Restealing in Poker

Today’s games have become quite aggressive and blind stealing is now common practice. When a player makes a steal attempt, restealing means raising back into the original raiser as a bluff. In No-Limit Texas Hold’Em poker tournaments re-stealing is an extremely powerful tool for building your chip stack. By taking advantage of the aggressive nature of your opponents in steal situations you can increase your expected winrate in tournaments significantly.

Restealing – Choosing the correct opponent

As you will be making resteals with weak hands, it is important that you recognise good situations for this play. You need to make sure that the original raiser has the characteristics needed to make a resteal the correct play.

So who is the correct player to try this against? Essentially you need an opponent that you have a lot of fold equity against. It’s no good trying to make this play against a maniac who will call it off with any two cards.

Usually players who are aggressive in late position and like to steal a lot of blinds will be great candidates. You are looking for players that have a wide opening range AND a high fold to 3bet percentage.

Pay attention to stack size and bet size

So you are on the button with 76s and the cut-off, who steals aggressively and also folds to 3 bets often, raises it to 3 big blinds. Is this a great spot for a resteal? That depends greatly on the remaining stacks sizes.

If the cut-off only has 6 big blinds left after his raise then a resteal is definitely not a good idea. If you shove and put him all in he is going to have to call 6 big blinds to win 13.5 big blinds so you are giving him odds of 2.25 to 1 on his call. He will have to call with any hand he raised with so you should only raise for value in this situation.

What if the cut-off started with 20 big blinds? If you shove over his 3bb open then he will have to call 17bb to win 24.5bb so you are giving him 1.44 to 1 odds on his call. He will now have to fold the weaker part of his range which we know is quite wide. This will give you enough fold equity to make this play very profitable in the long run.

If you pay attention to stack sizes, bet sizes and the odds you are giving the original raiser you should be able to recognise the best situations for a resteal.

Your table image

Your current table image can be very important when making your decision. If your image is that of a very aggressive player then you should be less inclined to go for a resteal as your opponents will probably widen their calling range against you. Conversely if you have been nitting it up for the last hour then your aggression is more likely to get some respect and your opponents may tighten up their calling range (giving you more fold equity).

Any previous history you have with regulars can also alter your resteal strategy. If they know you as an aggressive restealer then you should balance your raising range accordingly and make sure you have plenty of value hands in your range as well as resteals.

The correct hands to resteal with

Restealing is largely situation dependent so if you recognise a great spot for a resteal but have a raggy hand then it may still be correct to go for it. After all most of the equity gained by restealing comes from your fold equity not your hands equity.

However, you can’t resteal at every opportunity (barring a huge leak in your opponents play) so whenever possible you might as well try to pick a range of hands that have the best equity against your opponents calling range.

I’ll leave it up to you to play around with certain hands equities versus different ranges in PokerStove, but as a general rule it is preferable to have something that is suited or connected in some way. For example it is much better to have 75s than 83o.

The stage of the tournament

Paying attention to what stage the tournament is at can have several benefits. One of them is that it will allow you to notice spots where your opponents are more likely to fold (thereby increasing your fold equity). When you get down to the bubble the small and medium stacks are even less likely to want to play a big hand against you if you have them covered. This can lead to some very profitable resteal opportunities if they are still trying to steal blinds.

Defending against opponents who resteal

What can you do if your opponents are using this play against you?  The first thing you can do is recognise situations where your steal is likely to attract a resteal due to stack sizes. If you are on the button with 18 big blind effective stacks and are considering stealing the blinds, you should consider the possibility of one of the blinds restealing because the stack sizes are perfect for it. (Remember the example before where the cut-off opened and you went for a resteal with 20bb stacks)

You can also try altering your raise size to make restealing less appealing to your opponents. Decreasing your raise size will mean it has to work less often for you to show a profit, and your opponent will win a smaller pot by re-raising. Making your raise much larger will make you pot committed so your opponents will be forced to cut bluffs out of their range.