Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dealing With 3 Bets

Poker has become increasingly more aggressive with more players raising, 3 betting and even 4 betting.  Dealing with 3 betting can very difficult, particularly with players who will relentlessly 3 bet you when they are in position.  This article will cover how to deal with 3 bettors, things you can do to combat their aggression.

The first thing to consider is the position you are in and the position of the 3 bettor.  If you are in the first position and the 3 bettor is in the second or third seat, his 3 bet shows a lot more strength then if he 3 bets your cut off raise from the button.  Players tend to give respect to position.  A raise from the first position indicates to the table that you have a strong hand.  A raise from the cut off could just be you trying to steal the blinds. It’s very common for players to 3 bet from the blinds against a button raise as their is a high likely hood that you are just trying to steal the blinds with a marginal hand.  

The second thing you will want to look at is how often the player is 3 betting.  If you have played with them for a couple hundred hands and this is the first time they have 3 bet, they most likely have a very strong hand and you can safely throw away all but the very best hands.  If they player is continually 3 betting you the situation becomes more difficult.

Always take into consideration how deep both of you are.  If your opponent is short stacked you will not have the odds to call the 3 bet with suited connectors of small pocket pairs hoping to flop a set.  If you are both very deep, especially if you are in position, it might be profitable to call with these types of hands.  If you hit the flop your hand will be disguised and you could potentially win a very large pot. Playing deepstacked poker out of position will allow your opponent to put a lot of pressure on you post flop.  Calling with hands like AJs can be very difficult to play in this situation.  What will you do if you flop and A or a J and face going all in for 200 big blinds?

Finally take into consideration how often you are rasing.  Players are less likely to 3 bet a player who has been playing very tight and raising very few hands, then a player who has been rasing constantly.  If you have been very active running over the table expect your opponents to play back at you at some point.

Now that we have covered what to take into consideration when being 3 bet it is time to look at how to combat habitual 3 bettors.  The first and most obvious solution is tighten up your rasing range.  Play stronger hands that can safely call or re-raise a 3 bet.  This is the best solution of newer players and when you are out of position.

You can often slow down 3 bettors by 4 betting them.  If they are 3 betting frequently, they often will not have a strong hand that can stand a 4 bet.  This will allow you to 4 bet with much weaker hands as a bluff.  Once they realize that you will not easily give up when you are 3 bet, they will slow down.  This can be a very high variance play, especially when you are out of position.

Another option is calling their 3 bet and taking the pot away from them on the flop.  We know they can not always have a strong hand if they are 3 betting that often, by calling the 3 bet then rasing the flop, or even calling the flop then betting the turn you will be able to win the pot on most occasions.  Calling a 3 bet is a better option of you are in position.  Out of position it can be very difficult to play after the flop.

Although these general guidelines will help with 3 bettors it is always best to look at each opponent individually.  Watch them and see what kinds of hands they are 3 betting and from what positions.  Some players will call raises with hands like AQ and JJ and 3 bet their really strong and weak hands.  Some players like to call with small pocket pairs while others always 3 bet them.  Watch every hand closely especially those that go to showdown to learn more about your opponents 3 betting habits and you will be better equipped to make correct decisions when they 3 bet you.