We have all heard about 3-betting bigger out of position and smaller in position, but there are two factors in the theory of 3-betting which affect how big we should go. Position is one of them and range shape is the other. Let’s focus on this less discussed factor today. How does the sort of range we’ll be 3-betting affect the sizing we should choose? And how do we determine the shape of our 3-bet range in the first place?
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- In this range, you would be 3-betting QQ, AKo, AK, AKs and AA for value, planning to 5-bet all in against a 4-bet. You would be 3-betting A2s–A5s as a bluff, and planning on folding to a 4-bet. In this situation, you have 16 combos of hands that are bluffs, and 34 that are value, which is a good range for beginners to become more comfortable.
- There are some hands that you are always going to be three betting with, which include AA, KK, and usually QQ. The cut off range is formed in this area, with AK and JJ being borderline and dependent upon the exact situation. In order to most effectively define ideal three betting ranges, we are going to look at some examples of JJ, QQ, and AK.
The position of the 3-bettor; Their 3-betting stats (range) – use poker tools to see that; Effective stacks; Competent players looking for 3-bet opportunities will first look into where the raise is coming from and player's vpip/pfr poker stats. If you’re raising from the button or cutoff, they know your range is much wider than if the. POSTED Jun 18, 2018 Peter Clarke aka carroters covers 3 different 3-betting strategies that include linear 3-betting, polar 3-betting, and mixed 3-betting.
A 3-Bet range might be linear or it might be polarised. What’s the difference?
3-Betting with a linear range means 3-betting AA and then all of the hands weaker than AA down to a certain hand which is deemed too weak to 3-Bet. It might look like [88+, all suited broadways, all suited aces, AJo+, KQo+, T9s, 98s] or in another spot it might be tighter and exclude the weaker hands in that range. Linear essentially means ‘no gaps’. When we’re 3-betting linear, we will never favour a weaker hand over a stronger one.
We 3-bet with a linear range under two circumstances:
- When we are not building a calling range against the open. In this case we are entering the pot with a 3-Bet or not at all. It would not make sense to choose to play a hand that is weaker than one we are folding, so we 3-bet from the top down.
- When Villain or population does not fold much to 3-bets. In this case we want to only increase the size of the pot for value and not for fold equity. 3-Bet bluffing is not advisable and so we 3-bet all and only those hands deemed good enough to be value 3-bets.
A polarised 3-Bet range is one that has a value component and a bluff component. These two groups of hands are separated by a calling range. Therefore, when we 3-bet polarised, we must have a calling range to serve as a buffer between value hands and bluffs. A polarised range might look like: [JJ+ AQs+ AKo, A2s-A5s T9s 98s 87s] in the most extreme example. If our range is purely polarised, then it means we are flatting the hands in between these two groups and folding all hands weaker than our 3-bet bluffs.
One more modern option is to play a mixed polarised range. This still entails having a chunk of very strong hands that you always 3-bet for value. The difference with this range is that some of the weaker hands get mixed between 3-betting and calling. This has the advantage of increasing the calibre of the bluffs, but the disadvantage of playing less hands overall. We only have a finite amount of space for bluffing in our strategy before it becomes too bluff heavy and exploitable. This might be okay against weaker players who fold too much, but is a concern against stronger opposition. So when we 3-bet A5s as a bluff, we have less room for K3s.
We opt for a polarised range when:
- We want to have a calling range
- We think Villain or population folds a decent amount of the time to 3-Bets.
The higher EV we think it is to call our medium strength hands, the less likely we are to turn them into 3-bet bluffs. When we are in position, then, BB vs a SB raise, we are very unlikely to 3-bet bluff any medium hands. A5s and the like will often just call because they are so profitable to flat and hate to get 4-bet off of their equity. Meanwhile, a hand like J4s which is around break even to flat is perfectly reasonable as a 3-bet bluff as we are not squandering much calling EV by 3-betting it instead.
Contrast this to a spot like BB vs UTG, where A5s is not a massively profitable call. In this spot we would mix the hand between 3-bet and call as both options are roughly equal in expectation and never dream of 3-betting Q4s. Thus, we are using a mixed polarised range BB vs UTG but a purely polarised range BB vs SB.
Linear Ranges want to Use Smaller Sizing
Generally speaking, big value hands increase their EV when they put more money into the pot. Medium strength hands, often called ‘tier 2 hands’, increase their EV by using a smaller sizing. The reason for this is that they do not want to filter out too many of the weaker hands in Villain’s continuing range to the 3-bet because these are the hands they dominate and perform well against. TT does not want to 3-Bet huge HJ vs UTG as there are still four uncapped ranges behind and TT will perform badly if it filters the UTG player too much.
Remember that Linear ranges are full of medium strength hands, and so they want to use a smaller size. I would 3-bet from 2.5BB to 7BB in position HJ vs UTG and from 2.5BB to 11BB out of position.
