When you’re playing No Limit Hold’em, the pre-flop 3-bet can be a significant move. There are several advantages that 3-betting brings you.


  • It is possible to end up winning the pot without even having to see the pot, adding that dead money in the pot to your stacks.
  • You inflate the pot, which especially helps you when you already come in with a strong hand.
  • You can reduce the number of players that see the flop – and you can hang weaker opponents out to dry.


As the stakes go up and you face tougher competition, you’ll see more 3-betting for that reason. Here are some things to consider when you have to respond to a pre-flop 3-bet.


What has the 3-bettor done all game long?

When you play poker, you gain insight into your opponents and must adjust your own strategy accordingly. If you’re facing a very tight player – who only plays aggressively with an ironclad hand, then you should fold when he 3-bets pre-flop, unless your hand is at the top of your own range. Keep doing it unless you catch this player in a bluff.


What if you’re playing a loose player? This player 3-bets all the time, so make some calls and 4-bets to take advantage of this player’s tendency to try and ride a weak hand.


How big should the 3-bet be?

When you’re facing a 3-bet, the biggest question is the raise size because it influences the pot odds. Once you figure out those odds, you can figure out how much equity you need for a call to be profitable. To calculate those odds, divide the size of the bet by the sum of the size of the bet and the current pot size.


Compare raw equity with realized equity

Hands with raw equity are promising, but you don’t get to take advantage of that equity unless it gets to showdown. If you’re facing a player with the right betting frequencies for post-flop, it will be hard for you to get to showdown. If your equity calculations are substandard, then 3-bets will cause you a lot of frustration.


One common hand that causes errors is low pocket pairs. Other principles to remember are that a connected hand moves toward realized equity, and the greater the connection, the greater the realized equity. Also, a suited hand is more likely to realize its equity than a hand that is off-suit.


Consider your position

When you have position over your opponents, you have power in the hand. The closer you get to the button, the more your profits will increase, assuming you’re playing with solid strategy. The button gives you the most information when you make your choices. If you have to deal with a 3-bet while in position, your calling range should widen because of your position. 


Don’t forget to add in some bluffs, in order to give your range some balance. Once you establish that balance, your opponent will have a hard time making decisions. If you err on the side of value, then your opponent will know to fold unless the hand is quite strong. However, if you bluff too often, your opponent will return the favor.

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