i was thinking about starting it i was wondering if i should use my actual max or use a weight 10 or 15 pounds less
It always better to start on the safe side!
Go for 15 pounds less
Just curious, why not run the full Smolov base cycle? If you need to get into shape before starting, there is a Smolov introductory micro cycle you can run before starting the base cycle. Also, I disagree on underestimating your max. Test your max the week before and use that or run the micro cycle. You don’t want to short change yourself if you are going to run a difficult program. The program is designed to use your true max to calculate the weights.
You should run the Base Mesocycle, using your true max for your poundage. I have run several cycles of Smolov and a few times I decided to ‘play it safe’. It always ended up with me not getting as much out of it poundage wise as I wished. It will be very difficult but most certainly beneficial in the long run