Polarised Ranges want to Use a Big Sizing
Remember, the big hands like AA, KK, QQ, and AK prefer to use a large size. The more money you can shovel into the pot with these hands, the better (unless stacks are short and building a big pot is unnecessary.) Since nutted hands are a significant part of a polarised range, polar ranges like betting bigger.
Bluffs rely on pre-flop fold equity to be profitable or break even, so when your range contains a sizable portion of very weak hands, you want to increase fold equity. Making a small 3-bet that would usually get called is not a good idea when you’re holding Q3s.
Since polarised ranges contain less medium strength hands, which prefer playing smaller pots against wider ranges, they have no reason to shy away from big sizing and every reason to utilise it.
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If I were 3-betting a polarised range in position, I would tend to go from 2.5BB to 9.5BB. Out of position I would go from 2.5BB to 12BB.
- Linear ranges 3-bet from the top down without a gap. We use them either when we’re not calling anything or when fold equity is low. They want to use a smaller sizing because they contain a lot of medium strength hands that strive to keep pots smaller.
- Polarised ranges 3-bet two distinct groups of hands: value hands which are very strong and like to build big pots and bluffs which seek fold equity. We choose a polar range when we have both a calling range and reasonable fold equity. Since polar ranges contain hands that like putting more money into the pot, and no medium strength hands, they like a big sizing.
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3-Betting Is A Very Strong Play In Poker Tournaments,
Our Beginners Guide Explains How To Use This Strategy Correctly
When someone raises in a poker game and another player re-raises – the intended message is usually loud and clear. Essentially the re-raiser is saying that they have a monster hand and are prepared to play a big pot. This second raise is known as a 3-bet, with the blinds being the first bet and initial raise the 2nd bet. As the game of poker has evolved this ‘massive strength’ message is not necessarily always true – in fact, players will often 3-bet with the intention of looking strong when their hand is actually weak.
Using 3 bets effectively and defending against 3 bettors is a complex area. In this article I will go through the basics of a solid re-raising strategy for beginning to intermediate players of online poker tournaments – showing some of the key factors to consider before you 3-bet.
First up I will explain why 3-bets are effective and then consider two extremes which show the need for balanced strategy, these are players who only ever re-raise with the very best hands, and those who re-raise too often. This will lead into a discussion on balancing your 3-bet ranges against different types of opponent. Next position at the table is covered, including why there is less advantage in balancing your ranges out of position, or against 'calling station' type opponents. Stack sizes and tournament situations (particularly the bubble) also make a huge difference to your re-raising strategy. I finish by summarizing the key points and pointing you in the direction of some very profitable tournaments!
3-Bets In Online Poker Tournaments – Why These Are Effective
Re-raises look (and often are) very strong. Say a player opens the pot with a 3 big blind raise and an opponent comes up with a 3-bet of 2.5 to 3 times the size of that raise… what can the initial raiser do with various hands he might have raised with?? Let me take an initial raising range of 15% which is not unreasonable for a mid to later position raise and we can have a look:
15% = Pairs 77 or higher, aces down to ace-seven suited or ace-10 unsuited, and many combinations of 2 picture cards.
When someone unknown puts in a big 3 bet they are representing JJ+ (at least) with A-Qs the smallest ace. Now, what could the initial raiser call with (out of position) and play profitably?
Of course this depends on stack sizes (the ability to try and hit trips with a pair when stacks are deep is key). In reality the only hands you might feel comfortable about playing are the very best ones – and if your opponent is willing to build a big pot it makes more sense to 4-bet those and get the money in pre-flop.
3-betting creates a really difficult situation for someone holding a marginal hand, they are forced to 4-bet or fold most of the time, and if they do call then this may just lead to more problems on the flop / turn betting rounds.
Having said this, a danger in lower level poker tournaments is that players are often inexperienced enough to flat call without either a plan or the correct implied odds. Those same players will call all the way to the river too if they have even a medium strength hand – I’ll put this important factor to one side for now, and return to it later in the article, after explaining some more of the 3-bet basics.
3-Betting In Poker Tournaments – Too Tight / Too Loose
Here are some common examples from lower buy-in poker tournaments. Firstly many playersonly ever re-raise with the very best hands, this can be QQ / AK+ or even KK+ only. Those same players often 3-bet small amounts – even the minimum, which tips off the field that they have a monster at the same time as giving the correct odds for everyone to call with speculative hands which can easily outflop premium holdings.
If this is you then this could very well be a reason your premium hands get cracked a little too often. If you identify a '3-bet nit' then your ideal counter strategy depends on stack sizes, if you have the odds to set-mine (for example) then this can be a very profitable spot!
How about the opposite? Some players re-raise with a huge range, I have seen players regularly do this with 20% + of their range (pairs, most aces and any 2-picture cards for example). This time things are often compounded by making the re-raise too big! This is very easy to exploit by flat calling in position, 4 betting for value with the top of your range. If the loose 3-bettor wants to play easily dominated hands out of position in a big pot you should encourage this – it will take a massive skill advantage for this to be profitable, and this type of player only rarely any advantage at all!
