The Art of the 3-Bet

December 9, 2009 |

The art of the 3-bet is tough to master, and believe me when I say I am far from being the ‘master’ of the 3-bet. I still believe that I can offer some tips, and advice that will help you pull off this bet in key situations of a tournament. First, for all of you who are unaware of what a 3-bet is let me give you my definition;

3-Bet: A 3-Bet is the first re-raise of the hand. The big blind is considered bet 1, the first raiser is considered bet 2, and if a player were to ‘re-raise’ the action, that would be considered a 3-bet.

Now that we mentioned the definition of the 3-bet, let’s discuss ways that can be effective when trying to perform this bet on opponents. Just like some of the articles I have written before I want to stress the importance of knowing, and studying your opponents at the table. Making an effective 3-bet depends on your chip stack, the situation at hand, and most importantly the player you are performing the bet on. It’s easy to re-raise a player when you have AA, KK, or QQ, and I’m sure we are all capable to making that play. So let’s not waste time discussing the ‘no-brainer’.

First, let’s talk about the idea of 3-betting opponents. Unless you have the hands I mentioned earlier (AA, KK, QQ, or maybe AK), you don’t want to get out of control when the blinds are say 15/30 or 20/40. In my eyes the 3-bet is designed to make the initial raiser fold his hand so you can take down the pot pre-flop (unless of course you’re holding a monster). That being said there is no need to try a 3-bet when you are holding mediocre hand, and the initial bet is only worth 120 chips. The 3-bet is designed for the later stages of a tournament when the pots are more valuable to your chip stack. You want to take advantage of the player who makes the raise, and force him to make the decision. Let’s talk about 3-betting the opposition when you are positioned in the blinds.

The blinds can be a tricky area when it comes to 3-betting. Is the raiser raising because he/she has a hand? Or is he/she raising because they are trying to steal the blinds? This is the reason behind studying your table, it’ll make your decisions that much easier when trying to pull this bet off. If a player is opening frequently then it’s likely they have a wide range hands; thus making it more appropriate for a 3-bet. If a tight player decides to raise the action you have to be cautious when making a 3-bet with a mediocre hand. Odds are if they are a tight player they will most likely be holding a hand that is worth making the call. Also when making a 3-bet be sure you have the appropriate stack size.

Say the blinds are 500/1000, and you have 13,000 in chips (13 big blinds) with a 3,000 chip raise in front of you. This is the spot in which you want to have a strong hand when making your move. Odds are you are going to get called because of pot odds, so you don’t want to be shoving junk in hopes that the raiser folds. Another factor you should pay attention to is the position of the initial raiser. If the initial raiser is raising from early position then you want to be cautious. Simply because if they are raising from early position, this increases their chance of having a quality hand. If a player is raising from late position (button, cut-off) then it’s more obvious that they could be holding a weaker hand.

Remember to study your opponents at the table. Look at the position of the raiser, know if he is being aggressive, or if he is playing a tight game. Check the blinds, your chip stack, and your opponents chip stack. All of these factors will come into play when you are trying to perform the 3-bet.

Craig Fleck

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