Facing a 3bet


My initial thoughts when I agreed to do this ‘Concept of the Week: 3betting’ post for the micro forum were as follows: 1. Preflop drama is for poor postflop players.
2. People don’t fold often enough to 3bets in the micros.

Generally speaking, calling 3bets in the micros just isn’t profitable and I think that most people will find that if they filter in their DBs for “faced preflop 3bet = true” that they will see calling 3bets is –EV. Let’s look at the above thoughts. So, you’re a positionally aware poker player and you raise a wide range from LP and steal those blinds like it’s your job. Thus, you are more likely to be 3bet preflop from villains both in the blinds and on the button (depending a bit on how loose you are from the CO). Now, because you open wide from the CO and BTN, your LP raises are smaller at 3bbs and your villains are 3betting you to 10-12bbs. If you successfully 4bet only once every 4 hands (i.e. villain folds his 3bet to your 4bet) you get the following:

4 hands
In 3 of those hands, you raise to 3bbs and fold to villains’ 3bets to give you -9bbs.
In 1 of those hands, you 4bet and villain folds his 3bet of 10- 12bbs to give you +10-12bbs.

Net profit 1-3bbs over 4 hands You have now taken those “light 3bettors” and bent the situation such that their preflop drama is slightly +EV for you (though, imo, it will be closer to BE over the long run). Now, keep in mind that you’re not going to be 3bet 4 orbits in a row so over 200 hands, or about 22 orbits at the table, you need only successfully 4bet once. I highlight this point because I am NOT advocating that everyone go out there and start 4betting light. You must pick your spots wisely and have enough history with your villain to know what type of range they are 3betting both for value and lightly.

That’s just a general example, but you can see that if you’re being 3bet a ton and folding to even 75% of them (and I do believe that most micro’ers should be folding to the majority of 3bets that they face), that you’re still making a slight profit if you are 4betting in the right spots. But, in general, I find that all that preflop drama ends up being a break even play even if you are 4betting in the right spots and inducing preflop folds from your 3bettors. Now, if you raise to the standard 4+1bb/limper (2p2 dogma) from LP, then your 4bets will need to work with a higher frequency to make all that drama breakeven or slightly +EV for you.

Basically, from my initial 2 thoughts and that little breakdown above, you can see that you can still fold to a majority of 3bets, but, by picking out the correct spots to 4bet, all that preflop drama isn’t going to amount to much.

Now, people often ask me, “How do I deal with these 3bettors??!!!”

My answer is always the same, “It depends!”

It depends on position (are you IP or OOP). It depends on the history you have with that villain (primarily, in the micros, do you have enough history). It depends on what range you think villain is 3betting you with. It depends on the dynamic at the table and what has been going on prior to the drama that unfolds. Etc.

HHs will explain these dependencies and will also give you some examples of how to play in 3bet pots.

The first HH: Villain in this hand is a reg who I have at 10/5/3 AND I have a note on him that says, “he likes to limp/mini- 3bet his premiums on occasion. JJ+/AK.” People should focus primarily on isolating the fish, but you can certainly also isolate the bad regs. Now, I raised it up preflop here to isolate this villain because if he limp/mini-3bets then I have a hand that, if it flops well, will have decent equity vs. his limp/mini-3bet range, I will have an opportunity to stack him AND I have position on him.

Poker Stars $50.00 No Limit Hold’em – 9 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked. com

Gin. Now, I could raise it up on the flop as I have 14 outs vs. his range (straight draw, 2 pair, trips), but, if I raise it up on the flop then I will basically be polarizing my range to flopped sets and I know that this villain is capable of laying down an overpair. Not to mention, villain’s cbet% over almost 500 hands is >80% so he’s still going to cbet here even if he has AK.

Naturally, I hit on the turn, but villain checks to me so I can pretty immediately assign his range as AK and bet on the turn and take this pot away. Note: I could have bet this turn and still taken the pot away even if the turn had been a blank such as a 2 or 3 etc.

