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Q&A: 3betting, Cbetting and Set Mining #209


Sky Matsuhashi

on November 1, 2018

I answer 3 questions about studying and playing 3bet pots, improved cbetting through better understanding of range/board interaction and set mining.

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


Q1: 3betting and Hand Reading Practice (3:05)

From: Ruben

Q: I think my that my most notable leak revolves around 3bet pots, as the raiser or as the caller, both IP and OOP. Whenever I don´t hit the flop, I feel very confused whether or not to bet. If betting, how much and what is the best line? If I check, I feel very lost and don´t know how to continue in the pot.


This isn't necessarily a leak. It sounds more to me that you just lack some 3bet strategies in your skill set. Because your leak revolves around everything 3betting: calling, raising, in position, out of position and what to do on the flop.

Before I get to 3betting and 3bet pots, I’ll tell you how you can organize further 3bet studies.

Organized 3bet Studies

First, study making 3bets preflop. Create or find ranges to use for both value and bluff 3bets. Also work out the sizing you should use and who to 3bet against.

Second, you’ll study open raising then calling 3bets. You’ll devise ranges that have decent equity versus your opponent’s 3bet, and you’ll do tons of Flopzilla work seeing how well different 3bet ranges hit the flop.

Third, you’ll study post-flop in 2bet pots as the preflop raiser. Every post-flop consideration in 2bet pots also applies to 3bet pots. Because 2bet pots happen so much more frequently than 3bets, this is a better place to start to improve your post-flop understanding.

Fourth, you’ll study post-flop play as the preflop caller. Think about the different plays you can make both in position and out of position, do some math related work on SPR and implied odds, and devise lines that you can take for bluffs and for value.

Fifth, you’ll study post-flop in 3bet pots. You’ll take everything that you learned with the 2bet pot strategies and consider how they might change or be more impactful in 3bet pots. For example, SPR is much lower in 3bet pots. So, the fold equity that your bluffs have in 2bet pots is a bit higher than the fold equity in 3bet pots because your opponents are going to be so much more committed to them.

3betting Strategies

The most important thing regarding improving your 3bet game is: you must know of what you want to accomplish with it (whether making or defending), AND see signs that you will accomplish it.

Example: You want to 3bet bluff pre-flop
  • Your opponent should have a wide opening range
  • Their Fold to 3bet is high (like 65%+)
  • They are in a steal position to make it more likely they're stealing
  • Being IP makes it more likely you'll get a fold b/c opponents don't want to go post-flop OOP
  • Post-flop weaknesses are great to notice so in case you get called there are more ways to win it post-flop
Example: You want to value 3bet with a strong hand (AA and KK are no-brainers, but TT+ and AQ+ could be potential value hands)
  • You want them to have a wide continuation range. Maybe you've seen them call 3bets with 77+ and ATs+
  • You want to be IP to make it easier to control the pot post-flop so you can bet to build the pot or check-behind to keep it small.
  • Post-flop weaknesses are always great to notice so you can either go for more value easier or spot when they out-flop you and you can ditch the hand.

Practice 3betting

You must practice 3betting and calling 3bets.  Before every button click, have a reason for your 3bet and find signs that you'll get what you want from making it. And think about how you're going to make money defending against them as well. Don't just defend vs 3bets b/c your cards are pretty or you just feel like he's bluffing.

Make sure to listen to my podcasts on the 3bet: episodes 104, 105, 107 and 108.

Study 3betting

You must take the time to do 3bet pot hand reading practice sessions. When it comes to hand reading it's all about practice, practice, practice. The more you do it off the felt while reviewing 3bet hands, the more the skills and insights will come to you during your play.

Check out my series of hand reading episodes on YouTube

As you review your hands and practice hand reading, filter for showdown hands where you faced or made a 3bet. Make sure they're older hands so you won't remember what the villain had.

Start the hand reading process pre-flop by assigning a range to the Villain.  Narrow their range through the streets as actions are made.

The hand reading drills will really help with your other issue of not knowing what to do when you miss the flop (which is most of the time).

It takes practice, and I recommend practicing with one or two a day at the beginning of your study sessions.

Q2: Improving Cbet Skills (12:10)

From: Max

Q: I've spent a lot of time on your book, Preflop Online Poker, but I feel that a deeper understand of cbetting post-flop will boost my skills.


