Nobody likes facing 3bets. However, in today's aggressive games, you're going to face a lot of them.
I share the most important HUD statistics I use to help me make reads on my opponent when I'm facing 3bets. These statistics tell me how often they 3bet from each position, and very importantly, the position they 3bet against.
This is going to help you find and exploit your opponent's bluff 3bets.
Listen to episode #403 as you follow along below:
Prepare for Facing 3bets
We face multiple 3bets in every session we play. When you know something is going to happen, you had best prepare for it.
Novice players don’t prepare for 3bets. They take it one hand at a time and spend too much mental energy on the felt trying to decide on a course of action. “Do I call, 4bet, or fold?!”
Exceptional players on the other hand, open the pot with an idea of how they’ll respond to the 3bet. They’ve done the work off the felt to have a good idea of the most +EV route to take based on their hand, position and the player 3betting them.
Preparing off the felt allows you to bring your stress-free logic and analysis to your on the felt pressure-filled play. You’ve got money on the line and not much time to make your decisions, so all the off the felt work you do frees up mental space for important “in the thick of it” adjustments to make.
A big part of preparing off the felt is devising ranges to use.
No matter how good a set of ranges is, it can’t prepare you for everything. Ranges are meant to be a starting place for playing against “unknowns” and TAG players.
You’ll mostly be facing 3bets (bluffs) from TAGs, LAGs and Maniacs. Fish, Whales and Nits are mostly likely value 3betting only. Maybe it’s a min 3bet, a 3x 3bet, a 5x 3bet or even an overshove 100bb 3bet.
Studying hands and running situations through Flopzilla Pro off-the-felt will make you a more adaptable player in these larger 3bet pots.
“3bet vs Position” Statistics
How do we look for ways to adapt our ranges to the 3betting opponent? We start by using player type.
We’ll continue less often vs a Nit’s 3bet than vs a Maniac’s 3bet. That’s why we always want to have VPIP and PFR along with Preflop 3bet in our HUD. These stats quickly help us determine the player we’re up against.
But, there’s another set of stats I use in my 3bet popup: “3bet vs Position” stats.
These allow us to see the “bluffiness” of our opponent’s 3bet:
These stats are from 5,400 hands with a TAG winning reg.
- 3bet vs CO is quite high from the blinds. This player likes to 3bet steal vs CO opens. I can fight back with more calls and 4bets when I open raise in the CO.
- This player’s 3bet vs BTN is high when in the SB. So, this player steals more from the SB, but calls in the BB, possibly because of the 1bb discount. I can use this to occasionally 4bet bluff and call with position from the BTN when they 3bet the SB. And when they 3bet from the BB, I can easily ditch my dominated hands or call with my speculative hands (like sc’s and medium pp’s) to potentially crush their value-heavy range.
- The two 7.5 (6/80; vs EP in the CO) and 7.4 (2/27; vs MP in MP) 3bet percentages seem to be outliers and can be caused by getting dealt some great hands in a small sample. But, I can keep an eye out for this and research showdown hands to see if these are bluffing spots for this player.
Build This Popup for Yourself
The popup above was custom built by me, and it's a part of my Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4.
However, you can easily build this for yourself. You can find each statistic in PT4 as “3Bet vs position 2bet” for each position:
Just be sure to set each statistic to the relevant position. So, if you want to add a stat for 3bet in SB vs BTN 2bet, use the “3bet vs BTN 2bet” statistic and change the position from “Any” to “Small Blind (SB)”.
This video will help you create your own popup in PT4:
Facing 3bets – Calling Adjustments
When you call the 3bet, you’re doing more than just calling: You’re voluntarily committing more chips to the pot in an effort to see the flop.
There are many reasons you may choose to call instead of 4betting or folding.
You’ve got a strong hand and you believe the opponent will fold to a 4bet, and you don’t want them out of the pot yet. Maybe their 3bet vs your position stat is a bit high, and they also have a high fold to 4bet stat.
Example: AA and you want to earn more than their 3bet chips.
Your opponent has post-flop weaknesses that you can take advantage of later, but you think they won’t fold to a 4bet. Maybe their 3bet vs your position is small so they’re going for value. But, you have position on them and they’re honest post-flop.
Example: opponent is fit-or-fold on the flop or turn.
You’ve got a positional advantage and a skill advantage, and are happy to go post-flop in this 3bet pot with this hand. This is a great idea when their 3bet vs your position is high and you have a hand that can extract value vs their wide 3bet range.
Example: the opponent is a TAG, so it might be easy to push them off when they check to you. Also, if they bet and you flop a monster, you’ll be able to extract max value from their betting range.
The price you’re being offered is too good to pass up with your hand.
Example: You opened to 3bb’s, and they min-3bet you to 5bb’s. It costs you 2bb’s to win a total pot of 11.5bb’s, so you only need 17% equity, so you'll proceed with most of your range.
Your opponent has been overly aggressive and you think your hand is good enough to fight back with a call instead of folding. You see their 3bet vs your position is so high that you can call wide and expect to get value from their tendency to bluff post-flop.
Example: 77 or ATs in the CO vs a LAG SB with a 3bet of 13% in that position.
Calling 3bet Tips:
It’s critical to keep your calling hands toward the top of their 3betting range. If they 3bet with every Ace, then calling AQ and AJ is good, but calling with A8 and A7 is bad. Same holds true for Kings, sc’s or pp’s. If they 3bet every pp, then call with JJ and TT.
Don’t let your calling range get too wide. If you’re willing to call with a hand as low as 44, AT, KTs and T9s, then logically you’d also call with better hands (you wouldn’t call 44 but fold 55 for example).
Sure, your opponent might have a high 3bet % vs your position, but don’t let that convince you to call with some crazy 120 combo range. This is a larger 3bet pot after all, so you must be sure you’re committing chips in a favorable way.
You make most of your money off of calling stations that call far too wide. Don’t turn yourself into a station by way too often.
Also, when calling you want to have at least two of the Three Advantages: Card, Positional and/or Skill. If you’ve got only one or none, save your chips and move on to the next hand.
Don’t willingly make poker difficult.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Add the “3bet vs Position” stats I discussed to your own 3bet popup. Practice using these stats in your next 5 play sessions. Gauge how likely the 3bets you face are for value or bluffs, and respond accordingly.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
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