What Is The 3 Bet Strategy In Poker?


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With great risks comes great money, whether in the stock market or a poker game. What distinguishes a good poker player from a great one is the absence of fear in the latter towards big pots. Setting themselves up for such a sizable pot involves employing numerous strategies, including the 3 bet strategy.

What Is 3 Bet Poker?

The third bet in a given sequence of bets is deemed a 3 bet. The open raise is called a 2 bet, and a re-raise is a 3 bet in poker. Incorporating the 3 bet strategy is crucial to boosting the player's win rate; it pays more than just cold calling.

A 3-bet range depends on the size of the open bet. To explain, let us assume we have an opponent that usually folds to 3 bets in poker. Then resort to bluffing more often and slowly playing stronger preflop hands against value betting. On the converse, if you have an opponent that never folds to 3 bets, cut back on the bluffing and resort to widening value bets.

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What Advantages Do You Get By 3 Bet In Poker?

It makes the opponent reconsider this hand and delays decision-making on their part.

  • Including non-premium hands in your 3 betting range makes you a player to reckon with, as you will be less predictable to your opponents.
  • It becomes easier to isolate weak players.
  • It may force the weak players to make premature decisions, giving their hands away.
  • It will force some players out before the flop, giving you a better shot at winning the pot.
  • It will offer you a chance to pick up the pot preflop.

Types Of 3 Bets In Poker

  • The Value 3 bet: The traditional 3 bet is when the player believes that they have the best hand and hence would like to get more money into the pot in light of this perceived advantage. The key is to find the opponent’s range and bet accordingly. Against a tight aggressive player, the value 3 bet will be tight, whereas against a loose aggressive player, the player’s range might be wider.
  • The Light 3 bet is when the player re-raises a pre-flop raiser with a hand that is not necessarily rated as the best hand but is of some value. Also known as a semi-bluff, the player's goal in such a bet is to win the pot immediately and get the opponents to fold. Employing a light 3 bet in poker will also get the other players to discard an image of a tight player against your name and help you play a rounded game. The best hands-to-three-bet light are at the top of your folding range.

Types Of Betting Range

  • Merged Ranges:

It consists of premium hands, strong hands, and hands which can be played without bluffing

It is warranted in case –

a. If you are in a position that is unfavourable for calling (for example, small blind)

b. The open raiser is a strong player and might cause trouble post-flop;

c. If the open raiser is calling stations;

d. If other players are calling stations.

  • Polarised Ranges:

It consists of hands at the top and bottom hands namely, premium hands and bluffs

It is warranted in case –

a. If the open raiser often folds to 3 bets;

b. If you hold many hands, that plays better as calls rather than 3 bets.

c. However, avoid polarizing when playing against a fish because, in general, they will call a lot more 3-bets, even out of position. It is best to play value bets against them and avoid bluff hands at all costs.

  • When using a polarised 3 bet strategy, one must use a slightly larger size for a polarised range than a merged range.
  • Bet size must not be solely determined based on the strength of the player’s hand. The position of the player must dictate it. You can get away with a smaller three-bet size when you're in position. This is because you will be the last to act for the entirety of the hand.
  • Whereas three times the original raise was fine in position, it is better to make it four times or more out of position. The larger raise works towards negating the player’s positional disadvantage.

Determining Bet Size

  • Bet size must not be solely determined based on the strength of the player’s hand. The position of the player must dictate it. You can get away with a smaller three-bet size when you're in position. This is because you will be the last to act for the entirety of the hand.
  • Whereas three times the original raise was fine in position, it is better to make it four times or more out of position. The larger raise works towards negating the player’s positional disadvantage.
  • If the player is re-raising a raise and a call, they will have to make the re-raises even larger because the re-raise will have to make it through two players instead of just one.
  • As a general rule, keep your 3 bets sized properly to your position and the number of players left in hand, and you’ll make it easier on yourself in the long run.

Adjustments In Your 3 Bet Strategy

Any modifications to the 3 bet strategy must be made on the following considerations –

  • Post-flop aggression tendency of the open raiser
  • How often does your opponent folds
  • Responses and tendencies of other players on the table
  • The effective stack available
  • The pot equity and fold equity
  • Board texture

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Why should you three-bet more often?

3-betting makes your opponent's decision more difficult.

Many players begin 3-betting with just premium hands. We're talking QQ+, maybe JJ and AK if they're feeling ambitious. Such a method is overly conservative.

If you only 3-bet JJ or better, you'll be simple to beat. Your opponents can confidently fold all but their strongest hands in response to your 3-bets, preventing you from extracting value with monsters.

Having a variety of non-premium hands in your 3-betting range makes you far more tough to beat.

You can isolate weak players by three-betting.

