Why we don't call 3bets OOP against regs 100BB deep

    • Bierbaer
      Bierbaer
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.05.2005 Posts: 7,989
      I stumbled over quite a few players struggling with the spot below in the last few weeks, so I thought I might as well just summarize the information in an article, I hope it helps ;-).

      NL Holdem 0.5BB/1BB

      SB (100BB)
      BB (100BB)
      RANDOM PLAYER (100BB)
      Hero (100BB)
      CO/BU[REG] (100BB)

      Dealt to Hero xx

      fold, Hero raises to 3BB, fold, CO/BTN raises to 11-12BB, fold, fold, Hero ???

      It's a common situation for most of us: We raise in MP or the CO and a reg behind us 3bets us.

      So what do we do now?
      With the top of our range (i.e. hands like KK, AA and AK) it's pretty clear: 4bet and get it in.
      Also with hands like 72o up to something like KTs and even ATs it's pretty easy to determine the best play:
      We fold most of the time unless we decide to 4betbluff.

      So the hands left are TT-QQ, AQ and AJ.
      Apparently a lot of poker players struggle with those strong-but-not-premium hands and end up taking the worst line:
      Calling out of position.

      Why is calling the worst line?
      A lot of people reason that by calling strong Ax they can c/c several streets and trap the opponent and they also plan on moving on a lot of flops.
      But as a matter of fact once the pot is around 25BB there's neither room for moving nor are there a lot of possibilities to trap.
      "Moving" means check/raising for the most part, and once there are 25BB in the pot and the opponent bets 1/2 pot (~12BB) you're facing a pot of 37BB - check/raising will lead to a lot of weird spots when the opponent shoves and you only need 25% equity to call but you still have to fold.
      In fact most people just c/f on almost any flop they don't hit.
      This isn't necessarily bad: once someone 3bets you and cbets the flop his range usually is somewhat strong and people are going broke light in 3bet pots, so we don't have too much foldequity and therefore checkraising might not be +EV.
      So we can't checkraise-bluff.

      But we still have the opportunity to trap the opponent, don't we?
      To answer this question let's get a bit more specific: Let's say we open AQo in the CO and BU 3bets, we call.
      The possible scenarios are:

      J high or K high flop:
      We already determined that we end up check/folding most of the time.

      The Q high flop:
      Now it gets interesting, we hit TPTK so let's get some value.
      We probably check every single time (the opponent cbets too much and we want to abuse this) and are faced with the decision to either call or raise.
      Let's just say both options have their merits agaist certain opponents.
      If the opponent 3bets hands like KQ and QJ we might stack them, if he likes to barrel we can just c/c several streets.
      But if we c/r we still don't get it in nearly as often against worse hands as we'd like to: the opponent is just b/folding AK, KJ and other air type of hands and KQ and QJ only make up for 6 combinations each - and he might not even 3bet them all the time.
      AA (3 combos) and KK (6 combos) make up for 9 combos already, so stacking off on the Q high flop isn't -EV but it's not as +EV as we'd like it to be either.

      So we might consider just c/calling the Q high flop - but in this case on the turn we'll quickly realize that there's not much we can do to get additional value: If we check the opponent is giving up a decent amount of the time with air.
      At the same time if we check and he bets we actually aren't too happy about it either: His 2ndbarrelingrange is pretty strong, so we feel like we're getting valuetowned already.
      To prevent the opponent from checking back we could lead out - but now he's just folding all of his bluffs but he still continues with all better hands, so leading out thwarts our diabolic plan to trap him.

      The A high flop:
      Ok so in a nutshell if we don't hit we check/fold most of the time and on Q high boards we don't win too much overall, but we still have A high boards to get some value, right?
      Well, not exactly. The A high board has the same disadvantages as the Q high board - but even worse.
      In regards of check/raising on the Q high board there were KQ and QJ, but on the A high board there's only AJ - and two aces are out so AJ only has 8 combos.
      Also by check/raising we force the opponent to fold all pocket pairs and all of his air.
      Ok no problem, the plan was to trap him anyway.
      So lets say the board is Axx with x T or lower.
      We check/call.
      The turn is x, also T or lower: now the trapping begins - or does it?
      Let's first look at our range in the opponents eyes:
      he 3bet on the CO or BU and another reg coldcalled his 3bet OOP.
      Pretty unlikely the opponent is "bluffcalling" OOP, so he most likely has a good pocket pair or two broadway cards.
      Now there's an A high flop and the opponen check/calls knowing that the pot will be as big as 50BB after his call.
      This screams for strength obviously.

      So to switch back the positions if we check again on the turn the opponent will just check back most pocket pairs because he assumes we have Ax once we c/c on an A high board OOP with so much money in the pot already.
      He will also not bluffbet because he expects to have little foldequity.
      Of course if there are some dynamics going on he might suspect we check/call QQ or JJ sometimes on the flop, but if we're capable of that we are also very likely to just 4bet preflop.

