What is 3-Bet? An Ultimate Guide of When and How Much to 3-Bet

 

What is a 3-Bet?

When there is a raise followed by another raise, this is referred to as a 3-bet. Following raises are referred to as a 4-bet, 5-bet, and so on.

 

Assume another player raises preflop, giving you the choice of call, fold, or re-raise. If you opt to re-raise, this is referred to as a 3-bet, and you are the 3-bettor in the hand.

 

Three-bets are classified into two types:

 

  • 3-Bet Value

The value 3-bet is the "classic" 3-bet and functions similarly to any other value bet. You feel you have the greatest hand and want to put more money into the pot while you're ahead.


  • 3-Bet Light

When you re-raise a pre-flop raiser with a hand that isn't the best at the time but still has value for a number of reasons, you're making a "light" three-bet.

 

A light three-bet is considered a semi-bluff. Essentially, your initial goal is to win the pot right away. You want your opponent to fold in response to your re-raise.

 

 

Why Do We 3-Bet?

  • Making your opponent’s decisions more difficult

Many players start out 3-betting with only premium hands. We’re talking QQ+, maybe JJ and AK if they’re in an ambitious mood. Such a strategy is far too conservative.


If you only 3-bet JJ or better, you become easy to play against. Your opponents can confidently fold all but their strongest hands against your 3-bets, preventing you from extracting value with your monsters.


Including several non-premium hands in your 3-bet range makes you much more difficult to play against.


  • Isolating weak players

When you 3-bet after a weak player raises preflop, you force players behind to fold that may have played for a single raise. Additionally, it forces the weak player to decide they are likely unprepared for due to their lack of experience.


Unless the opener happens to hold a premium hand, they’re going to be up a creek without a paddle.


  • Reducing the average number of players in the pot

As more players enter the pot, the equity of your range decreases. A 3-bet will usually force some players out before the flop, making it more likely that you will win the hand.


  • Giving you a chance to pick up the pot preflop

Calling an open-raise gives you no chance to pick up the pot preflop, but 3-betting does.


What is a Good 3-Bet Percentage?

Strong, winning players do not 3-bet only their strongest hands. At the low stakes, a good 3-bet percentage will be around 5%–9%. Players can win aggressively with 3-bet percentages as high as 11%, however generally for beginners it is much easier to play with a tighter 3-bet range.


It is much easier to play against a player that 3-bets only 2%–3% of their hands compared to a player who 3-bets 6%–8% of their hands. When you are against the first player, you know that they probably only have JJ+ and you can therefore easily fold hands against their 3-bet range.


When and Where to 3-Bet Light?

You should 3-bet light when:


  • You want to 3-bet light with mid connectors/suited connectors like 67, 78 and 89, or 1 gap suited connectors like 68 and 79.
  • You should 3-bet light in position. Playing a 3-bet pot out of position is tricky (although not impossible).
  • You should mostly 3-bet raisers from LP. Raisers from EP are more likely to turn up with a strong hand.
  • You should try 3-betting light against TAG (Tight-Aggressive) and semi-TAG players.


An optimum spot to 3-bet light is when a TAG from LP makes a raise when you are on the button or in the CO.


An important point to remember is that you do not want to 3-bet light against players who are either:


  • Super tight and are only going to raise with supreme hands. Hence our 3-bet definitely gets called.
  • Super loose and will call regardless. We lose all of our fold equity in the hand with these players.


An 3-Bet Light Example

Example

SB: $200

BB: $200

UTG: $200

MP: $200

CO: $200

Hero (BTN): $200


Pre Flop: ($3) Hero is BTN with 7c 8c

1 fold, MP raises to $8, 1 fold, Hero raises to $30, 2 folds


Flop: ($66) 2s Jh 6d (2 players)

MP checks, Hero bets $45, MP folds


Our opponent here clearly made a poor call when we 3-bet, as we represented a very strong hand like QQ+ or AK, so the chances are that he called with a hand like AJ+ and hoped for the best.


Even if our opponent did hold a hand like QQ or AJ, it is very difficult for them to call for the fear of us holding Aces or Kings, which is why the continuation bet brings home so much money due to the 3-bet before the flop.


How to Play Against 3-Bets?

If you have raised preflop and are facing a 3-bet, the first step is to look at your opponent’s 3-bet percentage from the position they are in. For example, good players usually have a much higher 3-betting range from the small blind than from middle position.


What do you do in this case? With almost all your range, you fold. Why? Against someone who is 3-betting purely for value, you beat them by folding exploitatively.


What Do You Do Against an Active 3-Better to Your Left?

It can be incredibly frustrating to play at a table where someone seems to be 3-betting your opens again and again. Against a weak, overly aggressive player, you can combat their strategy by either 4-betting light or simply calling them with a strong range of hands and letting them bluff off their stack when you catch a piece of the board.


Against a strong, aggressive 3-better to your left, you will be playing large pots out of position with a capped range versus their uncapped range when you flat call. This is one of the toughest spots to play profitably in poker. While using a good 4-betting strategy and analyzing their 3-bet range to discover which hands to call with is the long-term strategy for success, as a beginner it simply may be better to leave the table.


If you do decide to stay at the table (maybe because there are many other poor players there), then the quickest and easiest way to adapt is to simply start raising a tighter range of hands first into the pot so that your range can handle the heat of their active 3-betting.

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