for stacks postflop in a 1-3 SPR pot ?
  • SullySully Red Chipper Posts: 768 ✭✭✭
    edited April 18
    Another suggestion:

    I am a aggressive isolator. i just noticed that a player who likes to be to my left switched it up recently and started to move to my direct right. He is a young kid with a group of friends that play and they all started doing it.

    Now what happens is they are putting the big iso in before I get a chance. I can't call that much so I am left with 3betting. Even widening my linear 3bet range I am playing less hands and nowhere near as many isos which are bread butter

    It is aggravating. Though mixing in a few AA,KK flats has helped :)
  • AlpineCurtAlpineCurt Red Chipper Posts: 48 ✭✭
    @Sully This is a great point. I've also noticed when I'm out of position vs other isolators, it's actually easier. They seem to shut down more as I'm stealing their opportunities vs limpers. It just seems like there's a great opportunity being in position against these players. I imagine most will have a tougher time adjusting to an even more aggressive player to their left.
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭✭
    It's because such isolators are bad and unprepared to fight. They are just raising because others are weak and fold too much... but at the end such isolators don't have an aggro winning strategy, they just know how to throw chips.

    Please, come sit on my right. Then we talk again.


    This works with the right of any barely competent player. Trust me, the right of any rather smart aggro player is the last place you want to be.
  • SullySully Red Chipper Posts: 768 ✭✭✭
    edited April 19
    Red wrote: »
    It's because such isolators are bad and unprepared to fight. They are just raising because others are weak and fold too much... but at the end such isolators don't have an aggro winning strategy, they just know how to throw chips.

    Please, come sit on my right. Then we talk again.


    This works with the right of any barely competent player. Trust me, the right of any rather smart aggro player is the last place you want to be.

    Having relative position comes with many of it's own strategies. Something you have to learn when everyone is moving to your left. Being on my left may not be as much fun as you think it is.
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭✭
    How do you have relative position to someone on your left? You'll always play out of position against him, except when you have the button
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,962 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The answer to an unbalanced laying of prices is another round of the same.
  • AlpineCurtAlpineCurt Red Chipper Posts: 48 ✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    The answer to an unbalanced laying of prices is another round of the same.

    Condensed way of saying, "If they call too much, look to frequently value bet thin for a large amount" or "if they're raising and CBetting too much, look to stick around or attack"?
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 2,013 -
    Red wrote: »
    How do you have relative position to someone on your left? You'll always play out of position against him, except when you have the button

    I think the idea is that with the aggressive player to you left you always have position on the table, since the aggressive player is the most likely to take the first aggressive action on each street.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,962 ✭✭✭✭✭
    AlpineCurt wrote: »
    persuadeo wrote: »
    The answer to an unbalanced laying of prices is another round of the same.

    Condensed way of saying, "If they call too much, look to frequently value bet thin for a large amount" or "if they're raising and CBetting too much, look to stick around or attack"?

    Close enough. You're describing some of the practical applications of what must be first understood.

    If a player is "overisolating," let's call it, that range will be stretched to a breaking point. Either its bottom pole will be too wide or too composed of linear value, which always trails off into garbage (consider our brave thread in this forum about how Q9o was some sort of slam dunk VPIP). Either way, it can and should be attacked.

    It sounds like I am advocating four betting more, and I am, but that isn't the only form of resistance. Calling more (and yes, protecting those calls) and playing more and more low spr pots, and making more and more close decisions is part of a tougher style of play.

    It's interesting, the act of raising and betting. There are rewards to this risk. The reason these players are creating problems for you is that their risk does have rewards - ultimately you have to sort of see through what is going on here, which is always price x frequency.
  • AlpineCurtAlpineCurt Red Chipper Posts: 48 ✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    If a player is "overisolating," let's call it, that range will be stretched to a breaking point. Either its bottom pole will be too wide or too composed of linear value, which always trails off into garbage

    I figure the starting point is being prepared to lose several buy-ins for "research and development" costs testing this breaking point in their range. Gotta find out what the player pool (or even individual players) likes to do with all these extra hands vs 3Bets.
    persuadeo wrote: »
    ...and making more and more close decisions is part of a tougher style of play...

    ...ultimately you have to sort of see through what is going on here, which is always price x frequency.

    These are going to occupy my idle thoughts at work for the foreseeable future.
  • SullySully Red Chipper Posts: 768 ✭✭✭
    Red wrote: »
    How do you have relative position to someone on your left? You'll always play out of position against him, except when you have the button

    Google "relative position in poker"

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