We’ve finally moved out of the under the gun positions and into the LoJack position – does this mean we can finally throw off the shackles and start raising a wider range? Well, yes and no. While we can open a wider range than we could in the Under the Gun positions, we still need to consider our likely postflop position as well as the five players left to act behind us.
We’ll be taking you through how you should be playing from the LoJack, how to construct your LJ opening range, and how you should adjust your LJ opening range based on how your table is playing, so read on to find out more.
What is the LoJack Position?
The Lojack position is the positon to the left of the Under the Gun+2 position and to the right of the HiJack position. At a 6-handed table, the LoJack position is often referred to as “Under The Gun” and is the first position to act preflop. However, at a nine-handed table, the LoJack is the fourth position to act preflop.
How Should You Play From the LoJack?
As we’ve moved away from the Under the Gun positions, we can start to open up our preflop raising range and play a wider range of hands. There are five players left to act behind us, which means that while we’re still likely to be out of position postflop, it doesn’t happen as often as it would when raising from early position.
It also means that the likelihood of a player behind us having a strong hand has decreased even further, so while we still need to take that into consideration, it’s not as much of a factor as it was from the Under the Gun positions.
However, that being said, we can’t go crazy and start opening twice as many hands as UTG+2 – we still need to be relatively conservating with our opening range until we get closer to the button.
How Do We Construct a LoJack Opening Range?
So, what hands should we be putting in our LoJack opening range if we want to raise a wider range than UTG+2, without going too crazy? Well, let’s start with our UTG+2 range that we can use as a baseline, and see what hands we want to add to it.
The UTG+2 opening range is one of the harder ones to build upon compared to the earlier ranges, as there are no obvious gaps that can be filled to increase your raise percentage. This means we need to make some value judgements and really think about what the best hands are to include in this range.
For example, would you include QTo in this range or A9o? Which hand do you think is better to include? When decisions are this close, there aren’t any correct answers, it comes down to which hands you’ll feel most comfortable playing postflop. Would you prefer to play with a weak Ax hand or a medium-strength broadway hand? Both have their pros and cons, but take some time to consider which hands you’d prefer to play.
We see the same dilemma on the suited side of the matrix – would you rather play a hand like K8s or 97s? Both are good hands in their own right with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, so an argument can be made for either of them to be included.
When deciding which hands to include, you should consider how these hands play postflop, and what you’re more comfortable dealing with. If you choose a hand like K8s, you’re going to make top pair more often, but it’s going to be a weak top pair that’s often out-kicked if your opponent has it too. However, if you play a hand like 97s, you’ll often make middling/weak pairs, but will also have strong draws and strong made hands like straights and flushes.
LoJack Base Opening Range
At a nine-handed cash game table with 100bb, we recommend that your baseline LoJack range should look something like this:
22.47% – 22+, A2s+, K8s+, QTs+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, 54s, A9o+, KTo+, QJo
We’ve seen a jump of 4% from UTG+2 to LJ, almost double the increase we saw from UTG+1 to UTG+2. As we start to move closer to the button, we’ll see these percentages increase more dramatically, but this is the first time we see a real significant shift between the opening ranges.
As you can see, we stick to the previous UTG+2 opening range, but add a few more hands that become profitable from this position. Depending on your preference, you may choose to remove some hands from this range and add some others. For example, you could replace A9o with QTo or JTo, or you could swap a hand like K8s for 97s or 43s.
The key is to keep that balance between hands that are capable of making good top-pair hands, and the more speculative hands that often make weak hands, but can occasionally make strong hands like straights and flushes. If we start to include too many speculative hands from this position, we’ll find ourselves being exploited by our opponents.
While the preflop disadvantages of the Under the Gun positions are less prevalent in the LoJack, they haven’t been removed entirely, and we still need to consider the possibility of our opponents having a strong hand behind us. As we move to the positions closer to the button, you’ll see an increase in these speculative hands, but for now, we still need to stick to a solid opening range.
Adjusting Your Range
We’ve talked a fair bit in this article about how you should adjust our suggested range to eliminate hands you’d be uncomfortable playing postflop and include those that you would be comfortable with, but there are other reasons why you should adjust your preflop ranges.
If your table is playing significantly tighter or looser than average, you should be adjusting your opening ranges to exploit your opponents. If you’re not, you’re leaving money on the table that could be yours if you take the time to make the necessary exploits.
How You Should Adjust at a Tight Table?
When a table is playing too tight, the best way to exploit them is to increase your opening range to steal the blinds more often. Stealing the blinds one extra time per orbit might now sound like much, but it adds up to an extra 16.5bb per 100 hands, giving you a significant boost to your win rate.
As we’re starting to get closer to the button, we don’t have to be as concerned about a player waking up with a big hand behind us, so we don’t have to be as conservative as we were from the Under the Gun positions. We’d recommend adding a few percentage points to your range to get it closer to 30% than 22%, but the exact numbers should depend on how tight your table is playing.
If they’re playing a little bit tighter than average, then just add in a couple more hands to take advantage of that. However, if they’re playing significantly tighter than average, you want to try and exploit that as much as possible, without going overboard, so get that opening range up.
How You Should Adjust at a Loose Table?
On the other hand, if you’re playing at a loose table, you’ll want to start removing the weakest parts of your range and focus on playing hands that frequently make strong, showdownable hands. This is the first position where we have to start removing hands from our range, as we’re playing more hands than we did from the Under the Gun positions, and there are a number of weaker hands in our range that don’t perform as well multi-way.
Hands like K8s, A9o, KTo, etc. all struggle when playing in multi-way pots, as the pairs they make are good, but not great, making it easy to lose a big pot against someone with a better top pair hand. We want to condense our range to the strongest hands that perform well when they make top pair, as well as some speculative hands that perform well multi-way.
Hands like AJ, AQ, AK, and KQ make far better top pair hands than A9o and KTo, as they’re very rarely out-kicked when you do make top pair. We’d also prefer playing speculative hands like 54s and 65s, as they can make straights as well as flushes, and make for a well-disguised two pair/trips hand that can win you a big pot against a loose opponent with top pair.
As we’re moving away from the Under the Gun positions, we can start to expand our opening range and start playing more hands. However, we’ve still got five opponents after us to think about, and we’re still likely to be out of position postflop, so we can’t go too crazy when constructing our range.
We need to find a healthy balance between opening a wider range, while still playing mainly strong hands that will keep a lot of their value postflop. So, while it’s tempting to start adding dozens of hands to your opening range, we still need to play conservatively until we get closer to the button.