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3bet Calling Ranges, Poker Podcasts, Hand Reading and ‘The Course’ | Q&A | Podcast #98


Sky Matsuhashi

on October 9, 2016

I answer 4 listener Q’s about how to create 3bet calling ranges, my favorite poker podcasts, improving hand reading skills and how to implement lessons from Ed Miller’s book ‘The Course.’

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


3bet Calling Ranges, Poker Podcasts, Hand Reading and ‘The Course’

Question #1 from Oscar (2:25):

Do you have any idea what are the ranges to call against a 3 Bet? I am lost on that part, bro.

Creating 3bet continuance ranges is time consuming, but not too difficult. It takes some work with your opening ranges, Flopzilla and a calculator.

You have to create a different 3bet continuance range for each position that you have an opening range for. I have opening ranges for EP, CO, BTN and SB. Also, your continuance range should be based on the type of player you’re facing a 3bet from. I make mine vs a nitty 3bettor and vs a loose 3bettor. So, my continuance range in the CO vs a nitty player is smaller than my continuance range in the CO vs a loose player.

7 Step Process for Creating 3bet Calling Ranges
1. Know your opening range by position

You need to know this in advance to determine which hands you'll fold to the 3bet after open raising, and which hands you’ll call with and which hands you’ll 4bet with. Count the number of combos within your opening range (ex. a range of 10% will have 130 hands).

2. Decide which hands you'll 4bet with

I consider just two different 3bet ranges that I’ll 4bet against; a nitty value-oriented one, and a loose bluffy one. Count the number of combos you’ll 4bet with, and remove these from your range in Flopzilla.

3. Decide which hands you’ll fold to the 3bet

Count the combos and remove the hands from the range in Flopzilla.

4. The remainder of the hands are what you'll call the 3bet with

Count those combos. Now you should have:

  • A 4betting range with X combos
  • An open/folding range with Y combos
  • A 3bet calling range with Z combos
  • X+Y+Z should equal the total number of hand combos in your opening range. You can’t be calling, 4betting or folding hands you wouldn’t have opened with in the first place.

5. Run the math and see if you’re folding too often

Looking at a quick example: you’re facing a standard 9bb 3bet after your 3bb open. If you're folding more than 67% of the time, than he's making a profitable bluff 3bet with ATC.  The math here is the 9bb bet needs to win a total pot of 13.5bb’s.  So, 9/13.5 is a 67% break-even point. You want your open/folding range to be less than this 67% cut-off point.

6. Compare your continuance range vs the 3betting range using Flopzilla

How much equity do you have vs the range?

7. Now make adjustments to your ranges to tweak your frequencies and equities

If you think you should be folding a little more often, then remove some hands from your calling range. If you think you should be calling more often, put some of your folding range into your calling range.

3bet Calling Range Example

1. You open 9.8% in the EP (130 combos)

Flopzilla 9.8% range

2. Vs a tight 5% 3bettor, you 4bet QQ+ (18 combos), which means you 4bet 14% of your opening range (18/130)

4bet QQ+

3. You fold AJo, KQs and 22-66 (46 combos), which means you fold 35% of your opening range (46/130)

fold 46 combos


4. You call with AJs+, AQo+ and 77-JJ (66 combos), which means you call 51% of your opening range (66/130)

call 77-JJ, AQ+ and AJs

5. You're folding only 35% of your opening hands.  His 9bb 3bet needs to work as a bluff 67% of the time.  Congrats!  He's not auto profiting with every 3bet bluff.

6. Vs a 5% 3bet range, your calling range has about 41% equity (not bad). Your 4bet range has 70% equity (great!). Your entire continuance range (4betting and calling) has 47% equity (good).


70% equity

41% equity

47% equity

7. Now that you know your equities, you can make slight adjustments to them. If you want higher equity for your calling range, remove the weaker hands. If you'd like to 4bet a little more, move a calling hand or a folding hand to your 4bet range for value or as a bluff.

