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Value 3bets | MED #3 Class 2 | Poker Podcast #105


Sky Matsuhashi

on November 11, 2016

I discuss value 3bets and the things you need to know to get maximum value out of your strongest hands.

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


Mastery vs Overload (2:10)

There's so much poker strategy content out there.  Podcasts, books, videos, articles and coaching.  It’s really easy to get distracted by the “shiny new thing” that comes across your Twitter or FB feed or where ever you get your poker strategy fix.  The way I get around this is to pick one thing to study for a week at a time.  I study it for 1 hour per day, and I ignore everything else that comes my way.

The concept of Mastery vs Overload is the reason why each MED is broken up into parts: if I did it all at once you’d be overwhelmed.  A little bit each week gives you something to learn and to study more in detail on your own during the week between podcasts.  If I did all 10 MED’s, one episode each over 10 weeks, you wouldn’t put much of it into use in your own games.  By breaking each up into bite-sized chunks, I give you enough to think about, to study further and to implement into your own games.

Poker is about making gradual improvements.  Working on one skill set at a time, while building upon previously studied topics, is the best way to improve your game.

People overestimate what they can do in a day, but underestimate what they can do in a year.  Imagine what your game would be like a year from now, if you spent one week each on 52 different skills.  Imagine that, 52 different skills building upon each other and making you one incredible poker player.

Your goal with poker learning should be to master one thing at a time before moving on to the next.

Value 3bets (4:45)

There’s one thing I want you to take away from this podcast: value 3bets want action.

If you’re value 3betting with JJ, it’s because your opponent can continue with worse.  TT -22 and lots of non-paired hands are in their range.  If you’re value 3betting with AQ, it’s because your opponent can continue with so many worse Aces.  This gives you great post-flop card advantage.

Your 3bet here is building the pot with a hand that beats their continuation range.

There are 5 major considerations when making value 3bets:

1. The Opponent (5:55)

The type of player that you’re 3betting makes a huge difference in whether or not you’ll get the value you’re looking for.

And that’s the key word: VALUE.  When you’ve got a value hand (think QQ+ and AK usually), you want an opponent that can continue with worse.

If the opponent folds to your value 3bets, then you’ve earned money pre-flop.  If they call we can expect to win more money from post-flop action with a superior hand.

LIVE players need to use their judgement and past experiences with the player.  As an online player, you use these as well as the stats in your HUD.

The most value will come from loose and passive players.  The more loose and passive they are, the more value you can get out of them.  You can also extract lots of value from LAG’s.  These players will continue with a wide range hoping you’ll fold to a 4bet bluff.  They might even call in hopes of taking it away from you post-flop with aggression.

It's tough extracting value from TAG’s and NIT’s.  TAG’s fold to 3bets quite frequently and only continue with a very small range whether they’re calling or 4betting.  NIT’s continue with even smaller ranges, and will fold pretty quickly to 3bets unless they’ve got a top 3% hand (JJ+ and AK).

2. Their Continuation Range (7:45)

If we aren’t ahead of their continuation range, even though it may be a “value hand”, then our value 3bets are basically bluffs.  If we’re 3betting JJ, and this is ahead of the villain’s opening range, but they only continue with QQ+, then our 3bet will mostly elicit folds.  Against a player like this we can be profitable with 3betting ATC as a bluff, and that’s basically what we’re doing, even with JJ here.

Like I said in the prior podcast #104, all 3bets are either for value 3bets or bluff 3bets.  If the opponent only continues with hands that beat yours, then you’re bluffing.

When you’re facing an open raise, your 3 options are to fold, raise or call.  Weigh your options before you click that raise or call button, and have a good idea of the range your opponent will continue with.  You’ve got to know why you’re making the bet!

3. The Positions (9:45)

Poker is all about position, position, position!

When making value 3bets, having post-flop position means you’ll be able to extract more value and be able to get away from more dangerous spots.

Position is power, it is control, it is being in charge of the hand.

I ran a cash game filter in my PT4 database for 3betting hands with position after the flop, and OOP after the flop.


