How to Play a 3-Bet in Texas Holdem?

Lack of experience in dealing with them

Almost all poker players at some point in their poker career will consider the weakest aspect of their poker strategy to be the 3bet floor. This is for a variety of reasons. First, because 3bet pots are less frequent than single-raise pots, players lack the experience to deal with them. In addition, most players who don’t focus on learning poker theory use an experimental, faulty method to improve their play, so their play suffers in situations that don’t happen often. But this isn’t a problem for us, because almost every previously discussed concept applies to 3bet bottom pots.

Secondly, players are more likely to remember their mistakes in 3bet bottoms because such bottoms are much bigger and the cost of mistakes is too high. Therefore, they are more likely to be annoyed. However, for most players, if they feel they played a good hand and just got unlucky, they will more easily accept losing a big bottom pot. Therefore, our focus is on the theoretical aspects of 3bet pots rather than emotional control, because one of the advantages of playing well is that – we are less likely to make a big mistake and lose our emotional control as a result.

Finally, 3bet bottom pots are often difficult to game because the 3bet player usually holds a polarizing range in an unfavorable position, while the player calling the 3bet holds a tight range in a favorable position. If we are the 3bet initiator, our range will be a more playable range because super strong and super weak hands are usually more playable than marginal strength hands. However, playing from an unfavorable position is often difficult, even if our range is polarized. Similarly, even though we usually have a positional advantage, if we are calling a 3bet side, our range will include many medium-strength hands, and when faced with multiple bets, it is often difficult to determine which is the best strategy to call or fold.

That said, it is important not to deal with the 3bet floor with any sense of trepidation. While it’s important to take a risk with more money than usual, you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to play poorly. The ideal poker play is aggressive, and it often requires us to make big bluffs in 3bet pots or to call with a bluffing hand. We just have to accept the fact that “a lot of money is at risk” and that “we would rather play big pots with cards that are far from the nuts”.

Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Optimal betting scale formula

If we 3bet to 12BB preflop, and the initial raiser calls, the flopped circle will have a pot size of about 25BB. If our range is perfectly bipolar, the optimal betting scale formula suggests that we should make enough bets to double the pot on every street.

Initial pot size x number of betting turns left in the pot growth rate = Final pot size

25R3 = 200 ==> R = 2

Here: 25 is the initial pot size, 200 is the final pot size, and R is the growth rate.

So, if the pot is to grow to twice its size on each street, we should make 0.5 pot-size bets on the flop, turn and river laps

2SPS = SPS + 2bet size

==> SPS = 2bet size

==> bet size = 0.5SPS

Here SPS is the initial pot size.

Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Squeezed pot

If the flopped pot is over 25BB, which is usually a squeezed pot, then a bet of slightly less than 0.5 bet size in each betting circle will be able to hit all-in on the river. Similarly, when the button player raises first and we 3bet in the blinds, the pot is usually less than 25 BB, and when this happens, we need to bet slightly larger on each street in order to get all-in on the river. However, while it is important to make slight scaling adjustments based on the size of the pot on the flop, usually making a bet about half the size of the pot will get us close to an all-in on the river.

So again, we can go back and see what percentage of value bets we would need for our flop ring bets if we were betting with a perfect bipolar range on the flop. If we bet a half-bet on the river circle, our opponent will risk half a pot-sized pot of money to win a half-bet of money. This requires that 75% of our river circle bets must be value bets to keep our opponent with a bluff-catching hand unbiased against the call.

1.5(1 – X) – 0.5X = 0 ==> X = 0.75

As mentioned before, when we bet on the river circle with a balanced range, our opponents in fact lose money, but if we check, because our range is perfectly bipolar, our opponents always win. Therefore, if we make a 0.5 pot-sized bet on the turn, our opponent will again risk 0.5 pot-sized money to win 1.5 pot-sized money. Therefore, after betting on the turn, the river must be bet with a balanced range at 75%. Likewise, if we make a 0.5 pot-sized bet on the flop, the turn must be bet at 75%. Therefore, we should bet on the turn at 75% after a flop bet, on the river at 75% after a turn bet, and 75% of our river bets need to be value bets. This results in 42.2% of our flop circle bets needing to be value bets.

0.422 = 0.75 x 0.75 x 0.75

Here: the first 0.75 is the betting frequency on the turn, the second 0.75 is the betting frequency on the river, and the third 0.75 is the percentage of value bets on the river.

Furthermore, if we continue to use the assumptions from the previous section and assume that our value bets have an 85% win rate and our bluffs have a 15% win rate, then our flop circle bets should have about 38.9% of our value bets. The reason why our value bets are 85% and 15% respectively, as opposed to the 80% and 20% used earlier in the book, is that our 3bet range is quite polarized, which makes it more difficult for strong hands to be reversed.

0.85X + 0.15(1 – X) = 0.422 ==> X = 0.389

It should come as no surprise that our flop circle betting range needs to be made up mostly of value cards in a 3bet pot as opposed to a single raise preflop. This is because, in the 3bet bottom pot, our bets are smaller relative to the bottom pot size, and our opponents are getting better prices per street as a result. Because of this, comes our next general rule.

In a 3bet bottom pot, our flop circle bet should be three bluffs for every two hands of super value.

While balancing a flop ring betting range in a 3bet bottom pot may seem difficult at first, as our bets require more value bets, this can be taken into account preflop when you design your 3bet range. More specifically, by 3betting preflop with our strong pairs and AK, we ensure that we have some good hands that are strong enough to make value bets on any public side of the board. Also, we should not often bet with our entire range on the flop circle. Many 3bet bluffs come with a high card, such as A♥ 5♥ and K♦ 9♦, which are able to hit a weak top pair on the flop circle (a very suitable check-call bottom card).

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