Final Pot: $27.75 Hero wins $5.40

Hero wins $21.00 (Rake: $1.35)

I cannot stress the importance of taking notes on your villains while you are playing. If you notice something like a reg limp/3betting premiums, then you can try to isolate that reg when you have position and when you have a hand that stands a chance of flopping with decent equity vs. that villain’s limp/3bet range (iff you know that your villain will stack off with an overpair/TP type hand…very important point).

Onto the next hand. In the HH below, villain is a solid reg running at 12/10/4 and has a wider 3bet range from LP (~9% from the CO and BTN). However, villain probably sees me as a pretty solid player and one thing that people really need to keep in mind when facing someone who 3bets wider from LP is that these villains are probably NOT 3betting your UTG raises light (be aware not only of how you see your villain, but also of how your villain views you). I’ve seen this time and again. People say to me, “but he 3bets light from LP!” Fair enough. But, I think that if you will pay attention that you will see these villains 3betting MP and other LP raises light as opposed to 3betting UTG/EP raises light. When someone 3bets my UTG raise, I almost ALWAYS give that 3bet respect. Not to mention, in the HH below, if I do call villain’s 3bet, I will be OOP post flop vs. a solid reg whose 3bet range in this scenario I would assign as JJ+/AK (in this case, QQ+/AK as I hold JJ myself) and given that he 3bet my UTG raise, I’d weight his range as QQ+ and am thus highly uncomfortable felting JJ even on a low flop. Easy fold preflop.

Poker Stars $50.00 No Limit Hold’em – 8 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked. com

MP1: $50.00
MP2: $73.60
CO: $53.20
BTN: $11.00
SB: $37.70
BB: $55.85
Hero (UTG): $51.50 UTG+1: $50.20

Final Pot: $4.75 CO wins $0.25 CO wins $4.50

Now, to those of you who 3bet light from the blinds…I hear it all the time, “That guy is attempting to steal my blinds 50% so I have to protect my blinds!”

Protect your blinds if you must and certainly 3bet a wider range from the blinds both for value and for image. But, imo, you’re not playing a SNG or an MTT. You are playing a cash game. It is MUCH more important to focus on protecting your button than it is to protect your blinds. I’m usually more concerned with protecting my button when there’s a nut job/loose villain sitting just to my right (i.e. not only is he stealing a ton of my blinds, but he’s playing really wide from the CO and is trying to steal my button). Think about it. Go into your DBs and look at your profit from the BTN and it should be much higher than your profit from any other position at the table. People love sitting next to a nit because, “I can steal his blinds all day!” Well, fair enough; but, I’d rather steal his BTN.

3betting light from the button: In the HH below, I only had ~100 hands with villain, but he was running EXTREMELY loose at 22/11/3 over all, so you can imagine that he was pretty much a nut job and from MP, I had him at 26/11. Here, I am protecting my button and doing so pretty lightly imo with pocket 6s. A pfr of 11% can roughly be estimated from MP is, roughly, 22+, lots of suited aces, pretty much any 2 broadway KT+ and some SCs/off suit connectors. Now, it is VERY important to let the villains to your right know that you will 3bet their MP/LP raises when you are OTB and, often, you don’t necessarily want to see a flop when you 3bet preflop (i.e. you’re happy to take down the chips that are already on the table). In this HH, I am certainly happy to take it down preflop because I don’t have much history on this villain and, while I do have position, I have very little idea as to how to play this opponent postflop.

You will make the most money on any given table from the two opponents to your right and the two opponents to your left.

Focus on playing those villains at each and every table and I promise that you’ll do just fine.

