Is your opponents’ response an easy one?

Tough opponent

In poker be it tournament poker or cash game poker then it stands to reason that if we make life easier for our opponents then the natural knock on effect of this is that our bottom line is hit. Let us look at typical tournament situation where it is folded around to a button player with 17bb who raises to 2.5bb in a steal attempt. The big blind that has 13bb now shoves all in with the A-4s and the original raiser folds. The big blind increases their stack by 4bb and goes from 13bb to 17bb and an increase in their stack of a highly significant 30%.

The button player basically telegraphed their intention and actually placed around 15% of their stack into the pot without ever getting to fight for it which is a cardinal sin. The big blind knew or at least strongly suspected that the openers’ range was very wide and so their response once the small blind had folded was a simple one. So the action of the raiser made the action of the 3/bettor an easy one and that led to the raiser losing 15% of their stack.

In cash games then we can also allow our opponent an easy response. Let us say that it is open raised by the button player to 3bb and the small blind folds. You have the Qc-Jc in the big blind and are wondering whether or not to aggressively 3/bet? Many players do 3/bet in these situations for two reasons. The first is because of the fact that they have a semi-decent hand and the second is because of the likely width of their opponents range. When these two factors are combined then the player often decides to 3/bet.

However when we 3/bet then we make life easier for any competent player to progress from there. If they are out of position to us post flop then they have an easy fold or 4/bet line. Folding allows them to escape from the hand with a minimal loss while 4/betting has a lot of fold equity if we have a fairly wide 3/betting range. When in position depending on stack sizes of course then calling the 3/bet is an option. So you need to be very careful before you stray into the 3/bet zone because if you are doing this with less than premium hands then you can fall foul of allowing your opponent easy responses.

In fact even if you do have premium hands then 3/betting for value isn’t always getting value when your opponents simply raise-fold most of their range. So even with premium holdings too then a good and concealed response to an openers raise is to call and have an equity edge post flop against that range. We should have two clear strategic goals in poker. The first is to be the best player that we can be and this means becoming a very astute hand reader post flop. The second is to then complicate the game as much as possible for technically inferior opponents and this means playing more post flop poker.