Today we’ll be talking about an issue that a lot of players face and is a very common spot in tournament play. The spot we’re talking about is when you have to defend your big blind with a stack of less than 20BBs against a late position open raiser.
Firstly, since the raiser has a stronger preflop range and your range is weak and capped because you flat called from the big blind, you should check back the flop a majority of times. Also, now given that both player’s ranges are wide, you should call against a C-bet with many hands, including something like two overcards and a backdoor. Domination of your one pair hands should be less of a concern since the stacks are so shallow.
Blockers play a huge role in such situations, always pay close attention to them. When a card you hold is a blocker to a possible strong hand that the Villain could hold, you should most likely be continuing against their aggression. For example, if it takes two cards to make a straight and you hold one of those cards, it makes it more difficult for your opponent to have a straight. Usually, you must be looking to check-raise against the C-bets with two categories of hands: low equity backdoor draws (that you would fold to an all-in), and high equity made hands (that you would call versus an all-in).
In simpler terms, your check-raising range should be polarised between weaker and stronger hands and must not include medium strength hands that would be put in a tough spot if you face an all-in. Another important thing to keep in mind is this: when you do check-raise and the Villain calls, make sure you size your turn bet properly so that you are left with another meaningful bet behind for the river! On such shallow stacks, you should always plan ahead to make sure both your turn and river bets make the best use of your remaining chips.
Finally, do not be afraid of using small bet sizing when you’re out-of-position on the river with some strong and medium strength hands as well as a few bluffs like a blocker bet or value bets. You’ll often be able to extract some additional value from your opponent with this sizing!