Three Betting

If you have ever played short handed poker games online then you would no doubt be very familiar with three-betting, which is a fancy word that basically refers to re-raising pre-flop. Not only is it something you will definitely want to incorporate in the more aggressive 6-Max online games, you will also want to learn how to react to three-bets from other players who are looking to put the pressure on you. The aim of this article will be to explain the main reasons for three betting. It's a critical concept to understand because when you re-raise, you are inflating the pot, and therefore any mistakes which you make, will prove to be more costly, so you definitely want to have a solid three betting pre-flop strategy in place.

There are two main reasons for three-betting. The first reason is betting for value when you have a premium starting hand such as QQ, KK, AA, or AK. Three betting for value shouldn't need much of an explanation. You have a big hand and want to start building the pot before the flop. Typically you will three-bet with a big pair regardless of what position you are in at the table, unless you were the first player to act, in which case you would be the first raise. When you have a big pocket pair, making a nice sized re-raise helps to narrow down the field, increasing your chances of winning the hand. Even if you have pocket Aces, the best starting hand in Texas hold'em, the value of this hand goes down considerably once you get a number of callers.

In terms of your value 3bet range, one of the things to think about it is your opponent's and whether you can expect to extract more value by widening the range of hands that you three bet. You would want to deviate from the standard strategy of only 3betting the top 3-4% of hands when playing against loose players that are never folding to three bets. In these situations, it would make sense to include other hands like AQ, AJ, KQ, etc, because these hands are still dominating hands your opponent is calling with. Even if you happen to miss on the flop, a flop continuation bet will take it down, since you have initiative in the hand.

The second type of three-bet is the light 3bet. This is done with hands that you wouldn't normally 3bet for value, so in other words it's done with non-premium hands. Unlike a value three-bet where you don't mind inflating the pot and getting 1-2 other callers, the objective with this three-bet is to get a folds pre-flop. Three betting light is commonplace especially in 6-Max games online, because most players are raising with a much wider range of hands, so there will be lots of weaker hands in their range. More often then not, a player will have to fold to the 3bet because their hand is not good enough to continue with since they're not only worried about calling the initial raise, but will probably expect additional big bets on the flop and later streets.

One of the big advantages of integrating a light 3betting strategy is that it creates an aggressive pre-flop image, which will allow you to get paid off with when you actually have a hand. There is only so many times you can 3bet before a player will get frustrated and start playing back at you, and hopefully for your sake, your dealt Aces when they decide to play back. By only three-betting your premium hands, if you are playing against any semi observant opponent they will pickup that you only raise your big hands making it difficult to get paid off.

Creating an aggressive pre-flop image doesn't have to be risky at all. If you pick the right opponents to three-bet as a bluff, you can be very confident that you will get a fold the majority of the time. Don't just three-bet lots of hands for the sake of creating a certain table image, play each situation for what it's worth. You also want to think about what type of hands you should light 3bet with. Although the plan is to get folds before the flop, it doesn't hurt to pick hands that have decent equity for the times you do actually get called. Some hands you might think about 3betting with include Ace rags and King rags, when suited they can be better since they have more equity and semi bluffing potential. Even though you're not hugely confident of having the best hand when you flop to pair in a 3bet pot, when you do hit you will have the best hand a decent amount of the time. Hands like A2-A5 also have straight potential and when you do hit the flop hard your hand is well disguised too.