In aggressive no limit poker games, you’ll often find players reraising an initial opener. This action is called a 3-bet in hold’em. But what is a 3-bet poker in poker? Why do you do it and what are the benefits? Read on to find out.

What is a 3-bet in poker?

A 3-bet in hold’em refers to the third bet that enters the pot after the blind and the first raise.

Why do players 3-bet in poker?

There are many reasons to 3-bet in poker depending on the pot odds, stack sizes, position and the type of game your playing. For example, tournaments, cash games, pot limit or no limit.

The simple reason why players 3-bet in hold’em is because they are aggressive players looking to chip up.

Why should I 3-bet?

Using the 3 bet effectively takes some practice.

It isn’t a play you’ll make with a lot of frequency, even for the super aggressive player. But understanding the basic concept and how to effectively mix it into your preflop and postflop game adds a facet to your game. It makes you dangerous and unpredictable to opponents.

Master the 3 bet and raise your game. Check out some scenarios where it definitely makes sense to 3-bet in poker.

The 3-bet shove

Perhaps the easiest example of a 3 bet is the 3-bet shove. This is when a player opens the pot and you shove in all your chips over the top. Simple in its execution, you leave it up to your opponent to decide what to do next.

This is a popular tactic if you’re a short stack in a tournament, giving you the chance to chip up whether you’re called or not. Especially compared to open shoving and stealing just the blinds and antes.

3-bet shove example

You’ve got a stack of t6,000 when the blinds are t200/t400/(t50) at an 8 handed table. You have an M of 6 and it costs t1,000 a round to play. Open shoving nets you a t1,000 profit when it works. However, if an aggressive player with t13,000 opens to t1,100 and you shove over her open from the button, you net a t2,100 profit every time your shove works.

You have enough left in your stack (t4,900) to get her to fold away a lot of speculative hands, as her stack is effectively halved if she calls and loses. And if she folds, you add M2 to your stack, getting you a decent step out of the danger zone.

Bluffing and the 3-bet shove

Be aware of how you’re perceived at your table and also of what your opponents are capable of before you react to a 3-bet shove. Do you think they’re capable of the 3 bet bluff? Then you may be calling that M6 shove with two sixes or KJ. Meanwhile a tight, no-frills player would probably have you folding those same hands.

Benefits of the 3-bet shove

It’s also a lot wider than most other reraises. In fact, it’s the lightest type of 3-bet in hold’em. That’s because super aggressive players can 3-bet on any two cards from the blinds for all their chips if they think the player opening on the button or cutoff are doing so light.

Standard 3-bet in cash games and tournaments

Next, let’s look at an example that is suited for both cash games and tournaments. Introducing your standard 3 bet with chips behind.

Standard 3-bet poker example

At a $1/$2 game, effective stacks $300, you open to $8 on the cutoff with two black nines. The player on the button is a tricky, aggressive player. He 3 bets you to $35. When everyone folds back to you, you have a difficult decision on your hands.

He raises enough to make it difficult to set mine, but he could also be doing this with a wide range. Having said that, he also has position, plus the 3 bet puts the power and control of the hand in his hands. That makes it hard to play against him.

This is why the deep stacked 3-bet (and, to a lesser extent, four-bet) is one of the strongest plays a player can wield in his arsenal.

Benefits of the standard 3-bet

Players that prefer to play timid and flat-call more than 3-bets in poker are passing up a lot of opportunities to take control of hands.

It can actually work as a pot controlling method against aggressive postflop players. It price sets preflop what you’re willing to pay to see the turn. Most players check to the aggressor, allowing you to use the 3 bet to see four cards for what you’d normally see three with.

The post-flop heads-up 3-bet

The final form of the 3 bet that we’ll look at is the post-flop heads-up 3-bet. This is when you bet out, get raised, and reraise, either all-in or for a significant chunk of chips.

The post-flop heads-up 3-bet example

In a $1/$2 game with $300 effective stacks, you raise preflop to $7 with two eights, and get called by the big blind. You flop a set on a wet board, 985cc, and your opponent checks. You bet $15, and your opponent check raises to $50.

This is a prime spot to 3 bet shove your stack in, as there are a lot of hands that have good equity against your seemingly monster hand, A7cc, J10. Drawing hands of that nature and taking down the $115 in the pot with your shove may actually be ideal to coin flipping for $600.

You can also use the 3-bet post-flop as an effective squeeze play with multiple players in the pot. A player bets $20 into $30 on a 4510 rainbow flop, and the super aggressive player next to act raises to $50. You hold 67d, and think there’s a fair chance you can get both players to fold if you shove $290 total into the pot.

Benefits of the post-flop heads-up 3-bet

The power of the 3 bet shove comes to your aid, as your hand looks incredibly strong on such a innocuous board. With a super aggro player making the raise, there’s a very good chance your shove will take down a $100 pot without a showdown.

Practicing the 3-bet in online poker

Now it’s time to put your new 3-bet poker skills to the test. A great place to do that is online, where you at least don’t have the pressure of people staring at you while you make your ballsy moves.

If you’re looking for a new online poker room, bet365 is a good spot. Plus there’s a sweet bet365 bonus code for new players.

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