No Limit Cash Games: 3-betting
Just as we see our results improve as we get used to continuation betting, incorporating 3-betting (raising an opening pre-flop raise) into our game is an equally positive development that should help us reach a new progress plateau.
Nowadays the high frequency of the pre-flop raise is part of the game at all levels, the ‘standard’ such aggressive play being from late position. The development of poker – particularly online – is such that the need to be aggressive has led to a tendency to raise pre-flop a little too liberally, and while we must be aware that raises can of course be indicative of hand strength, a raise from the cut-off often says more about players simply adopting a certain strategy, especially as we are urged to wade into a pot in order to assume the initiative.
Therefore, given that players in the cut-off could well be raising with any kind of hand in the hope of either picking up the pot or stepping into the Button’s shoes by forcing him out, then not only should we be looking for opportunities to exploit this typical so-called TAG play when we‘re on the Button, but we should be happy to do so with suited connectors.
Indeed 3-betting in position with a hand like 78s is an attractive option for a number of reasons. First, a loose raise-happy type will already be put under pressure if this was yet another pre-flop raise from the dirty end of a wide range, and we might pick up a ‘bonus’ pot uncontested (cumulative pots make a big difference compared to a strategy that involves never 3-betting in this situation).
Meanwhile, calling isn’t a sensible option for them either, out of position, no longer with the initiative and (as far as they are concerned) probably trailing way behind. Even if our opponent has a decent hand, this same fear combined with our positional advantage means our aggression affords us good fold equity on all manner of flops when we throw in the (consistent) continuation bet. Note also that by 3-betting with a hand like 78s we can c-bet both dangerous looking flops and ostensibly innocuous but actual monster flops like 887 with equal aggression. Moreover, should we win a massive pot in a spot like this, opponents are more likely to call us down with weak(er) holdings later down the line (remember we’ll also be 3-betting with premium hands, too).
To sum up, 3-betting ‘light’ will ideally pick up the pot (making the raiser’s future pre-flop decisions more awkward in the process), but brings with it post-flop advantages as long as we execute it properly. While 3-betting light out of position isn’t an absolute no-no, it’s much better to be in position, and ideally against late position raisers. So if we don’t steal the plumped up pot, 3-betting in optimum conditions leaves us well placed when called.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD)
32Red Poker Ambassador