  • 263 hands returned; $243 profit (.92/hand) and +836 BB/100
  • Biggest losing hand was -140bb’s w/TT – flop top set vs flopped nut flush
  • Biggest winning hand was 106bb’s, but lots of 100bb wins


  • 209 hands returned (this is good, it’s less than the IP 3bets, which means I’m a little more selective when 3betting OOP); $155 profit (.74/hand) and +833 BB/100.
  • The vast majority of these came from the blinds, but some came from 3betting then getting called by a player in the CO or BTN.
  • Biggest winning hand was 123bb’s, with lots of 100bb and just under wins
  • Biggest losing hand was 112bb’s

So, you can see the difference in profitability here when 3betting with and without post-flop position.  3betting IP with a value hand is definitely a bread and butter situation.

4. Bet Sizing (12:45)

In general bigger bets get folds, smaller bets get calls.  I recommend making most of your 3bets 3x for IP play and 3.5-4x for OOP play, whether it’s for value or as a bluff/semi-bluff.

Keeping your sizing consistent will make you harder to read.

Reasons to INCREASE the sizing of your value 3bets:

  • The opener will call bigger bets with worse hands. Some players will call any 3bet with the same weak range, so they’ll call 3x or 4x or 5x 3bets.  Whatever sizing you think they’ll call with worse hands, go for that sizing.  Remember, it’s a value 3bet, so try to get as much value as you can.
  • There are still players yet to act other than the 2bettor (limpers and blinds) so you want to make it enough to get them out of the hand and isolate the raiser.
  • You’re raising OOP and you want to charge your opp’s to call you IP; you want them to pay for this incredible advantage.

Reasons to DECREASE the sizing of your value 3bets:

  • You think the raiser won’t call a standard 3x 3bet with worse hands, so size it smaller to entice him to call or 4bet over you
  • You’ve got an agro donk yet to act, and you think a smaller 3bet will convince him to 4bet bluff over you, allowing you to call or 5bet to extract max value from this agro donk.

Before you choose your bet sizing, you’ve got to consider what odds it offers your opponent and the break-even range they can continue with.

For example, a standard 3bet of 3x to 9bb’s means the opener has to call 6bb’s to win a total pot of 19.5bb’s (all bets and blinds included).  This means their hand only needs 30.8% equity against your 3bet range.  If we look at a small 3bet range of 4.7% (TT+ and AQ+); there’s lots of hands that have at least 30.8% equity: 22+, AJs+, A4s-A5s, AQo+, KTs, T9s+, J9s+.  Just run this in Flopzilla and see for yourself:


If you size it bigger, their hand needs more equity, and sizing your 3bet smaller means they need less.  Consider this before you make your 3bet.

5. Having a Post-flop Plan (16:25)

All great poker players have a plan for further action or future streets before they act.  Look before you leap is an important concept in poker.

Having a post-flop plan before you 3bet pre-flop means you’re thinking ahead.  Consider the possible flops that can come, your opp’s range and their post-flop tendencies.  Of course, you also need to know how you’ll respond to a pre-flop 4bet.  If you 3bet then puke in your mouth when you face a 4bet, then you didn’t plan for it to happen and shouldn’t have made the 3bet in the first place.


Sometimes you hit the flop super hard with a set of J’s or TPTK with your AK.  It’s time to extract some additional value when this happens.  You want to think about how your opponent plays post-flop, how aggressive or passive or nitty they may be.  History and your HUD stats will tell you how wide they call cbets, how often they c/r or raise cbets, and how often they donk bet into you.  Think about the player’s tendencies and devise a strategy that will earn you more of their chips.

Sometimes you’ll be up against an opponent that likes to bluff post-flop.  Maybe give this opponent a chance to show you he’s got the goods.

On scary boards, like a monotone or 3 to the straight board with an overpair, if you try to force the action to gii by the river, then you may not be able to fold when indications are that you’re beat.  If you bet ½ your stack on the turn in order to build the pot and he raises you, then you’re prolly beat with even a TPTK hand, and you may not be able to find the fold button with so much of your stack in the pot already.  Bet smaller so he can at least call and give you value, or he might raise and you can get away from it then.  If you’re over-committed to the pot, you’ll have a harder time laying down when you’re beat.

Flopped Over-cards

Flopped over-cards can ruin the equity of your beautiful value 3bets.  When you have:

  • KK: 20% of the time an Ace hits the flop
  • QQ: 34% of the time an Ace or King will hit
  • JJ: 42% of the time an Ace, King or Queen will hit

When you have one of these pairs and an overcard comes, you’ll have to think about how many of that card your opponent has in their range.