Get to work

You’ll need to do these 7 steps for each position and against different 3bet ranges. You can see how it’s a bit time consuming, but worth the effort. Once you do this, you can be safe in the knowledge that you created your 3bet continuance ranges with mathematically sound principles.

Here's the embedded video I promised you:

Question #2 from Tom Shock (12:00):

What poker podcasts do you listen to? Other than yours, of course.

I actually do listen to my own podcast because I want to improve my podcasting skills. I treat it kind of like poker game tape. While I listen to my podcast, I listen for mistakes or errors or little ticks in my speech.

Besides that, I listen to OneOuter, Thinking Poker, Red Chip Poker, Mindset Advantage and The Mental Game of Poker. I occasionally listen to Postflop Poker and Carrot Poker as well.

And besides those, I listen to every single ACS, Adam and Dr. Drew, Comedy Bang Bang, The Nerdist, Tim Ferris, Joe Rogan, Reasonable Doubt, HDTGM, the James Altucher Show and a few others.

Question #3 from Paul (14:30):

Hey Sky,
I've played poker going back to pre-Black Friday. I live in Jersey so mostly play online.
I wanna get better but haven't put enough time in. Can't afford Splitsuit's hand reading course right now. I'm a break-even player at best, and need to think about ranges more!!
Any suggestions on how I can start improving my hand reading skills? Does Flopzilla give a tutorial on figuring out Ranges?
Thanks for your time and effort. Keep up the great work!! Your enthusiasm is infectious!

Here's the video I discuss in the podcast:

As you practice your hand reading, follow the H.A.N.D. Reading steps I discuss in episode 66.  They are History, Assign, Narrow then Destroy!

The more you practice, the better you'll get.

I recommend running through two hand reading exercises every day from a prior hand that hit showdown and had some decent action through the streets.  Make sure you choose older hands b/c you don't want to remember what was shown down.  In PT4 or HEM2, just run a filter for showdown hands in 25+bb pots.

The more you do this off the tables, the more you'll naturally think in hand reading terms and be in a hand reading mindset while you're on the tables.  This will lead to more thoughtful and considerate play, as well as more thinking through your actions and what your opponent's actions mean, and you'll make better choices for it.

Question #4 from Gus (17:15):

I've been reading Ed Miller's “The Course,” after I heard about it on your podcast. What do you recommend doing to practice each Skill level? Are there any online poker sites you highly recommend to do this on? Or are there other methods your recommend?
Thanks, Gus

I think you can practice the skills at any online site.  The opp's are different, but in general they all play the same at equal buy-in levels.

I recommend focusing on one skill at a time for a few sessions in a row. What you should do is summarize each skill on one sheet of paper. Before you begin your session, read over it and keep it in front of you. Your goal is to work on that one skill with each hand dealt.

Example: Skill #2: Don't Pay People Off

Your goal in each session while working on this skill is to have a good reason every time you call someone’s bet or raise. Before you click the “call” button, list out the hands that he's betting that you beat. If you can't think of any hands that you beat (including bluffs), you shouldn't be calling.

Also with this skill, figure out the break-even math on every call before you make it. For example, the opponent's betting $1 into a $2 pot. Your call needs to be correct 25% of the time ($1 call to win total pot of $4). Do you have the best hand here 25% of the time?

Also, pay attention to the hands that you're not involved in. Try to find instances where you know a player shouldn’t be calling because it’s obvious he’s beat due to the actions or expected ranges of the players involved. Noticing when others are paying off will help you catch yourself before you pay off opponents.

By focusing your entire session (and a few sessions in a row) to this one skill, you'll learn it much better than had you just read the chapter, took some notes, then forgot it all.

Up Next…

In podcast 99, I'll discuss class 3 of MED #2: Blind Stealing. I’ve got some good stuff to discuss, so you won’t wanna miss it.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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