What is a 3 Bet?

If you’re new to poker, you may not be familiar with the term three-bet. A three-bet (or 3-bet) typically refers to the first re-raise before the flop. Here’s how it works: if a player raises before the flop, you will need to call, fold, or re-raise. If you re-raise, this is the definition of the 3-bet, making you the third bettor in the round. A subsequent raise would be considered a 4-bet, and so on. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Let’s dive a little bit deeper.

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The Benefits of 3 Betting

3-betting offers a variety of advantages and should be a key part of your poker arsenal. Making a three-bet puts you in control of the hand, puts pressure on your opponents, and reduces the number of players in the pot. If you are 3-betting with the proper ranges, it will also make your plays much harder to read. As you place your re-raise bets, you can identify those weaker players and take advantage accordingly. Overall, 3-betting is part of any poker pros game and should be integrated into your own if you want to give yourself the best chance of winning.

3-Betting Based on Position

When you’re 3-betting, table position dictates everything if you’re in a round where hand strength is not a driving factor. If you’re the last to bet, you have the opportunity to apply pressure to the out-of-position player, regardless of your hand. A 3x re-raise of the original bet should be enough to get your opponent to reconsider calling but not enough to impact your stack if the move proves unsuccessful.

When out of position, you should re-raise more to wrest away some of the control from a player in late position. The bet size should be at least 4x the original raise amount. The idea is to scare the player off from making the call, as you will often be left guessing post-flop.

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3-Betting Ranges 

It’s crucial to balance your 3-betting ranges to get the most out of a particular situation. If you 3-bet a tight range, such as only face pairs or A-K, your opponents will suss out your hands pretty quickly as you are not betting with a balanced range. 3-betting with a light hand will help switch things up and keep your opponents guessing– you could be sitting with Aces or a modest 3-4, and they could be calling on your good hands and folding on your bad ones. If you find yourself 3-betting light (i.e., when you make a 3-bet with a less than premium hand), you should make sure your re-raises are more balanced. There’s no perfect light hand to 3-bet with, but suited connectors are a great light bet strategy because you have a better chance of hitting a good hand on the flop. These hands include combos like A-9 or K-8.

3 Betting Strategy Adjustments 

You never know what move your opponent will make in poker, so you have to adjust based on their actions. When you 3-bet, you want your opponent to fold, but you still want to have a decent hand to rely on if they don’t. Therefore, you should play with the top of the folding range to three-bet. Your opponent will likely be four-betting with AK and AA-JJ, and they will call with AQ and smaller pocket pairs. Your opponent will need to fold just 66% of the time to make the play profitable, providing you are raising 3x the original bet or more. Of course, this doesn’t even consider the times your opponent calls and you beat him on the flop, or you hit your hand and win. You should consider your opponent’s “fold to three-bet” actions before 3-betting.

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3 Betting Examples and Recommendations

Example of 3-betting with a light hand:

If you’re 3-betting pre-flop and get called, you need to use your initiative to stay ahead. You have the perceived strong hand, but what happens if you miss the flop completely? For example, you 3-bet pre-flop with T♠ 8♣ in late position, and your opponent calls. The flop comes J♦ 3♥ 5♠. Your opponent checks. Now is your chance to raise. If you 3-bet pre-flop, you should not check back, as it shows your hand is not that strong. The standard is to play and continue re-raising, hoping that your opponent folds.

Example of 3-betting in position:

It’s all about the position when you 3-bet! You 3-bet on the button with A♥ Q♥ and get one caller. The flop comes J♥ T♠3♦. If your opponent checks, use your better table position to your advantage and raise. 

Example of 3-betting out of position:

You are out of position at the table, but you have Q♥ Q♣ in the big blind. Action folds to the button, who raises, so you should raise 4x and discourage further bets. The idea is to minimize your time playing out of position, so the bigger re-raise charges your opponent a premium to see your cards.

3-Bet FAQs

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