Don’t Steal, Plan a Heist

Posted on August 28, 2013


A guide to successful steals

In a short handed  game, you are dealt 6 hands in each orbit; 2 of which you will be in the blinds; Assuming we are folding all of our hands it means that each orbit will cost us 1.5bbs or 0.25bb/hand or 25bb/100 hands. For explanation purposes, say we fold all our hands and only play from the CO and BTN where we raise 3bbs to steal the blinds and give up each time we get called or 3bet , then our steals need to pass 60% of the time to breakeven in each orbit

When we steal we risk 3bbs to win 1.5bbs
(0.6 x 4.5) + (0.4 x -3) = 1.5

This just shows how important it is to defend our blinds or ‘steal’ the blinds ourselves. But it also shows how important it is to pick our spots to increase our rate of success.

This post will look at steal spots, explain the math behinds steals, and steal sizing to manipulate the success rate to our favor. Blind defense, however, will not be tackled in this post.

What is the breakeven point of a Steal?

When we open the pot for 3bbs we risk 3bbs to win 1.5bbs; we put in 3bbs in the pot to win back our 3bbs + the blinds (the SB+BB) so we have:
3/(1.5+3) = 0.67 or 67%

When we steal we need our opponent to fold > 67% of the time to show an immediate profit* on our steals.

*by immediate profit we mean that when they fold we win and when they call we lose; ofcourse that is not the real case because we will often win the pot by a cbet IP when we do get called.

Manipulating success by different bet sizings

Now what if we steal with a 2.5bb bet? Again doing the same math we see:
2.5/(1.5+2.5) = 0.625 or 62.5%

So as you see, we can manipulate our success by a different bet sizing depending on our opponent’s stats!

Can you guess how much we need our opponent to fold if we min-open?

It’s folded to us OTB with Jc7c, we look to our left and we notice that both the blinds are TAGs with a Fold to Steal of 70%. Can we expect an immediate profit on our steal?

Answer: No

Why you ask? We just said that we need our opponent to fold >67% of the time to make a profit on our steal; yet these guys have 70% fold to steal but we still can’t expect to show an immediate profit?

The explanation to that is our steal has to go through two opponents and not just one, so we need both opponents to fold to show an immediate profit.

Let’s consider the A to be the action the SB folds and B to be the action the BB folds, to show an immediate profit we need both A and B to fold or:

P(A ∩ B) = P(A) x P(B)
= 0.7 x 0.7
= 0.49

So our steal will go through only roughly 50% of the time!

What does this all mean?

Here’s a chart to show you what we can expect against different opponent fold to steal stats and our betsizing from the BTN

Betsizing P(A ∩ B) P(A) P(B)
3x 67% 82% 82%
2.5x 62.5% 79% 79%
2.2x 60% 78% 78%
2x 57% 76% 76%

The success rate can be adjusted ofcourse if one opponent has higher that 78% and the other opponent has lower than 78% fold to steal; So forexample, if SB has a fold to steal of 80% and the BB has a fold to steal of 75% then we can use a 2.2x steal open to show an immediate profit 60% of the time against both opponents.

How can we use this information?

One thing you can do with this information is go to your poker tracking software and see how much the average player at your level folds to steals. Then decide on a steal sizing accordingly and reassess your opening range from the BTN!

I hope you find this information helpful to increase your steal success and win rate!

Happy stealing everyone! 😉

GL at the tables!

Posted in: Strategy