How to play against 3bets

    • yeahyoung0312
      yeahyoung0312
      Bronze
      Joined: 16.12.2009 Posts: 340
      I've been playing NL10SH for 2 weeks (with about 30k hands). My stats are 22/18/7.6/2 so I think I am fairly loose. I can't complain when people adjust to my looseness by 3betting me, either more lightly or more tightly. I just found playing against 3b is a crucial, crucial component of my game.

      At the beginning, I flat call 3b a lot. I soon found that a leak. Unless I hit a monster, I usually have to fold to cbets on the flop. A lot of the times I fell into reversed implied odds, typically with a dominated A (AJ against AQ, AQ against AK, etc).

      Then I tried to mix up between folding and 4betting. I fold most of my hands (including AJo, QKo) to 3bets and 4bet premium hands (AA - QQ, AK) while mixing with bluffs (with folding hands like KTs, JTs). I soon realized there are several problems with this approach:

      1) Folding most OR to 3b is not the optimal play. It rewards the 3better, encouraging them to 3b more against me and force me to tighten up (which I hates). It also means giving up huge equity in the long run.

      2) 4b + 4b bluff also do not seem to profit. The price of 4b bluff is high (say 2.5x the 3b) that it has to work more than half of the times to profit. Another situation I found tough is that if opponent flat calls the 4b bluff then it

      really sucks. The pot is so big and crying for a cbet, but at the same time the risk of being trapped is huge.

      Now I am thinking about going back to a mixed strategy of flat call, fold, and 4bet. Here are some factors I would consider:

      1) Position. Calling a 3b in position is not a big mistake but out of position really sucks. In position I flat call AJ (sometimes AQ), KQ, and small pocket pairs. OOP I fold AJ (because of the reversed implied odds), KQ (same reason, being dominated a lot), and only call with small pocket pairs for implied odds.

      2) Opponents. If the opponent has a 3b percentage around 4-7 then I flat call for implied odds while fold AJ and 4betting AQ. If the opponent is aggressive and 3b lightly then I tend to 4b more than just flat call as there are usually 0 implied odds postflop. Also if I think I can outplay an weak opponent postflop I will flat call more.

      3) Starting hand. IMO, AJ, JJ, and AQ are the 3 most tricky hands and I'm usually happy to either take the pot down or fold preflop. Suited connectors (even suited one-gappers) and small pocket pairs are fairly good hands to flat call. TwiceT suggests flat calling 3bet with AA too. I think it's a good idea when the opponent is tight aggressive but if the opponent is a lag with 0 implied odds then it might be better just to take the pot down with a 4b.

      Well there are my thoughts. I am pretty sure I miss something and there might be better and simpler ways to approach this topic. Suggestions? Thoughts? Experiences? Thanks in advance!
  • 8 replies
    • yeahyoung0312
      yeahyoung0312
      Bronze
      Joined: 16.12.2009 Posts: 340
      Just found this comment from another thread, very insightful. Seems like I do set-mining too often...

      Pzhon:

      “It is usually a losing strategy to call a 3-bet with a low pocket pair for set value alone. You don't need to protect yourself against a losing strategy. If you try to get away from AA more frequently, then you will be vulnerable to getting bluffed off too much of your range.

      It can be profitable to set-mine in raised pots with 100 bb stacks against some players. You do want to be a less profitable target. The solution is not to make huge raises with AA, but instead to raise a wider range, and not to pay off with as much of your range or with your whole stack. Raise with AK, and then get away from AK unimproved when they have a set. Raise with JJ, and don't stack off on a king-high flop. Raise with T9s, and back off when your cbet is called or raised unless you have a big hand or a big draw. Be particularly cautious in multiway pots.

      Have a reason to bet. Do not bet just because you have been betting, or to look strong. Bet when you think betting will make more money than not betting. Sometimes you may want to take a pot-control line with one good pair to aim for 2 streets of value instead of 3. For example, you might bet the flop, check the turn, and then call the river or bet if the river is checked to you. Against a calling station, this will get less value when they have top pair or second pair, but against players who set-mine a lot, this might get almost as much value from weaker 1-pair hands while making set-mining unprofitable”
    • tokyoaces
      tokyoaces
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.04.2009 Posts: 1,883
      One overall thought: If you folded every single 3bet hand, excepting hands you would trivially 4bet with, you would still crush NL10.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      1) Folding most OR to 3b is not the optimal play. It rewards the 3better, encouraging them to 3b more against me and force me to tighten up (which I hates). It also means giving up huge equity in the long run.
      It doesn't mean any of these things. Folding to a 3% guy and folding to a 30% guy are completely different. Folding when you would be in position and out of position are completely different.

      Open up equliator and run it yourself. Post the hands for evaluation.

      In general calling is a much bigger mistake than folding.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      2) 4b + 4b bluff also do not seem to profit.
      You are bluffing the wrong opponents with the wrong hands. If you are going to 4bet bluff do it with Ax suited or suited connectors. Don't do it with premium hands or hands that have no ability to flop big.

