This guide is essential for our strategic outlook when playing in the LJ (lojack). We’ll select examples from NLHE cash games, but many of the concepts will translate into other formats such as tournaments or PLO.
Put simply, players should not expect to generate a large amount of profit from this seat. The name of the game here is waiting from premium holdings and not getting out of line.
The Lojack – An Overview
Let’s recap on the key features of the LJ (lojack).
- The earliest position in SH (short-handed)
- Heavily limited access to the blinds due to the presence of the HJ (hijack), CO (cutoff) and BTN (button).
- Full-ring: Faces very strong open raising ranges (lojack and earlier)
- Acts sixth from last preflop (our cold calls can easily get overcalled or squeezed).
- We are very likely to be out of position postflop
When allowed to open-raise (100% of the time in SH games), good players look to play around 13% of holdings from this position. It’s difficult to play more aggressively than this due to the ever-present threat of 3bets and cold calls from the HJ, CO and BTN.
It’s also difficult to play too aggressively in this scenario however since –
- Our cold calls can easily get squeezed or overcalled by the HJ, CO, BTN, SB (small blind) or BB (big blind).
- Even if we 3bet the HJ, CO, BTN, SB, or BB may decide to cold-4bet preflop.
- Since we are playing against MP1 (1st middle position) and earlier, we are typically facing a relatively strong opening range.
Strategic Outlook in the LJ
Understand that we are not involved in the action unless we pick up a premium.
Recommended average cold call frequency: Around 4%
Recommended average 3bet frequency: Around 4%
Recommended raise first in frequency: Around 13%
(Remember that these stats account for a range of different open sizings)
Sample Ranges From the LOJACK
LJ Defence vs Early Open
Purple: Re-raise (3bet) range
Blue: Cold calling range
To keep things simple, we will assume that our defending strategy doesn’t change too much depending on the position of the opener. Although it’s true that our defending range won’t change a lot when facing different positions, we should technically play wider vs later positions.
This graph represents a sample range for defending against an early position 3bb open-raise. If our opponent open raises smaller, we should protect wider, but more on that later. Note that the 3bet (re-raise) range is heavily-weighted towards high equity holdings. It makes sense, not to 3bet bluff speculative holdings in the majority of games since players are not folding as much as they are supposed to when facing 3bets.
LJ Raise-First-In Range
“Raise-first-in” means to open-raise preflop after it gets folded around to us. It’s critical to strike an appropriate balance between aggression and reservedness in this seat. Our chance of being able to pick up the blinds is low, but certainly not non-existent.
This raising range works out at about 13% of holdings. If we push our aggression beyond this, good players behind may find ways to exploit our strategy.
Having said that, if there are weaker players or big folders behind, some expansion to this default 13% range could be prudent. It’s unlikely the range should ever be wider than about 18%, however, except in extreme circumstances.
LJ vs Blinds 3bet
When open raising from the LJ we are absolutely going to run into 3bets. Our response will depend on whether the 3bet comes from the blinds or the BTN/CO/HJ. The following sample range gives us an idea regarding what we should call and what we should re-raise (4bet) when facing a 3bet from the blinds.
Blue = Call vs 3bet
Purple = Re-raise (4bet) vs 3bet
Note that we tend towards re-raise (4betting) with high-equity hands only. 4bet bluffing is not incentivised in most environments since the average Villain does not fold as much as they are supposed to vs 4bets. Assuming the 3better is on the BTN/CO rather than in the blinds, we should look to respond with a tighter range.
Blue = Call vs 3bet
Purple = Re-raise (4bet) vs 3bet
It’s essential to understand that the sample ranges should be used as a rough guide rather than a set rule. In practice, we will end up changing these defending ranges based on several variables. A good understanding of these variables will help us to make high-quality decisions on the fly.
Villain’s sizing – The larger our opponent’s open raise (or 3bet) sizing, the tighter we defend.
Formation – The later our opponent’s position, the wider we can defend. We’ll be defending a tight range either way in the lojack, however.
Reads – E.g. our opponent folds too much to 3bets/4bets, we can 3bet/4bet more aggressively.
Villain skill - If our opponent is a bad player, we can play more hands in general. Expansion from the lojack will be limited either way.
Open raises – If the players behind fold too much or are weak players, we can slightly expand our raise-first-in range.
Iso-Raising – This situation is where we raise from the LJ when facing an open-limp. Since there are five players still to act behind us, we can only push our iso-raising strategy so wide even if we think Villain is a highly profitable target.
Our iso-raising range will be somewhat similar to our raise-first-in range from this seat but weighted more towards high-equity holdings.
Note: iso raising from this seat is only possible in a full-ring game since it is the earliest position in short-handed games.
Iso-raise – A preflop raise made against a limper..
Overcalling/Squeezing – Overcalling and squeezing are terms which refer to 3-way scenarios. When facing two opponents, we generally prefer to 3bet (squeeze) a tighter range and weight our calls (overcalls) towards speculative hands with good suited/connected potential.
Note: squeezing and overcalling from this spot is ONLY possible on full ring tables.
Overcall – A call after a player has already called before us on the current street.
Squeeze – A 3bet made after there has already been at least one caller vs an open raise.
Purple: Re-raise (squeeze) rangeFor the sake of comparison here is what a LJ squeezing/overcalling range might look like when facing an early position open (FR) and call.
Blue: Overcalling range