      Having said that we obviously don't ever win much from the opponents bluffs, therefore the plan we came up with preflop is pretty much worthless - the opponent just doesn't play along.

      So to get back to our preflop-decision:
      As we saw calling is obviously not an option. If you are in a spot like this you can 4bet if foldequity+potequity are sufficient and you can also just fold.

      There's nothing wrong with folding, if you can fold here it means the opponent is not 3betting often enough to make 4betting profitable - but that also means he's not putting pressure on you by 3betting light, so you don't have a reason to play back in the first place.

      I picked AQ as an example, but I guess you're able to see the problems you will have with QQ OOP (facing overcards etc).

      Notice that if stacks get deeper or you have some history with the opponent (or reads) the assumptions above might not be accurate any more and there might be a reason to call a 3bet OOP.
      But - even though in poker it's almost always wrong to make general statements - against unknowns it's pretty safe to say that for 100BB it's always wrong to call a 3bet out of position.

      Best regards
      Bierbaer

      PS: I just wrote this and scanned it for mistakes quickly, there might be some left.
      If you see one just post and I will correct it.
  • 20 replies
    • TetraQuark
      TetraQuark
      Bronze
      Joined: 21.05.2008 Posts: 1,520
      Nice post! Thanks! ;)
    • supeyrio
      supeyrio
      Bronze
      Joined: 11.11.2009 Posts: 3,106
      this is also mentioned in balugawhale's $1000 book. nice
    • JuiceQuadre
      JuiceQuadre
      Bronze
      Joined: 05.10.2008 Posts: 2,688
      Nice one =) Love it..
    • justkyle88
      justkyle88
      Bronze
      Joined: 07.05.2008 Posts: 7,596
      Just tagging to find it again to read when I have time
    • purplefizz
      purplefizz
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.03.2008 Posts: 4,508
      BIERBAER, ur a ROCKSTAR :D thanks
    • randomdonk
      randomdonk
      Bronze
      Joined: 02.08.2009 Posts: 1,984
      nice article
    • maya1984
      maya1984
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.12.2008 Posts: 1,741
      Basic stuff, well written.
    • dannyf85
      dannyf85
      Bronze
      Joined: 19.09.2009 Posts: 65
      thanks bierbaer this article opened my eyes a little to 3bet pots OOP, letting go of QQ AQs AK etc against a regs 3bet is something i still strugle with even though i know that most of the time im beat
    • ihufa
      ihufa
      Gold
      Joined: 18.03.2008 Posts: 3,323
      while this tells us exactly why flatting is bad, it also tells us to 3BET RELENTLESSLY IN POSITION :D
    • Fagin
      Fagin
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.05.2008 Posts: 544
      Originally posted by Bierbaer

      In regards of check/raising on the Q high board there were KQ and QJ, but on the A high board there's only AJ - and two aces are out so AJ only has 6 combos.
      .
      Very interesting and nicely written. Something I will have to read a few times to remind myself why I should fold 96% of the time in these spots!

      You did say to point out any errors you missed - with 2 aces out there are 2 remaining, each of which could be combined with any of the 4 J's to give 8 combinations.

      Picky perhaps but if we have V on a fairly tight range anyway then the extra 2 combos make a difference.

      Thanks for the article - gives me some things to think about.
    • Bierbaer
      Bierbaer
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.05.2005 Posts: 7,989
      Originally posted by dannyf85
      thanks bierbaer this article opened my eyes a little to 3bet pots OOP, letting go of QQ AQs AK etc against a regs 3bet is something i still strugle with even though i know that most of the time im beat
      I didn't say you should let go of QQ, AQ and AK - you should just not call it OOP ;-)

      Originally posted by ihufa
      while this tells us exactly why flatting is bad, it also tells us to 3BET RELENTLESSLY IN POSITION :D
      Yep. But be aware that once you 3bet that much the opponent might actually have a valid reason to call your 3bets OOP, after all your range is so weak that he can expect to actually have significant implied odds the times you're bluffing more than one street.

      Originally posted by Fagin
      Originally posted by Bierbaer

      In regards of check/raising on the Q high board there were KQ and QJ, but on the A high board there's only AJ - and two aces are out so AJ only has 6 combos.
      .
      Very interesting and nicely written. Something I will have to read a few times to remind myself why I should fold 96% of the time in these spots!

      You did say to point out any errors you missed - with 2 aces out there are 2 remaining, each of which could be combined with any of the 4 J's to give 8 combinations.

      Picky perhaps but if we have V on a fairly tight range anyway then the extra 2 combos make a difference.

      Thanks for the hint! You're right, I corrected it.
      Btw it's not picky at all: as you say 2 combinations can make a huge difference when the opponents range is small, it could make up for 20% or even more of his range and therefore cause significant differences in our equity.
    • inlovewithamsterdam
      inlovewithamsterdam
      Bronze
      Joined: 08.07.2009 Posts: 666
      Hey,

      Great article, makes a pleasant reading. Very useful for mediocre players like me, as well. Made me realize I've made wrong assumptions.

