Don’t just blindly 3/bet because others do

Dos And Donts

I feel that these days that too many people jump on the bandwagon regarding 3/betting when what they should be doing is trying to play more post flop poker. The pre-flop betting round is the easiest round by far to play and so finding big edges in this area is tough. When your opponent 3/bets you then you have easy responses and likewise with your opponent when you 3/bet them. If you find that you can hand read very well then whether you are in position or out of position you will fare better against most opponents by playing post flop poker with them.

Unless you happen to be making gross errors in 3/bet pots like folding 90% of your open raises to 3/bets or calling and then playing fit or fold, your opponents will be extracting very thin edges out of you pre-flop and likewise you to them. This is even more so online where the average stack sizes are condensed due in main to the maximum buy-in being only 100bb in many instances, average session lengths being shorter and more minimum stack players. This makes the average stack much lower in an online game than a comparable live game at the same stakes.

I think players overestimate their pre-flop edges massively these days and 3/bet in a lazy way simply because they have something decent and are up against a probable wide range. However when your opponent has raised to 3bb from the cut-off and you 3/bet to 9bb from the button then you have placed 66% of the money into that pot at this stage of the hand. So this figure dictates that you either need to outplay your opponent post flop in escalating pots or they need to fold a lot for your play to be profitable assuming that your 3/bet range is also fairy wide.

However the largest edges that you will have will happen post flop and especially if you can hand read fairly well and stacks are relatively deep. This is why SNG’s are so tough to make money in because once a player understands a good strategy and has a good grasp of ICM then their play is almost automated or it can be in many instances. The combination of ICM and short stacks make plays easy and mathematically sound but this isn’t possible in a deep stacked NLHE cash game when there is enough stack depth to play through the streets.

If you 3/bet your opponent then you will fold out most of their junk but a 3/bet also puts you into a position where you need an accurate assessment of their range if your goal is to make money pre-flop. If your assessment of their range is wrong or their 4/betting frequencies or they have changed them to confuse you then your 3/betting strategy can fall on hard ground.

Many players never realise this and end up trying to over analyse correct 3/betting strategy when in actual fact it is a far more complex floating dynamic. It is much better to learn how to hand read post flop much better and then defeat these players in that area because good hand reading skill will carry far more weight than vague pre-flop range estimates. In reality when a player believes that they have pinned down an opponents’ range…… in many cases they haven’t.