Aug 9 2010

3 Betting Do’s and Don’ts

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

In the aggressive environment of today’s poker games, particularly on the internet, 3-betting is a near necessity. If you are not 3-betting at least on occasion, you are going to be eaten alive. There is literally no winning strategy that does not involve a fair dosage of 3-bets. Now, there are multiple uses for 3-bets and there are different ways in which they can be implemented. For example, a 3-bet with pocket aces is incredibly standard from any position pre flop, where as a 3-bet with K2 suited might only make sense once in a blue moon. These different situations are what will need to be considered whenever the opportunity to 3-bet arises.


As is often the case with fundamental poker skills, 3-bets rely heavily on position. 3-betting out of position is often asking for trouble, whether you do or don’t have a particularly strong hand. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to pass up on a 3-bet with a solid hand simply because you are out of position. It does, however, make sense to skip some 3-betting opportunities when you have a weaker holding and are out of position. To further complicate things, there are some rare spots where it could be ok to make a 3-bet out of position with a marginal hand, but these situations are far and few between. You should always be contemplating what your options will be after the flop is dealt whenever you are making a three bet pre flop, or any move pre flop for that matter.

Bet Sizing

Aside from position, bet sizing is the most important factor in 3-betting. If you know when to make a 3-bet, but don’t know how large it should be, what good is a 3-bet at all? Just as a good player extracts the most value from their strong hands, a good player will also lose the least when they are playing with a sub-par hand. Determining exact bet sizes is something that takes time for the vast majority of players. There are always a number of variables to consider, but the most important variable is why you are making a 3-bet.

If a 3-bet is for value, it should be on the larger side, whereas a 3-bet bluff will typically be much smaller. There isn’t much use in making a large 3-bet if you are only going to be folding a re-raise or shove all in. Likewise, a 3-bet for value should be extracting as much money pre flop as it possibly can. Most importantly, if you are making a 3-bet that  is not clearly for either value or as a bluff, you probably shouldn’t be making a 3-bet at all. This is one of the biggest obstacles that players face when it comes to consistency in 3-betting. Big pocket pairs are almost always worthy of a 3-bet for value, but a hand like 8 9 suited can lose much of its value when 3-bet. This is how the value of a hand will largely be determined by how its played. If 8 9 suited sees a flop cheaply, it can win a major pot for a minimal investment. On the other hand, when 8 9 suited 3-bets pre flop and gets called or re raised, it is usually in a lot of trouble. Why you are making a 3-bet is often more important than whether or not it works.

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