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What is 3Betting Light

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Explanation of 3Betting Light

What Does 3Betting Light Mean?   3Betting without premium hands.

Most of you will already be aware of 3betting in texas holdem.  In normal cash games we only do this with our strongest hands such as AA or AK.  However an increasingly common play in the high stakes game is “3Betting light” i.e. 3betting with marginal hands like suited connectors or pocket pairs.

In many ways 3betting light is another type of “bluff” used to distort the strength of your hand and hopefully represent Aces or Kings to fold your opponent pre-flop.  However there is more to 3betting light than just “bluffing”, 3betting light is a very important skill to master and the risks are much higher than other bluffs – such as the continuation bet or check-raise for instance.

Advantages of 3Betting Light

We do this for two reasons pre-flop, the first is to make our opponent and the opening raiser fold by playing into him and representing an extremely strong hand in position.  Second is to represent a strong hand that will give us greater fold equity at later streets, or to extract more value in implied odds if we hit our drawing hand.

What this means is that even if the opening raiser calls our 3bet, he will be less inclined to get cheeky with us because our hand range appears very strong.  And if we actually hit a monster with our marginal hand (for example: 7h-6h on a 5d-8s-9c board) then we will get paid off better.

When to 3Bet Light

Position: 3Betting light is very similar to stealing and should only be done from mid-late position.  It’s very difficult to play post-flop out of position which is why people don’t recommend it.

It’s also best to 3bet against players open-raising from late position or CO as this represents a lighter hand on average.  Don’t 3bet light against EP raises because they only do this with excellent hands (1010+/AK).

Hand Range: Suited-connectors, pocket pairs and suited-aces.  Never 3bet light with broadway  cards QJ KQ etc because you’ll be dominated by callers and this represents negative expected value.  You need cards that have “outs” as Negreanu says.  I don’t recommend 3betting with AJ either as this is dominated by AQ/AK/AA and doesn’t have any outs.

Opponents: Works best against loose opponents who call with a wide-range of hands such as other suited connectors and broadway cards.  Unless these players hit the flop hard they’ll often fold to continuation bets and double barrel bluffs out of position.

If you’re using a heads up display (HUD) it’s best 3betting light against opponents with a low 3bet call percentage.

Disadvantages of 3Betting Light

Clearly this is a risky move and if you’re not at a high enough level I don’t recommend pulling this off. It’s dangerous, risks a lot of chips and you need to be deep-stacked to prevent yourself being pot-committed too lightly.

However in higher limit games the good players will be 3betting light – and the only way you can stay profitable is to join them.  Generally speaking the higher up the limits you go, the more aggressive you need to be to survive and 3betting light is an example of this.  While at NL25 check-raising and cbetting is the “x-factor”, at NL100+ 3betting light is the dog’s bollocks.  It’s something you’ll need to learn to advance up the stakes.

By all means you should bring this advanced move into lower stakes games – but be aware of doing so especially against calling-stations who are impossible to double-barrel.


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