Home / Grand Tour / Early Game – Opening the CO and BU

Early Game – Opening the CO and BU

June 12, 2020
by Pete Clarke

We have now completed our journey through the late and mid-stages of a Grand Tour where stacks fly in left right and centre. Today we navigate the more cautious approach of the CO and BU players when they get to open the pot for a small raise at the starting stack depth of 20BB. Although some players do it, reverting to a push or fold game at this stack depth is very unadvisable.

How Big to Raise

The theoretical solution here would be to min open. By putting the least amount of chips at stake, you get to steal some blinds and isolate the player in the big blind without losing much when you choose to fold to an all-in. There is one key fact about the Grand Tour field, however, that causes us to want to raise a bit bigger – they like to see flops!

Seeing flops a bit lighter than in a cash game or even a standard SNG can be correct in Grand Tour when you cover opponents – remember bounties are king. However, many players, especially those who start the race at low buy-in levels, tend to take the calling to the extreme. For this reason, we are going with a 2.5BB raise today from the BU and CO. If your opponents are playing a more solid game and are not calling opens with wide ranges, then a min-open will be better.

Our aim from these positions is mainly to thin the field and play pots against the big blind with a range and positional advantage over him. The big blind will have to defend a lot given the pots odds he will be getting. Our goal is to win some small and medium sized pots in order to gain the largest stack at the table. From this position we get to play aggressively as we have seen throughout this series so far.

Opening the CO with the Chip Lead

When you’re in the CO and you cover the rest of the table, you can open a lot wider than when they cover you. You will face far less all-in assaults when you are covering the field as they have less to gain by busting you. When all players have equal stacks, and everyone has a chance of busting everyone else, you should open the CO to 2.5BB with this range:

Opening the CO when Covered

But when you are slightly covered by two of the three opponents, your range should shrink to the following hands. The draker grey hands with the white text are ones we had to drop from the previous range due to having the stack-size disadvantage.

Facing a Jam from the Blinds

Our opponents’ most common way of continuing vs. our opens will be to call or shove. If the SB or BB decide to shove on us after we have opened these ranges, how should we react? Again, it depends on whether we are covered. In the next two figures, we are calling the hands in green, folding the hands in red, and not opening the grey hands in the first place:

Facing a Jam from the Blinds When Covering

Facing a Jam from the Blinds When Covered

As expected, this range does a lot more folding.

Opening the BU when Covering

Our BU range is, needless to say, much wider than the one we opened in the CO. We now have position on all opponents. Wen should open the BU with the following hands; again; calling the ones in green to a shove and folding the ones in red:

Opening the BU when Covered

And when covered this is our strategy:

Exploitative Considerations

These charts are merely a guide. There are many times when we need to deviate from them in order to capitalise on our opponent’s mistakes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Steal a little wider from all positions at all stack coverages when you are in a final. Players tend to play more cautiously due to the big money at stake.
  • Steal wider vs. people who fold too much and drop the bottom of the opening range against shove-happy opponents.
  • Raise larger than 2.5x on very sticky tables where there is a lot of limping and cold-calling going on.
  • Drop your open-sizing down to a min-raise against shove-happy or tight opponents.
  • Look out for short stacks up ahead. You want to open the pot wider when you cover them due to the chance of getting their bounty.


Test your knowledge with our short quiz below

Study Poker with Pokerstars Learn, practice with the PokerStars app