Don’t be so quick to 3-bet in position

Poker call

Too many players these days rush into 3-betting in position against wide ranges when calling is the better play. For example let us say that it has been open raised from the cut-off to 3.5bb and you have the 10c-9c on the button. The effective stack is 100bb and in some instances many players 3-bet here simply because they have a playable hand and the raisers range is wide at around 25%-30%. However, the bet to stack ratio is changed dramatically when you 3-bet because a 3-bet will now make it around 11bb!

With an 11bb stack and only 89bb left then the ratio of big blinds risked to the remaining stack is now only around 8/1 or so. This doesn’t leave a player a lot of room to manoeuvre post flop and it also leaves you in a position where your opponents have an easy response to a 3-bet when out of position and that is to 4-bet or fold. The average stack size is much smaller online than it is in a live game and so this helps technically weaker players.

When your opponents’ responses are made simpler then you make it easier for them to play poker against you. Whenever you place yourself into a position where your opponents can make easier decisions then your life becomes harder and it is harder to make money. Calling pre-flop when done with skill is simply a vehicle to get to the later streets. No strong professional will do this passively. The goal when calling in heads-up and three way pots when in position is to see the flop and turn and even river cards.

It isn’t to play fit or fold and to see if you can hit a big flop. It also isn’t because of the implied odds as well because the implied odds are only rarely in existence in online No-Limit Hold’em cash games. So, fold equity is where you need to focus and you need to play your hands in such a way so as to maximise your fold equity at all times.

In casino games like blackjack, the casino dealer has the edge. This is because by having position they can still make money even if they bust. This happens after players have acted first and also bust. So the dealer in blackjack doesn’t need to make the best hand to win. This happens in poker and it happens a lot more when the player has position. By calling you can read your opponents’ actions and make a decision. Aggressive poker when your opponent isn’t strong can lead to them folding the better hand.

However, by placing yourself into their shoes, they may find it very difficult to play a hand that looks more and more marginal when placed into a pot that is starting to escalate. A careful reading of the action along with position helps you to win money in pots like these. This is why you often have to speculate to accumulate in poker by calling raises even though there are players still to act after you that potentially could 3-bet.