Poker Stars $50.00 No Limit Hold’em – 9 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked. com

UTG+1: $12.10 UTG+2: $24.45
MP1: $39.55
MP2: $62.75
CO: $84.95
Hero (BTN): $58.35 SB: $48.00

BB: $59.55 UTG: $50.75

Final Pot: $3.75 Hero wins $3.75

Text results appended to pokerstove.txt

532,526,544 games 0.625 secs 852,042,470 games/sec

Board: Dead:

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 49.450% 48.93% 00.52% 260572446 2762105.00 { 22+, A4s+, KTs+, QTs+, JTs, T9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, 54s, ATo+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo, T9o, 98o, 87o }
Hand 1: 50.550% 50.03% 00.52% 266429888 2762105.00 { 6c6h }

As you can see, I am ahead of the range that I assigned villain in this HH, but certainly not by much and, given that I have very little history with this villain, I am happy to take it down preflop because I lack the necessary history to outplay him postflop. Also, it lets villain know to be a little more careful when raising from MP/LP when I am to his left and have position (i.e. it establishes my image in that villain’s mind).

How much do your hole cards matter when protecting your button? Not much. In the HH below, I 3bet preflop because over 500 hands, this villain was running at 39/34 from the CO and had a fold to 3bet of 100% from the CO. Again, I am protecting my button, I have position and I have a nut job sitting to my right. Each and every time you 3bet, ask yourself, “Self, why am I 3betting?” Are you 3betting for value? Are you 3betting to scoop up the chips on the table (i.e. your opponent has a very high fold to 3bet %)? Are you 3betting to compensate for being OOP post flop? In addition, when a villain calls your 3bet, you should IMMEDIATELY be able to narrow that opponents range considerably depending on villain’s pfr from that particular position and his fold 2 3bet%. Always, always narrow your opponents range based on his actions both preflop and postflop.

Poker Stars $50.00 No Limit Hold’em – 8 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked. com

UTG+1: $50.00
MP1: $31.70
MP2: $123.20
CO: $60.90
Hero (BTN): $51.35 SB: $30.75

BB: $59.15 UTG: $58.55

Final Pot: $4.75 Hero wins $0.25 Hero wins $4.50

Playing from the blinds: One of my favorite “moves” from the blinds is to punish people on the button who punish limpers. Think about, 2 people limp in and there’s a 2p2’er doing his job on the button and raising to 4bb+1bb/limper from the BTN. Here I am in the SB or BB thinking to myself, “There’s a lot of chips on the table and villain OTB is just punishing limpers a majority of the time and won’t be able to call a 3bet.”

Now, keep in mind that when you 3bet from the blinds that you are going to be OOP post flop. This is an entirely different scenario than when you are in the CO or OTB and are 3betting. I rarely 3bet light from the blinds for this exact reason, unless I have a truly nutty nut sitting OTB or in the CO. Again, I’d rather focus on protecting my BTN than defending my blinds.

In the HH below, villain was running 29/22/1 with an ATS of 60%. This table was pretty tight and this was probably the 3rd or 4th time in a row that villain had retardedly mini-raised in the SB when folded to him. Now, I didn’t have much history with this villain, but, in this case, I have position.

Poker Stars $50.00 No Limit Hold’em – 8 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked. com

BTN: $50.00
SB: $54.00
Hero (BB): $65.50 UTG: $52.95 UTG+1: $48.75 MP1: $40.40
MP2: $52.95
CO: $50.00

Final Pot: $2.00 Hero wins $2.00

I’m really not going to go into too much detail on 3betting from the blinds because, again, I rarely 3bet light from the blinds in the micros. You’re going to be OOP post flop so I generally 3b from the blinds to compensate for position when I have a strong hand. The majority of my light 3betting takes place from the CO/BTN.

Okay, this is getting long and I’m just going to post it and we can get some discussion going. In summary, I would encourage everyone to focus on their postflop game instead of looking for what I refer to as “preflop drama” spots. Calling 3bets in the micros is generally a losing proposition/-EV so I highly encourage people to FOLD to the majority of 3bets that you face during your stint in the micros. That said, I’m hoping that the beginning of this post showed you how you can make those light 3bettors “pay” for their preflop drama with some well- timed 4bets. I do not advocate 4betting light as I personally find that most of my opponents in the micros were not 3betting nearly as lightly as most people think. Just focus on the two players to your right and the two to your left and outplay those villains since they are the ones who will be giving you the most money.

Thank you for your time and attention . Let the discussion begin.

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