The 3Bet in No Limit Holdem

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Advanced Strategy 3-Betting in NL Hold’em

 The ‘3-bet’, and how you employ it, is fundamental in poker. To 3-bet quite literally means to make the third bet. For example, if play folds round to the button in a game of NL50, he makes a standard 3 big blind raise with A10/o. The small blind folds, and the big blind, holding pocket kings, makes a 3-bet to around $5.

For tournament poker please read this article 3betting in MTTs.

Your average TAG (tight aggressive) player, with a VPIP/PFR around 15/12 will 3-bet around 3% of the time, with a QQ+ range. The problem with this is that it makes your style predictable, as other players know you are holding a premium hand when you 3-bet. Let’s explore the reasoning behind the 3-bet – why we do it.

1. Stop the thief. Any savvy 6-max player at NL50 and above will raise on the button, or close to it, to try and steal the blinds. You have to stop him stealing and bullying the table. But exercise a degree of caution – take heed of his stats before you go to town on 3-betting him. If his steal percentage is around 12% give him some respect, but if it’s 25% or more, then feel free to 3-bet. The steal attempt % is a vital component to a tracking HUD. As a general rule of thumb, we should be looking to 3-bet more in the blinds for protection, and to stop the button thief.

2.  Take control. With a 3-bet, we are showing strength, and there is a good chance we can take the pot down on the flop with a continuation bet. We also have fold equity pre-flop, particularly if the player is very nitty (check his fold to 3-bet %).

 3. Acquire information. It’s quite simple really – to find out whether our opponent is holding a premium hand. If we 3-bet with a marginal holding like AJ suited, and we get 4-bet, it’s easy for us to put him on QQ/KK/AA.

 4. Most importantly, to disguise our hand strength and get value from our premium hands. If you are a standard TAG (nothing wrong with that), 3-betting with just QQ+, you become too predictable. So when you see Tom Dwan 3-betting relentlessly with suited connectors, there is method to his madness. If we 3-bet with a broader range of hands (including hands with great potential such as 6-7/9-10 suited), we can extract a lot of value if we connect with the flop. Imagine if the button raises on the button with AJ/o, and we 3-bet with 56 suited. There’s a good chance he’s going to stack off on a range of flops, which to him, appear pretty dry. Flops such as J 5 6, A 5 5 are going to be real money spinners. We also have straight and flush potential. Finally, if we 3-bet relentlessly, our opponents aren’t going to give us credit when we actually do wake up to premium holdings.

 5. Upset the rhythm of the regulars. It’s true – all the great online players (the ones playing the nosebleed stakes) 3-bet relentlessly. This is because as they surge through the limits, they are upsetting the rhythm of the regs who want to play ABC poker. There’s nothing more frustrating than a serial 3-better at the table, particularly if you are card dead.

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