If there is one thing that has radically changed over the years, it’s the way re-raises are utilized. For new players entering Texas Hold’em, it may surprise you to learn there was a time when 3-bets only meant premium hands. Whilst there are still tight players around that employ the same strategy, having a balanced range of hands to 3-bet with has become the norm and is a vital part of any winning player’s poker strategy. That’s why in this article I’m going to share why it’s necessary to have higher 3 bet statistics and cite three scenarios you can implement 3-betting more to achieve the desired result; more action and a better table image.
Why you need higher 3 bet stats
With the majority of poker players using HUDs online, your opponents can access real time statistics on you. This has been covered before but I’m re-iterating for beginners that opponents can tell the number of hands you play, with what aggression and can also see how often you 3-bet. Most players are not using their HUD perfectly, but they are at least glancing at them to get instantaneous insights into your basic poker stats.
Therefore, if players can see your 3 bet percentage is low (under 6%), they know that a 3bet from you means the very best hands. Armed with this information they can adjust their pre-flop strategy perfectly. They can play for implied odds or fold without any mental discomfort. That’s why its important to appear to be a little looser with your 3 bets, so you can get paid more or at least cause confusion. Fortunately, most players aren’t analysing their HUD in great detail so there are ways you can increase the 3 bet stats that your opponents are seeing.
Button vs Late Position
A common leak I find among players I coach is they aren’t exploiting position enough pre-flop. One easy adjustment to improve your 3-betting game is to find some easy wins on the button. Even the tightest of players are opening a wide range from hi-jack or the cut-off if the pot is uncontested. Therefore, you have a great opportunity to 3-bet when you’re on the button. You don’t want to go to the well too much but this is certainly a spot to throw in more 3-bets.
Ace-X and King-X are decent candidates for 3 betting here as they have good card removal. Players also like to do this with gapped suited connectors or off-suit paint cards. It’s up to you what you feel comfortable with. The best thing about 3 betting in this spot is that you can expect a decent win rate pre-flop as many players will just muck pre-flop.
Against bad LAGs
The low stakes games have plenty of bad loose aggressive players scattered around. They’ve probably watched some episodes of High Stakes poker or rail the higher games and try to replicate their idols. Others realise that they need to be more aggressive but just employ it badly. Either way, opening up your 3 betting against poor LAG poker players is an easy way to increase your stats and win more pots.
To avoid any confusion, a “bad LAG” is someone that is playing loads of hands in an aggressive manner but lacks the trickery or post-flop skill to actually win with any regularity. Or, they may just be a beginner that visited the site for online casino promotions and stayed for ring game action. They’ll be prone to blow ups or making grave mistakes post-flop that can cost them in the long run. Generally, against this type of player you won’t just win the pot with a 3 bet pre-flop. You may find yourself needing to put in a continuation bet too to get the job done. That’s why against these, I’m recommending discarding the blocker cards that are disconnected but including hands with better playability e.g. suited connectors and suited aces.
Big Blinds vs Small Blind
Lastly, we come to blinds battles, more specifically playing from the BB against SB. This is a very effective way of increasing your perceived 3 betting, particularly in tournaments and low stakes cash. How many times in a session does it fold to SB and they raise? It happens a lot doesn’t it? The reason is simple; they know they only have one opponent to get through to win. That means they are likely to be raising extremely wide in this spot. So, you can 3 bet liberally against them and expect a lot of folds.
Facing a 3 bet in this scenario, they can either play post-flop poker out of position or 4 bet themselves. While you will occasionally get resistance from a tough player, most people will just fold and move on to the next hand. That’s why this is an easy win for you. It’s up to you what hands you want to include in this scenario but even including junky hands can be understandable as you will expect a high fold percentage from most people raising from the SB.
Conclusion & Disclaimer
There you have it, three ways to improve your 3 bet statistics in the future. Implement these strategies and you’ll see a higher win pot percentage. You’ll also be more balanced and get paid off by those trying to use their HUD. In the modern era, playing a basic way isn’t enough. That’s why for any part-time poker player wanting to earn more, 3 betting more is necessary.
A small disclaimer that the suggestions in this article require stack depths to be greater than 25BBs. The tips in this article are specifically for games where stacks are deeper i.e. cash games or slower structured tournaments. I wouldn’t suggest including them in turbo SNGs for instance.