Marginal Spots vs 3-bets

As you well know, you’re going to be in a lot of marginal spots when facing a 3-bet. How you react and play those situations is going to make a significant difference in your winrate. Many of the decisions will be super close, so stat ranges and reads will be critical in helping you to make the best decision possible. Some of the common marginal spots with roughly 100 BB effective stacks are:

 You open raise in MP (or late MP in full ring) with a normal MP opening range of about 20%, and your opponent on the button 3-bets you who has a normal button 3-betting range of about 12%.

 Comments: You aren’t opening super wide, but your opponent is going to be 3-betting from the button pretty wide and will have position on you post flop. If your opponent is betting a normal polarized range, then you’re going to be a slight dog to neutral equity with your opening range versus their 3-betting range. You would be looking at somewhere between 46–50% on average. Your opponent is going to have a positional equity advantage bump on anywhere from 1.1–1.3x of their real equity. So you’ll need to fold enough of your range, turn some of those into 4-bluffs occasionally, and call with a range where you can make up your positional disadvantage. A good baseline starting range would be: 99+, ATs+, AJo+, KJs+, KQo. This would give you anywhere between 57–60% equity versus their range. If you cut out a few more of these hands like KJs, ATs, KQo, you’ll jump your equity a couple of more points. So something like: 99+, AJs+, AJo+, KQs for most players who may struggle with out of position play a bit. You’re going to want to turn some of the bottom of your folding range into 4-bet bluffs so that you can make up for the times you’re being 3-bet and have to fold. Calling with this range, you’re going to be folding roughly 70% of the time, so you’ll need to mix in some 4-bet bluffs to make up for the times you’re abandoning your equity. The other options are that you call with some of your suited connectors a higher percentage of the time, and bluff shove when you hit some piece of the flop, which is going to be a much higher variance strategy, but can still be effective.

 You open raise in MP (or late MP in full ring) with a normal MP opening range of about 20%, and your opponent in the cut-off 3-bets you who has a normal cut-off 3-betting range of about 8%.

 Comments: Very similar situation, except now your opponent has a tighter 3-betting range. It’s a bit more difficult to profitably turn some of your range into 4-bet bluffs, but you still can turn a few. You might think your calling range would need to be tightened up a bit in comparison to the previous example, but it’s actually not the case. A lot more of your opponent’s quasi range will turn into a flatting range, and their 3-bet bluff to value distribution will be more evenly distributed. So a calling range of: 99+, AJs+, AQo+, KQs is a good baseline and will give you between 58–60% equity on average versus your opponent’s range Depending on your comfort level with out of position play, eliminating KQs and/or AJs will jump your equity a few more points and eliminate some “trouble hands.” Most of the time you’ll be 4-betting KK+, AK, but flatting for deception in these situations adds a lot of value to your hand versus your opponent’s range. Again, you will have to mix in a couple of 4-bet bluffs, and you’ll have to turn some of your weaker hands into post flop bluffs to make this situation profitable overall. It’s a marginal spot for good reason.

You open raise a normal range in the cut-off of about 28%, and an opponent on the button with a normal polarized 3-betting range of 13% 3-bets you.

 Comments: Similar spot to the first example except our opponent’s 3- betting range will tend to be slightly larger in this situation on average, and our opening range is going to be wider. You’ll be a slight dog versus his 3-betting range, so folding some of the range without being exploitable, and turning enough hands into 4-bet bluffs is a fine line since your opponent will know that you’ll have a wider 4- betting range on average. A baseline calling range would be: 88+, ATs+, AJo+, KJs+, KQo. This would give you between 58–60% equity again, and keep you slightly under 70% folding percent. Assuming you always 4-bet KK+, AK in this spot, with the remaining hands you’ll still have between 55–57% equity versus your opponent’s 3- betting range.

In general, if you’re not comfortable calling in a re-raised pot out of position, then you need to be tightening up your opening range when you have reasonably aggressive 3-bettors who have position on you. If you’re normally opening say 28%, like in the above example, but you have a player on the button who 3-bets 14% in that dynamic, you need to considerably reduce your opening range. You’d need to cut off anywhere from 6–10% from your open raising range to play the situation profitably. Make sure you’re adjusting your range, based on the opponents that have position on you.

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