Sometimes you have a great hand, and you want to increase the size of the pot. Sometimes you don’t have a great hand, but you want to keep your opponent on his or her toes.
Either way, 3-betting might be a good idea. It is an important concept to learn because you want your arsenal of poker tricks to be as diverse as possible.
What is 3-betting?
Three-betting is a preflop concept in which a player re-raises the initial raiser. The concept’s name originated from fixed limit games. The initial raiser makes it two bets. The re-raiser makes it three bets. If yet another raise is made, it is called a four-bet.
In no-limit games, however, the bets do not have to be the same size.
3-betting with powerful hands
The most obvious time to 3-bet is when you have a monster starting hand.
If you are holding pocket aces, you can be sure that no matter what hand your opponent raised with, you have a better hand. Because you have a significant edge on your opponent, you want to increase the size of the pot so you win more money.
Pocket kings, pocket queens, and pocket jacks are obvious hands to 3-bet with, too. There is no rule for which hands you can 3-bet with, so the further away your hand gets from pocket aces, you should base your decision on your comfort level when it comes to re-raising the pot.
Balancing your range
Once you get comfortable 3-betting with big hands, it’s important to widen your range.
If an opponent recognizes that you only 3-bet with a big hand, they are more likely to fold when you do it because they know it is going to be more difficult to beat your hand.
On the other hand, if you start 3-betting with lesser hands and your opponents see that, then they might be more likely to call your 3-bet because they know they might not have to beat pocket aces or pocket kings.
Poker is a game of information. A player rarely has all the information they need to make the best decisions. If you 3-bet with a wider range of hands your opponent might not be able to make an accurate read.
When the opponent makes mistakes, you make money.
3-betting to apply pressure
Another good time to 3-bet is when you perceive the initial raiser to be weak. In these cases, it doesn’t matter what your cards are because if you’re right that your opponent is weak, they will most likely fold even after raising.
Their starting hand of king-jack might look good enough to raise, but will it look good enough to call a re-raise? That’s up to you to decide based on your history with that player. It also helps if you will have position on the opponent after the flop because sometimes acting first against someone who has shown great strength is intimidating.
Again, the more tough decisions you force your opponent to make, the more errors they are going to commit.
In summary, 3-betting with a monster hand is easy and a profitable play in the long run. Three-betting without a monster hand can also be profitable as long as you’re smart about when you do it, and you’re conscious of why you’re doing it.