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The three bet - when and how?

Three betting is a pre-flop strategy that is very commonplace in today’s aggressive online poker games. It can be a profitable strategy when executed correctly because it will allow you to create an aggressive table image that will help you to get paid off in future hands. If you are playing a tight pre-flop strategy and only three betting your premium hands, then it will be difficult getting paid off because everyone is going to put you on a big hand.

On the other hand, if you have shown a willingness to three-bet a lot before the flop, then other players will start giving your three-bet squeezers much less credit, and thus will be more likely to call you down with a wider range, allowing you to get paid off when you have a monster hand.

Breaking down a three-bet, there are two main reasons why you would want to three-bet. First of all, you definitely should be 3-betting for value with your premium hands. A three-bet value range would look something like JJ+, AK although this range can vary depending on various other factors including the table dynamics.

If there is an online poker fish at the table that is not respecting any 3bets then it makes it profitable to widen your three bet range to include hands like AQ, AJ, etc since your opponent would be calling with lots of broadway cards and suited aces, so you have him or her dominated.

When you both hit the flop hard you have already inflated the size of the pot and made it easier to win your opponent’s stack. And because there calling your three bet with a wide range, it means they will miss the flop around 2 out of 3 hands, so a flop continuation bet will take down the pot even when you miss.

Generally though, you mostly want to be three betting your premium hands such as big pocket pairs and Ace King to narrow down the field since the value of your big pocket pair goes down considerably with more callers. By just calling, you’re allowing speculative hands to see the flop relatively cheap and giving them a chance to potentially suck out on you.

If you are not three-betting for value, the other reason you would three-bet would be to bluff, otherwise known as three betting light. When you utilize a light 3-bet you’re 3betting with a less then premium hand such as A3s, T9s, etc. You wouldn’t normally re-raise with a hand like this, but the plan is to take down the pot straight away. If your opponent is calling three bets a lot, you wouldn’t consider this play, however, considering the majority of online poker players are opening with really wide ranges and folding to 3bets a lot, you would be losing out on a lot of dead money in the pot by not taking advantage of the light 3-bet in your poker arsenal.

In online poker games, even in the low stakes games, players are typically entering the pot with a raise, and there is very little limping. It’s impossible for players to always have a premium hand when they raise, hence the light 3-bet became a popular weapon to steal pots when the original raiser hasn’t got a hand they can continue with, which is going to be a large percentage of the time when facing a three-bet.

But in order for the three-bet bluff to be successful, you want to ensure that you’re not just mindlessly 3-betting against the wrong types of opponent’s, otherwise you’ll just be lighting money on fire. You want to make sure that you have a relatively tight table image and you want to know that the original raiser has a tendency to fold to 3-bets.

If they’re folding to three-bets most of the time and only calling when they have a premium hand, then it will become instantly profitable to three-bet light against these types of players, since you can expect them to fold a lot. That being said, by selecting good hands to utilize the light 3-bet, it allows you have to decent equity in the hand the times you do get called.