When you 3-bet after a weak player raises preflop, you push people behind you to fold, even if they only raised once. Furthermore, it challenges the inexperienced player to make a decision for which they are unlikely to be prepared.

Unless the opener has a strong hand, they're going to be out of luck.

Three-betting lowers the average number of participants in the pot.

As more players join the pot, the equity of your range diminishes. Consider AK's equity versus one, two, and three random poker hands:

Multiway Pots Poker Strategy Ace-King

A 3-bet typically forces some players to fold before the flop, increasing your chances of winning the hand.

3-betting allows you to pick up the pot before the flop.

Calling an open-raise provides you no opportunity to win the pot preflop, whereas 3-betting does.

Note: A solid 3-betting technique is basically useless if you don't know what to do once your 3-bet is called. This free tutorial will teach you efficient 3-bet pot methods.

When should you merge your three-bet range?

Here are a few instances that justify a merged three-betting range:

The open-raiser is a powerful player who will cause you issues postflop.

You are in a position or condition that is not favourable for calling ranges, such as the small blind.

The open-raiser or player(s) behind are calling the stations.

Assume a powerful player named Doug opens to 2.5BB from middle position, and you are in the cutoff. You want to avoid awkward postflop scenarios with weak cards against Doug, so you decide to utilise the following merged 3-betting strategy:

Cutoff 3-bet technique vs. Strong Lojack

Note: You can call some of the strongest grey hands if you believe your weak calling range will not be exploited.

If you 3-bet with only strong and/or playable cards, you will be more likely to strike the flip, making it difficult for Doug to push you.

When should you polarise your three-bet range?

Polarised 3-bet ranges are comprised of the hands at the top and bottom of our ongoing range. Here are a number of relatively common instances that justify a polarised three-betting range:

The open-raiser folds more than half the time to three-bets.

You have a big number of hands that play better as callers instead of 3-bets.

Assume you are in the large blind, facing a button open-raise to 3BB. Given your outstanding pot odds (calling 2BB to win 4.5BB), you can successfully call with a relatively wide variety of middling hands, as shown below:

What variables necessitate adjustments?

Always be prepared to change your three-betting strategy based on your opponents' patterns. Consider:

How often does your opponent fold?

When facing a player that frequently folds to 3-bets, mix in additional 3-bet bluffs with weak hands. Against an opponent that rarely folds to 3-bets, increase the number of value hands and eliminate some bluffing.

The open-raiser's postflop aggressive inclinations

If the opener plays poorly postflop, you can take advantage of them by bluffing three times and c-betting the flop frequently. Conversely, you should reduce your 3-bet bluffing against opponents with strong postflop skills.

Tendencies of the players behind

Remember to look to your left before selecting how to respond to an open-raise. The more probable you are to be squeezed, the smaller your calling range should be.

It doesn't matter if the cutoff calls; we still have a solid chance of winning the pot with a very playable-suited connector.

Introduction to Squeezing.

The purpose of a squeeze play is to take advantage of the excellent pot odds available while facing a raise and one or more calls.

Squeezes try to achieve identical aims as ordinary 3-bets, but greater sums are required to lessen the likelihood that the pot will go multiway.

In general, if you're up against a raise and one call, raise to around four times the original stake. Against a raising and two callers, you should squeeze closer to 5 times. When out of position, place one additional stake.

These size shortcuts are not set in stone. You will undoubtedly want to adjust your sizing based on your opponents' patterns and range. If you're playing AA against a bunch of calling stations, you can size up even more.


Three-betting is extremely profitable because it balances the player's range, and there is a lot of dead money to partake in. Using the three bets at the pre-flop stage offers an additional advantage, as leading the hand has its perks. Being perceived as strong is only of the many benefits you can enjoy by employing this 3 bet strategy. However, be cautious and use this strategy only when required and never overdo this.

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What Is A 3-Bet In Poker?

  • A 3-bet is the third bet in a betting sequence, involving an initial bet, a raise, and then a re-raise.

When Should I Use The 3-Bet Strategy?

  •  Employ the 3-bet to show strength, isolate opponents, or as a strategic move against aggressive players.

Is 3-Betting Only For Strong Hands?

  • No, players can 3-bet with both strong hands for value and as a bluff with weaker hands to put pressure on opponents.

How Does Position Impact The 3-Bet Strategy?

  • In later positions, players can widen their 3-betting range, whereas in early positions, it's often reserved for stronger hands due to potential multi-way action.

What Are The Risks Of A Poorly Timed 3-Bet?

  • Poorly timed 3-bets can lead to unnecessary exposure of weaker hands, potential losses, and being exploited by observant opponents. Timing and hand selection are crucial.
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