      Also never ever 4bet bluff out of position. Seriously.

      (There's also the whole advice about never bluffing at the micros ...)

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      1) Position. Calling a 3b in position is not a big mistake but out of position really sucks. In position I flat call AJ (sometimes AQ), KQ, and small pocket pairs.
      These are all the wrong hands to be flatting with. You want hands that flop big or flop nothing. If someone 3bet you and you hit middle set are you really happy getting it in knowing he might have top set? You want hands that flop big and beat 2-pair, top-set, etc.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      2) Opponents. If the opponent has a 3b percentage around 4-7
      This shows me you have no idea what the top 7% of hands is. Go find out.


      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      3) Starting hand. IMO, AJ, JJ, and AQ are the 3 most tricky hands and I'm usually happy to either take the pot down or fold preflop. Suited connectors (even suited one-gappers) and small pocket pairs are fairly good hands to flat call.
      You forgot "in position" at the end. :D

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      TwiceT suggests flat calling 3bet with AA too.
      Does that suggestion apply to your stakes and your opponents? (It sounds like a balancing move which isn't going to be that useful at NL10.)
    • yeahyoung0312
      yeahyoung0312
      Bronze
      Joined: 16.12.2009 Posts: 340
      Thanks a lot tokyoaces. That's exactly the kind of feedback I am looking for. It seems that I really learned and misapplied a lot of concepts, some of which are irrelevant for NL10.

      Originally posted by tokyoaces
      One overall thought: If you folded every single 3bet hand, excepting hands you would trivially 4bet with, you would still crush NL10.
      Do you mean without any 4bet bluff, this is still, in general, a winning strategy in NL10?

      Originally posted by tokyoaces
      It doesn't mean any of these things. Folding to a 3% guy and folding to a 30% guy are completely different. Folding when you would be in position and out of position are completely different.
      You are right... I always assume opponents adjust to my OR range, which might be completely false for NL10. A 3% guy is a 3% guy and 30% guy is a 30% guy, regardless of how I play.

      Would you please explain the position thing? Do you mean that in position I should flat and 4 bet more?

      Originally posted by tokyoaces
      You are bluffing the wrong opponents with the wrong hands. If you are going to 4bet bluff do it with Ax suited or suited connectors. Don't do it with premium hands or hands that have no ability to flop big.
      Also never ever 4bet bluff out of position. Seriously.
      (There's also the whole advice about never bluffing at the micros ...)
      Thanks for the advice about 4bet bluffing hands. I see the point of 4 betting with Ax suited.

      I am not sure what exactly are the non-bluffing "premium" hands you mentioned. I assume TT, JJ, and AJ, AQ?

      And I assume that when someone push to the 4-bet bluff, always call with Ax suited and fold suited connectors ?

      Originally posted by tokyoaces
      These are all the wrong hands to be flatting with. You want hands that flop big or flop nothing. If someone 3bet you and you hit middle set are you really happy getting it in knowing he might have top set? You want hands that flop big and beat 2-pair, top-set, etc.
      If a mid-set does come then I think going broke is the only option... But you are saying that this type of situation can be avoided by folding small pocket pairs... Interesting. I do notice a lot of good players are just not set miners.

      Originally posted by tokyoaces
      This shows me you have no idea what the top 7% of hands is. Go find out.
      Yes sir...

      So according to Karlson-Sklansky rating, they are 88+, ATs+, and AJo+.

      Hum... that's actually wider than what I thought about 7%.

      And it seems that the preflop decision you suggested are heavily based on hand equity. I always forgot about this fundamental part of poker. Lesson learned.

      Originally posted by tokyoaces
      Does that suggestion apply to your stakes and your opponents? (It sounds like a balancing move which isn't going to be that useful at NL10.)
      That's right. There is no need to balance at NL10. Will keep that in mind.

      Thanks again sir. That really clarify a lot of things!

      Young
    • tokyoaces
      tokyoaces
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.04.2009 Posts: 1,883
      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      Do you mean without any 4bet bluff, this is still, in general, a winning strategy in NL10?
      At least for me AA and KK are definitely 4bets. Maybe if you have a long history with someone you could "make some moves", but mostly I just want to stick it in the middle.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      You are right... I always assume opponents adjust to my OR range, which might be completely false for NL10. A 3% guy is a 3% guy and 30% guy is a 30% guy, regardless of how I play.
      Yup, just watch out for the crazies ... like 65/35 guys. :)

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      Would you please explain the position thing? Do you mean that in position I should flat and 4 bet more?
      Yeah, you always want to have relative position in big pots. Even at small and mid stakes this is still true. If you are having to try really hard to beat a table at NL10 ... find a juicier table.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      I am not sure what exactly are the non-bluffing "premium" hands you mentioned. I assume TT, JJ, and AJ, AQ?
      Yeah, don't try to "bluff" with hands like that. You want to value 4-bet those. (Against guys who are 3betting a TON. Not the guy with the 3% 3-bet.)

