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Out of position 3 handed



Out of Position 3handed

from firsttsunami

Poker is a game of incomplete information. The player with the most information can make the best decisions. Mistakes arise due to a lack or the misinterpretation of information. Logically thinking, this means that the player with the most information makes the least mistakes and wins the most.

In regards to the revelation of information about your own hand and receiving information about the hands of your opponents, the position at the table is very important in poker. The player who has to act first not only gives away information about his hand, but also has the least amount of information about the hands of his opponent because the players behind him haven't acted yet.

Situations in which we are playing against several opponents, at least two, and have to act first are the toughest ones. We are out of position and have to think about how we are going to continue playing the hand.

In order to create a plan of action for the hand, we have to evaluate our equity against the ranges of our opponents and have to check certain assumptions which are essential to reach a decision.

As it is mathematically correct to let the pot become very large if you have an equity edge and because these situations are very easy to play because a check/raise is always the correct play, we want to deal with hands and situations where we are below the average equity. In some situations, it might be better to play these hands aggressively due to strategy reasons.

The first two sample hands look similar, but have to be evaluated on a different basis.


Lets look at this sample hand:

5.00/10.00 Fixed-Limit Hold'em (6 handed)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 5, 5
2 folds, CO raises, BU calls, SB folds, Hero calls.

Flop: (6.40 SB) 8, 8, 9 (3 players)
Hero checks, CO bets, BU calls. Hero?

The following reasons and assumptions help us to decide whether it is correct to play the hand aggresively or not:

  • The danger of a freecard on the turn is very high

    If the probability of a turn bet is very low, maybe because the PFA is a weak player who rarely bets the turn again, we should play the hand aggressively. The disadvantage of our position becomes very clear when we consider the possibility of the button taking free card. In order to compensate for this disadvantage, we have to take the initiative in order to avoid a free card. In turn, this means that if we don't have an edge and the PFA will basically always bet the turn again, it would be correct to stay passive and play check/call.

  • Most of the turn cards will lower our equity.

    The more outs our opponents have against us, and the more turn cards would lower our equity, the better it is to just call on the flop to see a turn. This is because we could easily fold on many turn cards. We will only have invested 0.5BB at max. If we had check/raised, we would have invested 1.5BB.

  • The opponent pays attention to balancing

    If our opponent pays attention to balancing and our equity deficit isn't that great, we should play the hand aggressively because he could interpret our "check/call, donk" line as a weakness and raise the turn with a lot of hands to see a free showdown. However many tags on the lower limits don't do this and rather call or fold with weaker hands. Therefore balancing can basically be disregarded on the lower limits.


In general we should donk if a card hits which doesn't lower our equity and fold to a raise. Many opponents don't semi bluff if someone donks the turn but only raise strong made hands. Our plan is to play donk/fold on the turn. When a bad card hits the board we will play check/fold. We will play check/call if the third opponent calls or folds.

Exception: The opponent auto bets the turn and doesn't take a free card. This leaves us with a tough decision if he raises on the turn because he would also raise A high for a free showdown.



BU = 40/5/1.0/43 Fish

5.00/10.00 Fixed-Limit Hold'em (6 handed)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 5, 5
2 folds, CO raises, BU calls, SB folds, Hero calls.

Flop: (6.40 SB) 8, 8, 9 (3 players)
Hero checks, CO bets, BU calls. Hero?

Final Pot: 4.20 BB

We defended our big blind with a pocket pair with odds of 1:5. 1:5 plus additional implied odds are enough if we hit our set and have the chance to win a large pot. We have to evaluate our equity first.

CO: 40.286% { 55+, A2s+, K7s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, 98s, A7o+, K9o+, QTo+, JTo }
BU: 34.616% { 99-22, AJs-A2s, K5s+, Q7s+, J7s+, T7s+, 97s+, 87s, AJo-A5o, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o }
Hero: 25.099% { 5c5h }

We can see that we are way below the average equity in this hand and we should only check/call the flop to see the turn in this position. We have the best hand on the flop most of the time, but our equity doesn't look too good because many turn cards will reduce it a lot. The assumption that many turn cards reduce our equity therefore applies here.