      You mentioned that there might be some mistakes in there; I think I found one:

      Originally posted by Bierbaer

      KQ and QJ only make up for 6 combinations each - and he might not even 3bet them all the time.
      AA (3 combos) and KK (6 combos) make up for 9 combos already, so stacking off on the Q high flop isn't -EV but it's not as +EV as we'd like it to be either.

      I've been writing it all out on paper and I think there are 8 combinations each for KQ and QJ.

      Sorry about that, but I really want to understand how to include those combinations into my poker thinking, so I need to know If I'm right about your supposed mistake.

      Cheers.
    • MrMardyBum
      MrMardyBum
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.03.2009 Posts: 2,206
      Nice post thanks, hopefully I can try remembering this.


      inlovewithamsterdam: The reason is that we have a Q in our hand and there is a Q on the flop. Leaving only two more Qs to make the combos with. :)

      EDIT** also wrote out on paper and yeah you are right.

      Assuming Qs is in our hand and Qh is on the flop.

      Qd, Kd - Qd, Kh - Qd, Kc - Qd, Ks
      Qc, Kd - Qc, Kh - Qc, Kc - Qc,Ks


      and same for Jacks... Or I am missing something also.
    • supeyrio
      supeyrio
      Bronze
      Joined: 11.11.2009 Posts: 3,106
      question, if we don't call 3bets OOP, won't our fold to 3bet stat be exploitable? because we either 4bet or fold to 3bet. so what range do we 4bet? and what is our calling range for a 5bet? won't we get into tough spots as well with our TT, JJ, QQ? if we call, we are very much against a stronger range, and if we were to fold, we might as well 4bet thrash since we are folding anyway.
    • wasy8
      wasy8
      Black
      Joined: 29.01.2009 Posts: 1,507
      Originally posted by supeyrio
      question, if we don't call 3bets OOP, won't our fold to 3bet stat be exploitable? because we either 4bet or fold to 3bet. so what range do we 4bet? and what is our calling range for a 5bet? won't we get into tough spots as well with our TT, JJ, QQ? if we call, we are very much against a stronger range, and if we were to fold, we might as well 4bet thrash since we are folding anyway.
      Yeah, it might be exploitable, but whether villain takes advantage of it or not is a totally different story. Once you feel he is using it to his advantage and 3betting you relentlessly, you can 4bet bluff him more. When you polarize your range here, it allows you to get it in with hands like TT/JJ/QQ in the future profitably if he is capable of bluff shoving. This can set up pretty insane 3-betting and 4-betting wars with competent regs too, which is a hell of a lot of fun.
    • Bierbaer
      Bierbaer
      Bronze
      Joined: 27.05.2005 Posts: 7,989
      Hey guys,
      I'll correct the mistakes sometime the next days, thx for the hints!


      Originally posted by supeyrio
      question, if we don't call 3bets OOP, won't our fold to 3bet stat be exploitable? because we either 4bet or fold to 3bet. so what range do we 4bet? and what is our calling range for a 5bet? won't we get into tough spots as well with our TT, JJ, QQ? if we call, we are very much against a stronger range, and if we were to fold, we might as well 4bet thrash since we are folding anyway.
      You're right, but:
      Originally posted by Bierbaer
      Notice that if stacks get deeper or you have some history with the opponent (or reads) the assumptions above might not be accurate any more and there might be a reason to call a 3bet OOP.
      But - even though in poker it's almost always wrong to make general statements - against unknowns it's pretty safe to say that for 100BB it's always wrong to call a 3bet out of position.
      So if someone starts 3betting any2 you have history with him and some reads, so this might be a reason to actually start calling his 3bets even OOP.
    • Anssi
      Anssi
      Black
      Joined: 03.07.2008 Posts: 2,173
      I don't think calling 3-bets OOP is that bad. You just should check-raise bluff postflop quite a bit as well and of course check-raise all/most of your value hands as well unless opponent loves to 2/3-barrel. I hate the idea of calling 3-bets with 22-JJ though, rarther have broadways and suited connectors so I can have some equity when called on flop.

      I'm still a huge fan of 4-betting though.
    • supeyrio
      supeyrio
      Bronze
      Joined: 11.11.2009 Posts: 3,106
      @wasy8: its no fun getting into such leveling wars preflop against regs who are on lifetime -ve winnings and don't mind putting in their stack with some semi bluffs. i don't like to increase variance especially when i grind many tables.
      if i play 6 tables, yes way much easier to know what shit they up to.

      @bierbar; thanks
    • peche025
      peche025
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.12.2008 Posts: 1,387
      Bierbaer thanks for the article, it was a good read.
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