I released four episodes all about cbetting back in the MED series of podcasts: 133, 134, 135 and 137. Listen to the first episode #133 here.
Before you make the cbet, it's critical that you know why. Are you going for value or bluffing? Use a tick sheet as you play and make a tick mark under “Value” or “Bluff” before every cbet. This will get you to more deeply think about your reason for cbetting.

When cbetting, you always want to consider your opponent and their range before you click the button. If they can fold better hands to your bluff, then it's likely a +EV bluff. If they can give you value with worse hands from their range, then it's likely a +EV value bet.

But, if they're folding all their worse hands, then it's a failed value bet. And, if they're never folding in this spot for whatever reason, then it's a failed bluff. Know why you're betting and have a reasonable assumption they'll do what you want them to do.

Board Texture Spreadsheet

Use this spreadsheet and Flopzilla to give yourself some very important range and flop analysis practice. You can use this spreadsheet for 2bet ranges, 2bet calling ranges, 3bet ranges and calling ranges to see how each of them interact with various flops. Doing this type of work off the felt is going to help ingrain range and board texture analysis into your brain. You will begin to develop an intuitive grasp of this concept and you’ll be able to apply it in game to make +EV decisions.

Start your audiobook learning by picking up ‘Preflop Online Poker' through Click the pic above to begin your free 30-day trial or to purchase the audiobook version if you're already a member.

Q3: Set Mining in 3bet Pots (17:05)

From: Daniel

Q: Dealing with uncommon preflop situations (outside the scope of your book). Ex. I raise with 99, get re-raised and then there is a cold call. Against just a re-raise this is a clear fold… But here? Flopping a set could have immense implied odds…


This is a great question to answer right on the heels of the MED Monday episode where I covered five tips for better set mining. That was MED Monday #37.

Preflop Online Poker doesn't address every type of scenario you can face. But, the information in the book can be applied to any preflop scenario.

In the scenario presented, you opened with 99 in order to take down the pot with a solid hand. If you get called, you can do post-flop battle with this hand and possibly bluff or value cbet. Now, your opponent's actions have curtailed this original plan and they've played back at you. You can simply choose to fold this hand if it's not in your 3bet calling range and move on to the next hand. If you're thinking about calling and set-mining, then all the info in the book about set-mining, implied odds, calling preflop, 4bet bluffing and considering your position and the opponents all come into play.

5 things to consider when set mining versus 3bets

Set mining and implied odds: I recommend set-mining with 20x stacks behind. The reason for such high implied odds is so that you earn plenty of money in the times you hit your set and stack your opponent. This helps to outweigh all the times that you miss your set and lose either a big or small pot. If calling the 3bet means putting an additional 6bb's in the pot, there should be 120bb's in the stacks behind for good implied odds.

Calling preflop: your call caps your range and you're telling your opponent, “I don't have AA, KK, QQ right now, but my hand is worthy of calling.” Your opponents can rightly put lots of post-flop pressure on you to get you to fold all your underpairs and whiffed hands. Before you click call in this scenario, ask yourself, “In this really large 3bet pot with 3 players, is this a good opportunity to tell my opponents I don't have a strong hand?”

4bet bluffing: Is this a good opportunity to 4bet bluff? Will a 4bet to 2.2x get both opponents to fold? Is 99 good to 4bet bluff with (no A or K blockers)? Is it better to just fold and lose the 3bb open raise?

Position: Maybe you opened in the EP and the CO 3bet and the BTN called. Calling here will put you out of position versus 2 other players, a non-money-making situation due to your positional disadvantage and your range disadvantage. This is 100% anti-bread and butter and is a money-losing situation to put yourself in.

The opponents: know what type of opponents you're up against and if they'll make post-flop play difficult, then that should be a consideration as well. It is a 3bet pot and if both of your opponents hate folding or always try to win these bigger pots, then earning money in this spot when you don’t hit your set will be very difficult (which happens 89% of the time).

Challenge (21:30)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:   Download the Board Texture Spreadsheet, whip out Flopzilla and get to studying. Work on 2bet or 3bet ranges and figure out how frequently different ranges hit flops. Listen to episode #134 to learn how to use the spreadsheet.

Now it’s your turn to pull the trigger and do something positive for your poker game.


Sky Matsuhashi

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