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      And I assume that when someone push to the 4-bet bluff, always call with Ax suited and fold suited connectors ?
      Do you think you will be ahead or have any equity if they push? I personally think that is very rare. You are going to see AA/KK and maybe other big pockets a huge amount of the time. The bluff failed, just fold.

      If they just call then you are hoping to flop a monster.

      Basically you need to think about their range, your equity, and all that.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      If a mid-set does come then I think going broke is the only option... But you are saying that this type of situation can be avoided by folding small pocket pairs... Interesting. I do notice a lot of good players are just not set miners.
      These are 3-bet pots we're talking about. If you flat with small pockets and hit, which is 16% of the time, they could already have an over set and probably have a draw to one. Against most villians 3-bet ranges I don't think you are going to see a profit here.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      And it seems that the preflop decision you suggested are heavily based on hand equity. I always forgot about this fundamental part of poker. Lesson learned.
      Specifically how much equity you have in the pot. When someone 3-bets you need a pretty decent amount of equity to continue. Basically they are suggesting they have you beat so we have to assume you are a dog. Thus if you do "hit" you better be sure they are going to pay up. Winning just the pot as-is is not enough.

      (I hope I got those percentages right. Definitely don't trust my math because I didn't double check it.)
    • yeahyoung0312
      yeahyoung0312
      Bronze
      Joined: 16.12.2009 Posts: 340
      Thanks for the comments!

      Here are some situations (I can't find exact hands from my database but I'm sure it happens) that I still have questions about.

      1) In NL10 hero 4bet with JJ in position and villain (to your surprise) flat called, so the pot is about $4.5 and each has about $7.8 left. The flop comes dry and villain checks to you. Do you cbet?

      2) Say you cbet, villain pushes, do you call or fold? (I guess the answer would depend heavily on the read of the villain)

      3) Say you cbet, villain calls, then donks another dry board, what do you do?

      Then there is another question. Given that I had plenty of times in NL10, pushing my AA against a 4bet then see villain folds. Do you think it might be profitable to just call a 4bet in position and expect villain to lead out on the flop?

      The problem is that you give villain infinite implied odds to improve to a hand on the flop. But it should be profitable against, for example, villain's JJ and a dry board, or AK flopped a K (but will not call a push preflop). Is this kind of situation too specific to ask for?

      Thanks again! I really learned a lot!
    • tokyoaces
      tokyoaces
      Bronze
      Joined: 01.04.2009 Posts: 1,883
      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      1) In NL10 hero 4bet with JJ in position and villain (to your surprise) flat called, so the pot is about $4.5 and each has about $7.8 left. The flop comes dry and villain checks to you. Do you cbet?
      What is his range or what do you think it is? How does that compare with your JJ?

      If I believe I am ahead of his range then I want all the money in the middle. So I'm going to make some kind of value bet in an attempt to get it all in.

      If he's a nit or something and the board likes high cards a 1/2 pot cbet might take it down but I don't think you are too happy if he calls!

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      Then there is another question. Given that I had plenty of times in NL10, pushing my AA against a 4bet then see villain folds. Do you think it might be profitable to just call a 4bet in position and expect villain to lead out on the flop?
      The default NL10 play should be to get it all in with Aces as fast as possible. This is the micros and you don't need anything fancy to get the money. Start worrying about balancing when you notice you have 1k hands on your opponent.

      Originally posted by yeahyoung0312
      The problem is that you give villain infinite implied odds to improve to a hand on the flop. But it should be profitable against, for example, villain's JJ and a dry board, or AK flopped a K (but will not call a push preflop). Is this kind of situation too specific to ask for?
      A very wise wise man once said, "There are only two reasons to bet. 1) Value 2) Bluff". At NL10 you never bluff so that means you should only ever bet for value. A c-bet should be for value and if you are going to c-bet then you expect that your range is ahead of his range based on this flop. That decision is going to be villain dependent.
    • Tim64
      Tim64
      Black
      Joined: 02.11.2008 Posts: 7,401
      I haven't played the micros for a while and I'm sure they're getting more aggressive... but I suspect that you could just leave out 4bet bluffing from your repertoire and have an easier time of it.

      If you don't 4bet bluff, you never have to worry what to do vs a 5bet shove ;)

      GL
    • SiXAT
      SiXAT
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.09.2008 Posts: 263
      on micros turned out to fold agaisnt most of 3x 3bets, only if you have reads on player for being very loose. AK in position you can either call or 4bet( call is better cause that way better hands pps likeTT-QQ can easily find them selves in hard spots postflop and you can profit from it)TT-QQ are hard to play oop, so it really depends on player i call or 4bet QQ, TT, JJ i eiteher fold o call for set value and also as bluff catchers(depends on player).