You can find yourself in a variety of different situations at a poker table, but 3-bet pots are certainly among the most complicated and most important spots in Texas Hold’em. Thanks to the pre-flop action, these pots are bloated, which means they are worth fighting for. At the same time, trying to win in these situations against all odds can end up being very costly.
In this short article, we’ll give you some straightforward tips for navigating 3-bet pots as a caller, i.e. when another player is driving the action. Establishing a good general strategy for these situations is very important for crushing live poker and online games, so hopefully this advice will help you do exactly that.
1. Avoid getting involved with short stacks
Playing in 3-bet pots can seem like an appealing proposition because of all the money going in before the flop but also because of implied odds after the flop. However, the second part of this idea goes out of window when you’re up against a short stack, sitting with around 20 to 30 big blinds.
Hands such as small pocket pairs or suited connectors tend to play very well in 3-bet pots, especially when you have position. The power of these hands comes not just from flopping very strong hands but also flopping draws, which give you enough room to move your opponent off their holdings with bets and raises.
Short stack ninjas killin Us!
Lost another to a shorty AQs<JJ down to 400k at 12/24k. Time to show My Short Stack Ninja Skills
— Zal (@ZalIrani) May 7, 2014
When you’re up against a short stack, though, you simply won’t have enough space to implement these bluffs, so you’ll have to rely on actually hitting a good hand, which won’t happen often enough. When someone 3-bets from a short stack, their range is usually stronger and your implied odds are very low, so you should avoid getting involved with these players.
2. Stay tighter out of position
When considering playing a 3-bet pot as a caller, make sure to adjust your calling range based on whether you’ll be in position or out of position after the flop. If the former is the case, you should keep your hand range much tighter and either 4-bet or fold as your preferred options.
It is true that hands such as small pocket pairs and suited connectors play well in 3-bet pots. However, if you’re not in position, you’ll struggle to realize your equity with these hands even when you hit the flop hard. Since you’ll be the first to act, your opponent will have much more freedom and control in the hand, making it hard for you to win a big pot, unless you both really connect with the board.
Of course, you should still play decent hands and you can make an occasional call with a small pocket pair against some weaker players. In general, however, your calling range in 3-bet pots should be significantly tighter if you’ll have to play the rest of the hand out of the position.
3. Throw some 4-bets into the mix
You don’t always have to be the caller in these spots. It is a good idea to mix in a 4-bet with some bluffs, especially when out of position, and try to win the pot right then and there.
This is a very strong play when you have ICM poker strategy considerations in MTT, and players are forced to fold even quite strong holdings.
When deciding whether to go for a 4-bet, base you decision on your hand (most importantly whether it contains blockers) and also any stats you have on your opponent if you are playing online. You should be more open to the idea of 4-betting against someone you know is a liberal 3-bettor.
Players with a high 3-bet percentage tend to not get involved in 4-bet pots simply because they rely on the power of their 3-bets to win money. When they face unexpected aggression, they’ll often just give up, unless they do happen to find a premium hand.
This basically means that they will be folding much more than they should and letting you take down the pot uncontested much of the time, so take advantage of that.