What is 3Betting?
3Betting is the term used for when you make the 3rd bet in the round, i.e. a re-raise of a re-raise. In pre-flop a 3bet is simply re-raise since the blinds are technically considered the first bet in that round. A pre-flop 3bet is almost always 3x the size of the initial raise. For example, we’re sat in a $1/$2 game and the UTG open-raises to $8, which we then decide to 3bet to $24.
The idea of 3betting with premium hands is that it enables you to get more money into the pot whilt also giving you a chance of taking it down right there. Generally speaking when you have premium hands you want to play them hard and fast. If I have KK or AA for example then I’ll be happy stacking off with a weaker opponent pre-flop such as 77 who I have dominated at the time, rather than having to wait to see the flop and make a move.
I n terms of how often and with which hands you should 3bet with, I would say that you should be 3betting approximately 5-10% of your starting hands. The exact amount depends on how loose or tight you are playing. A typical TAG for example will only be 3betting 5% of his hands, this basically includes AJ/JJ+. A LAG, who by definition has a wider starting hand range and plays more loosely, will 3bet up to 10% of his hands, including sub-premium hands such as QJo or KQs from late position. Importantly, as you begin to move up to the mid-stakes games such as $2/$4 and $3/$4, 3betting light and 3bet bluffing becomes extremely common. 3Betting light is basically when you 3bet with marginal hands like 67s or 10Js from LP or CO in the hope of stealing the blinds and dead money in the pot. When using HUD stats this is shown by their “Attempt to Steal” figures.
One of the important factors when it comes to 3betting is the “gap concept”. The gap concept, which was developed by David Slansky, states that you’d theoretically need a better hand to call a raise then if you were to be raising in that position. For example, you might be able to raise 1010 in mid-position but in order to call a raise from a MP player you’ll need JJ+. The idea is that predicated on the advantages of having table position and being first to act or the “first move advantage”. Once an opponent has raised in front of you the ball is very much in his court, and you’ll need a pretty good hand to be able to call him. In actual fact, any hand that is good enough to call a 3bet you should be 4betting anyway. For example, if I have KK in BB and the CO 3bets then I should be 4betting him for value since the only thing that beats me is pocket aces.
Adjusting Your 3Betting Range
As you move from the micro-stakes to low stakes games i.e. NL50+ you’re going to need to adjust your 3betting range depending on the opponents at your table, your table image and your table position. For example, on a very weak and tight table I will be opening up my 3bet bluff and value range to include mid-pocket pairs, Ace suited and even broadway cards like JQ. On a loose table with lots of regs however I’m going to want to tighten up my 3bet bluff and value range so that I don’t run into trouble. You’ll find that you learn to 3bet more successfully when you can out-level your opponents and narrow down their own 3betting range a lot more. For example if I know my opponent is 3betting light with A7+ or 22+ then I can start 4betting for value with AJ+/JJ+ type hands. Likewise, if he is only 3betting with AJ+/JJ+ hands then there really isn’t any room for 4bet bluffing or for value.