Only cards from 2-6 and an eight would be good cards for us. This makes a total of 22 cards. However the 7 and 9-A are bad cards for us. We don't want to invest any more money if one of these cards hits the board. 7, A-9 make a total of 28 combinations. If any card between 9-A hits, our equity falls to 13-16%. Our equity drops to 23% if a 7 hits. So basically we don't want to invest another bet on the turn 63% of the time. By check raising we would be committing us too often to bet the turn again. Arguments for a check/raise would be that the BU is rather passive and will often check behind on the turn. However the argument against it would be that he likes to see a showdown and generally calls hands with 6 outs or more on the turn and doesn't really fold any better hands. Our equity is very low and because most turn cards are not good for us, we should check/call.


Same opponents as in hand 1

SB = 40/5/1.0/43 Fish

5.00/10.00 Fixed-Limit Hold'em (6 handed)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with Q, T
Hero raises, 2 folds, BU 3-bets, SB calls, BB folds, Hero calls.

Flop: (10.00 SB) J, T, 6 (3 players)
SB checks, Hero checks, BU bets, SB calls.

Final Pot: 6.00 BB

Hero: 31.070% { QsTs }
BU: 40.292% { 88+, ATs+, KQs, AJo+, }
SB: 28.638% { JJ-22, A8s+, K9s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, ATo+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o }

BU 3bets and the SB cold calls 2.7SB. We can see that we are below the average equity here as well. However we are 2% rather than 7% below the average equity as we were in hand 1.

Our costs are therefore lower. Another difference is that fewer cards on the turn can harm our hand. We would like to invest a bet by donking on the turn to avoid a free card. Only an A or a K would be bad cards. If a K hits, the equity will drop to 17% while it would drop to 15% if an A hits the board. All other cards, which don't improve our hand, don't change our equity.

We have 30% equity if any cards between a 2 and a 9 hit the board, 33% if a J hits, 76% if a T hits and 39% if a Q hits. There are only 8 bad but 43 good cards which make up a total of 84% of the turn cards. We therefore want to invest another bet.

The difference becomes very clear here: We basically want to invest more money on most turn cards.

We can conclude: As we want to donk on basically any turn because we don't want to give a free card to the preflop aggressor, who might hold hands like AK and AQ, we should play the hand aggressively on the flop and check raise.


5.00/10.00 Fixed-Limit Hold'em (6 handed)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 5, 5
2 folds, CO raises, BU calls, SB folds, Hero calls.

Flop: (6.40 SB) Q, T, 4 (3 players)
Hero checks, CO bets, BU calls.

Final Pot: 4.20 BB

As we have now discussed two situations in which a raise or a call would be the right option, we have another situation where we should fold the flop straight away.

CO: 40.667% { 66+, A2s+, K6s+, Q8s+, J8s+, T8s+, A7o+, K9o+, QTo+, JTo }
BU: 40.072% { 66+, A2s+, K6s+, Q7s+, J7s+, T7s+, 97s+, 87s, A7o+, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o }
Hero: 19.262% { 5s5c }

We only have 20% equity in this hand. We are 13% below average equity on the flop already and the board can only become worse. We will be behind on the flop most of the time and probably have more outs against us than in the other hands.


As we have seen, there are situations which look similar at first sight, but call for a different way of playing once you have determined the little differences.

When choosing a way of playing OOP against 2 opponents, the equity has to be taken into account, but also the possible development of the game on your table. The more cards could reduce our equity on the turn drastically, the more you should consider choosing a passive line. The higher the danger of a free card is on the turn, the more aggressively you should play.


Comments (4)

#1 mouse89, 14 Oct 08 15:53


#2 Tiitus007, 07 Jun 09 09:40


#3 oliver082298, 05 Dec 09 18:04

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#4 zilvers, 19 Dec 09 14:54