Back to Basics in HUNL: An argument against opening 100% otb vs an unknown

 photo sebkarlsson: 400nl-1knl HU & 6 max CG player. I travel and am into food, so most of my posts are about that! :)
Hi guys, So in my recent coaching when one of my students asked me about auto-profiting preflop that I didn't have enough certainty on this subject. I started questioning this and researching online. I found quite a few surprises that you may find interesting/beneficial.

For those that don't know me I'm a HU CG pro playing up to nl1k.

When questioning what I should be doing vs unknowns as a default opening range, I was amazed to find that one of most prolific HUNL coaches says the following in one of his videos: "Keep in mind that if somebody is folding more than 35% of hands (in the bb)...you can open any two profitably". This is almost the opposite of what is true when we are talking about the preflop goal of auto-profiting. He recommends always opening 100% as a default. 

Opening 100% from the sb in HUNL is the standard these days. With no postflop considerations for this to be an auto-profit scenario for you villain needs to be folding:

vs 3x     62.5%

vs 2.5x  57%

vs 2x     50%

In my experience the population average (from nearly 4yrs of playing HUNL for a living) does not give you an auto-profit situation and your edge usually comes from post flop adjustments to their tendencies. 

A strategy website said this: "On the button holding a hand like T3o seems like a fold, but we should open this hand heads-up. This is because our opponent in the Big Blind is juhst [sic] as likely to have a none-playable hand". Again this is not true if villain is calling more than the break-even frequency preflop as above. In fact they will be playing with a stronger range, albeit oop with usually >5% less equity due to being out-of-position. 

So by opening 100% what are we trying to achieve? We're looking to profit by getting the bb to fold enough of the time and by gaining information quickly. Ask yourself: is your average villain folding as frequently as the above percentages? If not then what about gathering info quickly? Is it more important than playing, say the bottom 25% instead of folding them? I don't think so, you will get that information soon enough anyway. 

I propose that giving up your 0.5bb otb with the most unplayable hands is closer to optimal vs an unknown. Here's what 75% looks like: 


Sure, you are now losing 0.5bb with the bottom 25%. But you are also not putting in an extra 1.5-2.5bb with hands that play terribly. If you are facing a reg then he is more likely to 3b you at the start of a match and a recreational player will mostly call you more than your auto-profit percentage and may or may not call, but it will cost you your opening bet and a cb at least to find out. 

I've discussed this with other HU pro friends and after initially disagreeing, they changed their minds for their opening range. Of course you should be adjusting as soon as you have more info, then might find 100% is correct vs this villain. 

I welcome any thoughts and arguments for/against. 

Credit goes to @solidthought for making me think of this and @yourdoompoker for the maths. 

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