4 Bet Poker – The Basics

4 bet poker

In an ever-increasing aggressive poker environment, new moves and strategies must be introduced to keep yourself ahead of the competition. The 4 bet is just one of the many plays you can use to counter aggressive opponents. In this article, we’ll look at what a 4 bet is, how to use it and considerations to factor in.  

What is a 4 Bet? 

A 4 bet is where there’s been a pre-flop raise, a re-raise (aka 3 bet) and then another raise on top. The 4th raise hence 4 bet.  

What Does a 4 Bet Mean?

Generally speaking, a 4 bet preflop is a significant sign of strength. You’re basically telling your opponent you have a monster hand like aces or kings and prepared to commit pre-flop if need be. Therefore, you are representing pocket aces or kings. This can be widened when the pre-flop raises are later position, but it is what your opponents think you’re representing when you do this. 

Years ago, it’s fair to say a 4 bet was aces, kings or big slick. However, as online poker has become more aggressive, people are more inclined to try bluffs and exploit opponents who are very aggressive pre-flop. As with any bluff, there are factors you need to consider before trying this play. 

Things to Consider when 4 Betting Lightly

A 4 bet is usually made for value, there are times to consider doing so as bluff. Context is everything in poker, as it is with the 4 bet.

How Active is Your Opponent?

Before throwing in a 4 bet willy nilly, you really need to weigh up how active your opponent is. What’s the HUD stats tell you? Does he have a high 3 bet %? Is he very aggressive? It’s all well and good trying to put a 4 bet in but if it’s against someone who is only 3 betting the best hands, there’s no point trying a bluff is there?

What’s the Stack Sizes Like?

As with most poker decisions, the stack size of you and your opponent are a relevant factor. If your opponent’s 3 bet has essentially pot committed him, then there is really no point trying to pull a 4 bet bluff. Secondly, if he’s pot committed he’s unlikely to have done it lightly in the first place. However, if effective stacks are deep, you have more flexibility and potentially get away with a light 4 bet.

What is Your Table Image Like?

In live poker, table image goes a long way. People are one tabling and will pick up on things far easier than if they are 4 tabling. If your table image is poor, it makes a 4 bet bluff much harder to get through. Do you really think someone will fold a decent pair or big ace if you’ve been seen showing down bluffs or making light re-raises?

Whilst online poker has less emphasis on your table image, people use HUDs and will notice if you’ve been active pre-flop too. Therefore, your 4 bet is more likely to work if your perceived image is solid.

The Positions Involved

The positions of the players involved in the hand are possibly the more important part to factor. An under the gun raise, followed by an under the gun +1 3bet is almost never a bluff. Conversely, a cut-off open and button 3 bet is far more likely to be wider ranges. This is an incredibly important thing to bear in mind when deciding to 4 bet bluff or not.

Do You Have Blockers?

Holding a hand containing an ace or paint cards like king queen are useful. They provide blockers to your opponents possible hands and make hands like pocket aces through to queens less likely.

Final Thoughts

4 Betting is going to be for value the vast majority of the time. Please don’t go into your next session 4 betting all over the place as you will lose money, guaranteed. I hope this article gives you pause for thought next time you’ve been 3 bet or seen a 3 bet ahead of you. Weigh up the context of the hand. Facing opponents that are active, prone to pre-flop aggression, deep stacked and likely to respect your 4 bet, go for it. If you have very few of these options, don’t get involved.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d enjoy our article on min raising, small ball or 3 bet?

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Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: info@texasholdemquestions.com