Friday, November 6, 2009

Breaking Down the 3-Bet

I don't three-bet enough. Do you?

How often do you three bet? For me in $25 NL over the last ~38,000 hands, my 3-betting % is 2.65. When you break this down, this doesn't even include all of the most premium hands with very high win rates. This means that I'm flatting with AK, QQ, JJ and 10-10 a lot instead of 3-betting. When I'm out of position, I'm more inclined to 3-bet, but while in position I generally view the positional advantage as a key driver to my success with these hands. It is for this reason that I elect to flat call more often. If the board is threatening or I miss completely, I've allowed myself to release my hand more easily, while if I build a larger pot pre-flop I'm going to be greater committed to my hand. I've realized that this 'scared to get my money in behind' mentaily is a roadblock to success and false fear of a very profitable situation.

I also hate getting 4-bet with a wider 3-bet range, although I'm coming to terms with the fact that I need to increase my 3-betting range to about 5-6% to make sure that I'm getting optimal value out of my more premium hands. However, this doesn't necessarily mean I need to 3-bet with JJ every time I see them. I can of course throw some other hands into my 3-betting range when the situation presents itself which aren't top 6% hands.

For instance, say I'm on the button with 100BB effective stacks. An active player makes a standard 3x open. I may 3-bet with a hand like 9c-10c or 5s5h. A lot of the time this player may fold pre-flop providing me with pure un-raked profit with a hand that doesn't typically play well post-flop. Other times I will be able to win the pot on the flop with a continuation bet since I've shown significant strength before the flop. Remember, my opponent will miss the flop at least 2/3 of the time. If I manage to hit a set and my opponent has an overpair to the board or top-pair-top-kicker to the board, I'll have a very good shot at stacking the villain because we are closer to our committment threshold(s).

From what I've observed at the higher/est stakes [both tournaments and cash games] is rampant 3-betting and 4-betting amongst players. Often times you'll see that they're showing down 44 vs AQo, when in your normal home game this line would only be AA vs KK or KK vs QQ. Take a moment and think about why there is so much 3/4-betting occurring. Essentially, all of the players which are playing the profitable 3/4betting ranges are exploiting those who don't. And it should also be stated that high stakes players wouldn't 3-bet light if it wasn't profitable.

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