So, 3-betting too tight and 3-betting too often are both easily exploitable in tournament situations. Where is the balance point?
Mark's Tip: If you are not yet at the stage where you can spot the tight 3-bettors from the average or loose players I can recommend Tournament Shark from the Pro Poker Labs, this tool is approved by the major sites - and attaches to your table to let you know who are the good and bad players! See our Best Poker Tools page for more.
3-Betting In Poker Tournaments – Balanced Ranges Are Harder To Play Against
If you re-raise tight you will rarely be able to play big pots with premium hands, too loose and you’ll get 4-bet (or flatted) often – and have to fold those 10 to 12 big blind investments in the pot for the same reason many players will fold to 3-bets!
However, if your range of 3-betting hands is balanced you become very hard to play against. Lets take an easy example and say you 3-bet with the top 3% of hands, say 10-10+ and AK off, and also 3-bet bluff with an additional 3% of speculative hands including tiny pairs and suited connectors (though suited broadways could also be chosen).
By doing this you make it hard for opponents to 4-bet bluff, since you’ll have the goods a lot of the time. Since you are not always raising premiums it will also be a mistake for opponents (in a ‘Theory of Poker’ sense) to fold often to your reraise. What is more you will be playing tight enough to get respect on the flop and take down those extra pots when your opponent does not make a monster.
3-Betting In Online Poker Tournaments – Position, Opponent Types And Getting Flatted!
A constant risk in lower ($20 and under) buy-in poker tournaments is the novice who flat calls too often. I want to look at one particular situation which comes up a lot.
Say a loose early position player raises 3x, you 3-bet to 9x and *boom* a novice on the button flats – the original raiser folds and now you are heads-up in a big pot and first to act… nasty!
If you missed the flop, bet and get called you are in a difficult spot. Made worse by the fact that the type of player who flats in those situations is unlikely to be thinking about what you are representing with your 'strong' bets. They are playing their own cards only and will often not fold with any decent draw or part of the flop whatever the betting.
In this situation a balanced range loses much of its value.
3-betting in early position or from the blinds carries the additional ‘flatting’ risk. In fact if your opponents show a pattern of flatting 3-bets, even when you do have position, the number of your ‘balancing’ hands should go down. If you think you are likely to be flat called then tip the balance back in favor of those premium hands, then build the pot slowly to extract maximum chips from your passive 'cally' opponents.
3-Betting In Poker Tournaments – Stack Sizes And Bubbles
So far the discussion has assumed that players have enough chips for post-flop decisions. In a tournament this will not always be the case. This factor is complicated by the fact that there will often be a range of different stack sizes to play against. In tournament situations the effective stack size (the one we work with for math purposes) is the smallest in the hand.
Here are some situations in which stack sizes might affect your play:
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Your 3-bet can often commit you to call a 4-bet based on the pot-odds. For example if you start with 25 times the big blind, there is a raise of 3x and you make it 9x, including the blinds and antes there are now 14 blinds total in the pot, your opponent 4-bets (has you covered) and you now face a call of 16 times the big blind to win a pot of 39. That’s more than 2.3 to 1, meaning you only have to win the pot less than 30% of the time to break even! Even if you give your opponent a range of JJ+ for the 4-bet you can still call with the huge number of hands - around 15% in fact - what you have just done is priced yourself into the call.
With a stack of around 15 times the blinds, you have a good ‘resteal’ stack and can put pressure on raisers by 3-betting all in. Caution is required if there are several opponents still to act, if someone is aware of stack size dynamics they might overcall with a hand which crushes your looser range - since they know your stack is ideal for 3-betting light!
Big stacks at the table might be more inclined to play back, either by flatting or 4-betting a wider range. They have the chips to spare and can put huge pressure on you, particularly if you are 3-betting often. Smaller stacks can also be dangerous, these players might well call out of sheer desperation or needing a double up to have a viable chance of going deeper in the tournament.
Bubbles are great times to 3-bet. This could be the money bubble or the final table bubble. At this point the mid-stacks in the game become easy targets. They have enough chips to ‘play’, yet will not want to risk their comfortable stacks without a really strong hand. This increases the gap between hands they could raise with and hands which could call a 3-bet – and you can use this to your advantage to win some pots! Bear in mind that 4-bet on the bubble from a mid-sized stack can be very strong, you need to be careful!
3-Betting In Poker Tournaments – Summing It Up + Next Steps
Re-raising is a great way to build your chip stack, as long as you are aware of the dangers. My recommendation to newer players is first to ensure that their 3-bets are not ‘premium only’ as this is very easy to exploit. Next focus on position and stack sizes and ensuring that your range is somewhat balanced. Remember, positive and aggressive poker is profitable – as long as you are aware enough to get out of the way when the warning bells start to sound.
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