Let’s look at the number of Aces, Kings and Queens a small 3bet calling range of 5% has (JJ-88,AQo-AJo,KQo,AQs-AJs,KQs; 72 combos)

  • 32 Aces (AQ and AJ); 44% of range
  • 16 Kings (KQ); 22% of range
  • 32 Queens (AQ and KQ); 44% of range
  • Altogether, this range has 48 Aces/Kings/Queens in the range, making for 67% of the range. This means that if an A/K/Q hits the flop, there’s a 67% chance your opponent has one.  If you cbet the flopped over-card, you’re getting called or raised 67% of the time.

value 3bets

Over-card Kings can be a worry, but Aces and Queens make up a big part of the range.  So, cbetting on A and Q high boards can be troublesome.  That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do it.  Just be prepared for the villain to continue beyond your cbet if they’re calling your value 3bets with such a narrow and broadway filled range.

Should I ever call with a value 3bet worthy hand? (23:00)

There are 3 things you can do when facing an open raise: fold, call or 3bet.

Your job is to determine which is the most +EV and go with it.

A hand like AA is always worth 3betting for value.  But, there are times when you might want to call with a value hand instead of 3betting, and here are 5 possible reasons:

  1. To disguise your hand strength. Calling an open raise will often convince players you don’t have QQ or better, and you can sneak attack their stack when your hand is under-repped like that.
  2. Get to the flop with your entire range. If you never call 2bets with QQ+, then you’ve capped your range at JJ when you do call.  This makes it easier for opp’s to play against your 2bet calls.
  3. To keep your opponent's entire opening range on the flop. This is great if you’re 3betting a player who opens 20%, but will only continue with 3%.  When you call with K, he’ll have every Ace in his range.  On a flopped Ace, you can extract lots of value from their weak Ace heavy range.
  4. Not worried about isolating.  Maybe you’re the last to act or those yet to act are nitty and will likely fold to the open raise sizing.
  5. There's a constant 3bet squeeze yet to act.  You notice that it's a great opportunity for the agro LAG in the blinds to make a squeeze bluff.  So you can call now, then pounce on his 3bet squeeze with a lovely value 4bet.

STUDY: PokerTracker 4 Filtering for 3bet Hands (25:30)

PokerTracker 4 Database:

There are so many ways to look at your 3bet hands in PT4, and here are a few of the filters you can use:

  • In Pre-flop Actions and Opportunities, turn on the Any 3bet filter.  Which positions are you profitable in, and which are you losing money in?
  • You can also couple this with specific hands or a range of hands to see how well you performed. Filter for 3bets with the cut-off value hands like TT, JJ, AQ and AK.  See how profitable you are with all of those.
  • Also, look at the always valuable hands of QQ, KK and AA. How well do you perform with these?  What were your biggest losing hands, and could you have gotten away from them at some point, whether pre or post-flop?
  • Filter for 3bet hands both IP on the flop and OOP on the flop. You can find the position choices under Hand Details and Player Position.  How are you doing in 3bet pots both IP and OOP?

3bet-filter cut-off-value-3bets position-filter

Outside sources:

Spend 15 minutes in Google and YouTube searching for some great “value 3bets” or “3betting for value” content.  There’s tons of it out there, so copy and paste each URL that looks promising into your study document and hit each of them this week.  Take note of what you learn, and find ways to apply it at the tables this week.

Challenge (27:35)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Over the next week, decide if the 3bet you’re about to make is for value or a bluff before you make it.  Use a tick sheet as you play and record the number of value 3bets and the number of bluff 3bets you make.  Your awareness of how often you’re going for value vs how often you’re bluffing will inform your 3bet choices.  The more aware you are, the better decisions you’ll make.

When going for value, you should be able to list off the weaker hands that you think your opponent can continue with.  If there aren’t any weaker hands, and they’d only continue with better hands, then you’re just 3bet bluffing.  This isn’t a bad thing, though.  You just need to work on knowing why you’re making the 3bet and what constitutes a value vs a bluff 3bet.

Up Next…

In podcast 106, I'll answer three killer listener questions that are sure to learn you some good poker know-how.

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


Sky Matsuhashi

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