3-Betting Poker Strategy

For those who don’t know already, 3-betting basically refers to re-raising. A lot of the time, you will see it done before the flop, when a player opens the pot with a raise, and then someone re-raises the original raiser.

As you would know, an aggressive poker strategy is vital in playing winning poker. In addition to raising, you definitely want to be be 3-betting with a reasonable frequency pre-flop, since it’s a profitable play.

The reason this is the case is that aggressive players understand that it’s difficult for a player to continue against a 3-bet, so more often than not they are just going to fold their hand. Due to the sheer number of folds that you are going to get when 3-betting against tight opponents, it makes sense to add a lot of “bluff” hands to your 3-betting range.

What is 3-bet bluffing all about? What this means is that in addition to three-betting with the premium starting hands you would normally, you also want to 3-bet with non premium hands. This sounds like a weird concept to inflate the pot with a weaker hand, but the goal is to try and get your opponent to fold pre-flop.

An optimal 3-betting poker strategy will involve a player raising with a balanced range that consists of purely “value” hands and “bluff” hands. There needs to always be a reason for the 3-bet. Are you 3-betting for value or are you 3-betting as a bluff? It should be able to answer this question.

When designing a 3-betting range that maximizes your profits, you need to consider the opponents you are playing against and the hands they are calling 3-bets with. Against tight players who are only continuing in 3-bet pots with premium hands, you should have a polarized 3-betting range, which basically consists of premium and very weak hands. By premium hands, this basically refers to AA/KK/QQ/AK. Hands which you are willing to commit your entire stack with.

On the other hand, if you are playing against loose opponents that don’t like folding to 3-bets, you need to adjust your 3-betting range to account for this, since your bluffs aren’t going to get through nearly as often, which is the whole point of 3-betting as a bluff. So, against such players, you can widen the value hands you’re 3-betting with, and include hands such as AQ/AJ/KQ, since you can profitably stack off with these hands when you hit against weaker opponents, as they are making huge mistakes post flop.

When thinking about a light 3-betting strategy, it should be done with hands that have some potential of flopping something big, since it’s always good to bluff with hands that have a decent chance of winning. Every player has a preference for what types of starting hands are good to 3-bet as a bluff with. Generally hands like suited aces, suited kings, and suited connectors and one gappers like T8 suited, since they can flop strong draws that you can continue to play aggressively.

The great thing about 3-betting is that even if the opponent doesn’t fold when you 3-bet with very weak hands, there is still a chance to take down the pot on the flop by following through with a continuation bet. This will work often, since you have shown strength by re-raising pre-flop, and it’s difficult for an opponent to continue in a bloated pot unless they have a hand.

Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to be getting carried away and light 3-betting all the time, you need to have a well balanced strategy. The goal is to try and get folds pre-flop. If you can’t reasonably expect the opponent will fold, then hold back on the aggression. I think some aggressive players take it one step too far with their aggression when they 3-bet small suited connectors like 56 suited. Hands like this play a lot better in multi way pots and they flop well so it’s fine to just try and see a cheap flop with this hand.

Where a lot of players make a mistake when the first start looking to integrate a light 3-betting poker strategy in their games is they think that they need to win every 3-bet pot they get involved in even when their 3-bet bluffs get called. This completely ignores what they were trying to accomplish in the first place, which was to get folds before the flop. But once a player calls a 3bet, they’re generally going to have a fairly strong range of hands they’re calling with, including pairs and hands like AQ/AK. So, on low raggy flops like 7-3-2 you can’t really expect overpairs or even AK to fold on these kinds of flops, so you should shut down a lot of the time and look to limit your losses.