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How to Play Against 3-Bets

To be a winning poker player, you need to know how to respond to pre-flop aggression just like you need to know how to dish it out. Whether you’re the open raiser and someone 3-bets after you or you’re in late position and facing down a cold 3-bet, having a solid strategy for playing against 3-bets will help you to win more of these big pots.

Before we get into specific strategies, start by asking yourself, “What do most people do incorrectly?”. If you’re playing small games, especially with inexperienced players, then you need to keep in mind that most people don’t 3-bet garbage. If the people that you’re playing against will only 3-bet with the nuts, then your choice is a no-brainer. Go ahead and throw your cards in the muck unless your hand is an absolute monster.

When your opponents don’t play fundamentally sound poker, you can crush them. Look for the exploits. However, if you are playing against strong opponents, then you’ll need a playbook against their 3-bets.

Out of Position

When you’re out of position, you want to do a lot of folding. Having more information is a huge gain in poker, and position gives you exactly that. When you don’t have it, you’ll have a harder time navigating the flop and you’re more likely to end up in tough spots. Fold out the hands like KQo, AJo, and 98s.

However, you can still call with hands that have good implied odds, such as AQs, AJs, KQs, and TT. These hands have more potential to flop the nuts, so you want to keep them around. It’s also good to have a 4-bet bluffing range that’s well polarized to include strong hands like AA and AKs alongside bluffs at the bottom of your range such as AQo, which you can just fold to a shove.

Remember, if your opponents are only 3-betting with the nuts, then 4-bet bluffing is never a good move. And whatever you do, don’t call with KJo!

In Position

The advantage of position gives you more leverage to call down more hands. Simply being able to see the flop, see what your opponent does, and react accordingly will give you more equity.

Especially if you have a deep stack and you’re in position, you can 4-bet more often because you can stick around more. Since your opponent would have to either shove over top of you or call a big bet and then play the flop out of position, you have a lot more fold equity than you would when you’re out of position.

No matter what, don’t forget to adjust to tight players. In that case, ONLY play premium hands! Pressing the fold button may not be the most fun move, but it’s often the right one.


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