3-betting as the Aggressor

We will first discuss playing 3-bet pots as the aggressor. You want to do most of your 3- betting in position (from the CO or BTN) because you will have position for the rest of the hand. This allows you to play your hands profitably, as well as widen the range of hands you can 3-bet with.

3-betting against UTG/MP

A player raising from UTG will have a perceived tight range. If you 3-bet him from the button, then you will get a lot of respect. 3-betting the MP is almost the same, as his range will be almost as strong.

Increase your 3-betting range versus UTG. If he starts playing back at you by calling your 3-bets lighter or 4-betting, then slow down. For the most part, however, he will be folding a ton of his holdings and playing back only with JJ+ and AK. This is fine, because it doesn’t happen often. If he calls a lot of your 3-bets and check-folds most flops, then keep doing it. If he starts to call down your multi-barrels, then it’s a good time to narrow your 3- betting range to include more Broadway cards and fewer suited connectors.

3-betting against the Cutoff

Most regulars widen their opening range from the cutoff, so you want to 3-bet the cutoff relentlessly from the button. You’ll have tons of fold equity because: 1) his range is weak, and 2) he doesn’t want to play against you from out of position.

If your opponent has an aggressive 3-betting history, then widen your 3-betting value range because he’s more likely to 4-bet as a bluff. Without history, you can safely fold to a 4-bet even with a hand as strong as AQ. The general strategy is to keep 3-betting him until he starts to fight back. He can fight back by 4-betting pre-flop, check-raising flops, or calling down with marginal holdings.

It is important to realize that there will be times when he shows up with a real hand. If he has folded to your 3-bet five times in a row, and then he 4-bets you, then he has a hand. There’s nothing embarrassing about getting caught. Phil Ivey gets caught too and he’s the best poker player in the world. If Villain 4-bets, then fold and 3-bet him later.

3-betting from the blinds

You don’t want to 3-bet too often from the blinds. It’s simply not profitable against good, aggressive players in late positions because playing out of position is tough.

If you do 3-bet from the blinds, then it’s always a good idea to do so with a polarized range. Always 3-bet with QQ-AA and AK. With 99-JJ and AQ, you want to be doing it about half the time. These are good hands, but without an aggressive dynamic, you’re still going to have to fold them to a 4-bet.

3-betting with Deep Stacks

When stacks are 150BB or more, you can 3-bet with many more hands in position, including hands like 96s, J7s, Q7s and K5s. Players play much more straightforward when stacks are deep. Some players will call a lot pre-flop, hoping to flop a strong hand, and will check-fold once they miss. Some players will fold to re-raises pre-flop all the time.

If you’re in the blinds, then you should tighten up your 3-betting range because playing against an aggressive player out of position with lots of money behind is neither profitable nor fun. I know sometimes it looks weak to fold out of position so much. but position is that important and there’s nothing much you can do about it. Fortunately, there are many players out there who love playing out of position and want to show you they can outplay you at a positional disadvantage. Just nod your head in agreement while taking down pots.

3-betting with AQ

Say you and another good player at the table have been clashing. Both of you have 3-bet the other several times already, and have not shown down a hand yet. Finally, you pick up AQ and open-raise from the cutoff. Not surprisingly, he 3-bets you again from the big blind. You could 4-bet him here because his range is somewhat wide, but it’s not the best play because if he shoves all-in, you can’t really call. AQ doesn’t do well against an all-in raise. We’re 38-percent against 88+ and AQ+, and that’s being optimistic, because people will rarely 5-bet shove pre-flop with 88 or AQ.

So, we just call. The plan is to simply shove over his bet on a ton of flops (742 rainbow, T73 rainbow, J55 rainbow, JT5 rainbow, etc.). The drier the board, the stronger your range will appear. If there’s a flush draw possible, he may call you down lighter. The purpose of doing this is to fold out AK on the flop, as well as complete air.

There are some flops you don’t want to raise all-in with. On Axx, just call. On Kxx, just fold. AK, KQ, KJs, or KTs could very well be in his range.

If you raise all-in on the flop and are called, then you still have about six outs to make the best hand. Against JJ on T66 rainbow, AQ still has 25-percent equity. So if he bet-folds to your shove, then you will win an enormous amount of dead money. Just make sure you don’t raise small and give him a chance to re-bluff. You want to maximize your fold equity by raising him all-in.

You can do this with other Broadway hands such as AJs, ATs, KQ, KJs, KTs, QJs, QTs and JTs.

Important Note: This play can cause you to become spewy if you are mindlessly doing it without logical reasoning and reads. The idea is to wait until the situation presents itself and then apply it. Don’t force the play; let the game come to you. If Villain is weak-passive and he suddenly 3-bets you, chances are, he’s not making a play and is doing it with a premium hand, so fold. This also works best when stacks are around 100BB.
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