Before anything, what you have to understand about sizing a 3-bet is that you have to do it to prevent your opponent from having good pot odds and prevent him from having good implied odds.
First of all, you need to give your opponent more than 30% pot odds because otherwise there’s absolutely no point in 3-betting, you’re just bloating the pot, he can call with mostly any hand that he opened.
Second, let’s talk a little bit about pocket pairs and suited connectors. If you 3-bet to a low enough size, all pocket pairs can call because of implied odds.
A pocket pair will hit a set 1/8 times on the flop and this means that 7 out of 8 times your opponent will lose his investment that he made preflop.
Sizing a 3-bet is not about the multiplicity of your opponent’s raise size, like 3x his raise. It’s about how many blinds you make it over his raise and he has to call and about flop pot size.
If an opponent would raise to 3bb and then we 3-bet to 7bb, then he has to put down 4bb into a total pot of 15.5bb also taking into consideration the BB and SB.
First of all, the pot odds are great for him: 4/15.5=26%
Second, if he calls only 4bb preflop he has to make 7×4=28bb postflop to cover for the losses whenever he has a pocket pair and doesn’t hit a set.
The pot on the flop is already 15.5bb so to get another 12.5bb from your opponent to make it at least 28bb(profit), it’s going to be extremely easy.
This means that generally you’re supposed to make him call something that can’t serve his implied odds very easily and this number is at least six big blinds. Also, I like to add one more blind when I’m out of position, to make my opponent fold more often so that I’m not forced to play a lot of 3-bet pots out of position post-flop. He has a great advantage when he’s in position so he’s going to call more. This means we have to make him call less and up the price of admission.
You can’t make the 3-bet bigger than this, because then your opponent can and will be able to fold a very large part of his preflop opening range and profit a lot easier from your raises.
Also, you always have to consider what your breakeven fold frequency is:
You’re usually investing 9bb to win a total of 13.5, so if your opponent is folding more than 9/13.5=66% then you’re going to have a good time because you’ve just made auto-profit.
This means that you can 3-bet profitably your opponent with any two cards but it doesn’t mean that you have to be 3-betting him every time! Pay attention to the situations and try to figure out after 3-bet bluffing your opponents when they will be reacting a lot more than normal!
Also, pay attention to the fold to 3-bet stat but only on a decent amount of hands which would be around at least 1000 hands. After you have this sample size on opponents you can start pushing them around, but always figure out when to stop bluffing and only apply value, and also when to 5-bet shove wider(usually the same cases). Also, on opponents that have an absurd fold to 3-bet you don’t need that many hands, for example if you have an opponent that folded nine out of ten times vs 3-bets, then you can safely assume that he is in the nitty category of players when facing 3-bets and start bluffing him accordingly.
My 3-bet sizings vs regs are as follows:
Vs a 3bb open : 9bb in position / 10bb out of position
Vs a 2.5bb open: 8bb in position / 9bb out of position
Vs a 2bb open: 8bb in position / 8bb out of position
These are my sizes vs regs and they have been working fairly well. Now, let’s get a bit into exploitation.
You should know that there are two types of loose passive players. There are the ones that have a bit of interest in playing poker well and trying to apply their – flawed – strategy in the game and try and hit flops and then turn into calling stations, and then there are the ones who are truly terrible and will do anything to try to break another player.
This is relative to greed and you can capitalize on it by 3-betting a lot higher than intended.
Generally I start off by 3-betting against loose passives to about 12-13 blinds and go up from here if I get called. The big problem with these guys is that you have to pay attention to their raising range because most of them will look like this: 40/5/1. This means that a player like this will raise generally 99+/AQ+. There’s a flaw in their thought process even here where they play 5% of hands. The main idea is that these hands that they raise and make them so easily readable are hands that they ‘like’. This means that they will be reluctant to throw them away preflop because they consider them ‘strong hands’. Generally, they can distinguish 99 from KK, but in most cases they will not when facing a 3-bet. This means that you’ll be happily 3-betting the top 50% of their opening range vs them and make a hefty profit while doing so. The same strategy applies vs maniacs, but I’d definitely be shoving wider and calling wider all ins vs them because they tend to be more aggressive and generally wider preflop.
Now, vs the whales, the really bad players who rarely fold preflop and especially when they have a hand they ‘like’, I’m going to be applying the 4-move vs them.
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