4-betting and Depth OOP

In aggressive, 100bb games, 3-betting is both common and relatively simple to deal with. When we’re OOP, we quickly create a polarized 4-betting range. Basically, every hand that we play falls into one of two categories: 1) we’re ready to stack off with it, or 2) we’re not. This simple solution works effectively in combating 3-betting—it’s easy to balance, easy to put into use, and difficult to counteract. However, some serious complications with this strategy develop when we add some depth to the equation. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that “deep” means 200bb or greater.

Most players are totally lost when they have a playable hand and they get 3-bet OOP while deep. The most common response is to continue to maintain a polarized 4-betting range. This is incorrect.

In 100bb scenarios, we have the following assumptions:

  •   Players are unlikely to flat 4-bets.
  •   It’s difficult to call 3-bets OOP and play profitably.*
  •   Players have narrower value ranges for 3-betting than with deeper stacks (i.e. they won’t 3-bet KQo in position).

Depth changes the equation in a number of ways:

  •   Players are likely to flat 4-bets.**
  •   It’s possible to call 3-bets OOP and play profitably.
  •   Players are likely to 3-bet with wider ranges.

Clearly we need a new strategy in deep scenarios. So, let’s outline one. The following adjustments can be applied respectively to the changes in dynamic listed above:

  • 4-bet for value more thinly. This is by far the most significant adjustment we should make in deep games against aggressive opponents. Because players are more likely to flat 4-bets in position with depth, we can get significant value by 4-betting a hand like AQ or JJ preflop, (same for AJ, KQ, or TT). We just have to realize that we’re going to be c-betting a lot of flops and getting involved in some extremely large pots without extremely large hands. This is OK. So long as our opponents are flatting our 4-bets with wide ranges, we should be able to get a lot of money in profitably by making 4-bets for thin value. (A quick note: our 4-bet size in deep games should be larger than in 100bb games because leverage points will definitely not be reached preflop and because making a small, 25bb-sized 4-bet offers our opponents good odds to play back profitably against us).
  •   Take advantage of our opponents’ wide range by playing hands profitably OOP. We can divide this into two subdivisions:

o Set-mining. Despite our opponent’s wide ranges, we usually expect them to be extremely bluff-happy and push their equity in every opportunity in a deep game. So, despite the fact that they often hold weak hands, we can often still get good implied odds from set- mining OOP when deep.*** It’s important to realize, though, that this may require you taking a lot of c/c flop, c/c (or c/r) turn lines.

o Playing hands with equity. Because our opponents have wide ranges, they’ll often fold to us in the face of aggression. This means that hands like QJs, A3s, ATs, or KQo can flat 3-bets OOP.**** Treat these as though you simply called a raise with them from the blinds— use your equity to check-raise and play aggressively. Do not be afraid to get the nut flush draw all-in on a low-card flop. Pushing your equity in deep spots is definitely a good thing.

 Do not 4-bet bluff with a hand that doesn’t win often at showdown. Be aware that, in deep spots, you will be called preflop when, in 100bb spots, you won’t. Polarization preflop disappears as depth increases.

Following these adjustments is more easily said than done. 4-betting TT for value often puts us in a difficult spot when 250bb deep. We see a lot of overcards on the flop regularly. Just remember— you can c-bet bluff these boards with great success.

Lastly, remember that every opponent plays differently. Some players won’t 3-bet you regularly, even when extremely deep. Against these players, deferring to the “tight strategy” as outlined previously is probably the best play. However, many tough regulars will not make it so easy—now you have a plan to defeat them and continue dominating your table.

*As we’ve discussed, it’s not very hard to play against 3-bets OOP so long as we dominate our opponent equity-wise. This usually means that our opponent has a polarized range and we are near the top of our range.
**This happens due to the increase in implied odds your opponent will experience when deep. However, opponents commonly overestimate their implied odds and underestimate their need to play aggressively and rebluff us.

***This is an interesting concept that we touched upon in the previous comment. It’s difficult to imagine that you’d have strong implied odds when your opponent has a wide range. Traditional explanations of implied odds usually imply that our opponent needs to have a strong holding. They say that if you hold 22 you have strong implied odds against your opponent’s pocket Aces but poor implied odds against your opponent’s J7s. This is an unsophisticated understanding of implied odds. If your opponent decides to pot control his pocket Aces but bluffs all-in with J7s then the opposite is true—you have poor implied odds against his Aces and strong implied odds against his J7s. In fact, implied odds depend on whether or not your opponent will put money in the pot, not the strength of his holding. In the previous comment, I intimated that opponents often overestimate their implied odds against us when we are being aggressive with a wide range—this is not to say that that opponent won’t make money when he makes a big hand. He will. However, he won’t make a big hand often enough to be profitable—he’ll need to be aggressive without much equity in order to be profitable. Of course, if we are also aggressive and we have better hot-cold equity to start the hand, we’ll make money.

****This seems to contradict the idea of value-betting thinly. To say that flatting the hands listed is better than 4-betting them would usually be a mistake. In fact, I would usually 4-bet those hands and stay very aggressive with them postflop. The only reason that I wouldn’t 4-bet a hand like QJs is if my opponent was likely to 5-bet with hands like Kx or Ax. In that case, he’s playing perfectly preflop and I’m not generating many mistakes with my 4-bet. So, I’d rather flat and make him make mistakes postflop.

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