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3-Betting & 3-Betting Light

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The 3-betting light concept adds an extra advantage to the game of poker and makes it less monotonous and dull, even when you are winning money with your current strategy.

3-betting will transform your game if you are a mid-stake player in the same way your game was transformed when you first discovered the continuation bet.

The 3-betting notion has better results in mid-stakes poker games between $50NL and $200NL.

  • What is 3-betting?
  • Why use 3-bet?
  • When and where to 3-bet light.
  • How to 3-bet in an effective way.

What is 3-betting and 3-betting light?


The first thing you should understand is what a 3-bet before the flop is.

3-bet refers to the situation in which there has been a raise and then another raise after that. The concept is simple but easier to understand with an example: after the SB and BB make the $1 and $2 blinds, suppose there is a raise to $8 made by a player in MP. In case another player in LP raises again to $24, this is known as a 3-bet.

Probably, the poker hold’em player who is making the 3-bet has a solid poker hand, usually something like QQ+ or AK, which is why they are making their second raise before the flop.

Although there were only two raises it is known as a 3-bet because the BB is considered as a bet in itself, which means the first raise is the 2nd bet and the second raise is the 3-bet.

3-betting light

As we said before, the poker Texas Hold’em player making the 3-bet will probably have a good hand such as QQ+ or AK. As a result, we talk about 3-betting light when you choose to make a 3-bet when you have a not so incredible hand, for example 67, 78 or any similar suited connector.

To sum up, the 3-betting light concept refers to the moment when you make a 3-bet when you are holding a not premium hand before the flop.

Although it may seem like a risky move, 3-betting light has the potential to be a great +EV move when you use it right. Don’t underestimate its power, remember that at first you probably thought continuation betting was a dangerous move, and it is not.

Why use 3-bet?

Currently, players tend to make preflop raises in a broad number of hands. Poker players could have almost any poker hand when they decide to make a raise before the flop in LP or at least that is the way in which any respectable TAG would play.

When we call these raises having with a strong hand, or not such a good hand like 78s, we are at a disadvantage because the other player has the initiative in the hand. By the time of the flop, the truth our option is folding or hitting a top pair better.

In general, 3-betting when in position will have the effect to put loose raisers in a position in which calling a 3-bet is -EV due to their broad opening range. Besides, it ends with their initiative.

The advantages offered by 3-betting

  • Calling 3-bets becomes –EV for the other players because players open with a wide selection of poker hands.
  • In general, 3-betting can be much more +EV than just calling.
  • Since poker players almost always are afraid of AA when they are confronted with a 3-bet, we have a great advantage for the flop, which is why we should bet.
  • It allows you to recover the initiative in the hand.
  • In the future, the other poker players in the hand will call you down having less strong hands if they see that you 3-bet in such a light way.

Although it may be scary to make an extra re-raise before the flop, particularly when you are 3-betting light, take into account that you need to play in a brave way if it is going to be a +EV play and you want to win money.

This does not mean that 3-betting light is a way to punish players who tend to raise loosely and make them fold. Sometimes when you 3-bet light you will get called, but you’ll still have advantages when you get to the flop.

When and where to 3-bet light

Situations in which you should 3-bet light:

  • When you have mid connectors or suited connectors such as 67, 78 and 89, and also when you have 1 gap suited connectors, for example 68 and 79.
  • When you are in position. Playing a 3-bet pot out of position is tricky (although not impossible).
  • In general, you’d want to 3-bet raisers from LP since raiser from EP will generally have a strong hand.
  • Use 3-betting light when you are playing against TAG (Tight-Aggressive) and semi-TAG poker players.

One of the best opportunities to 3-bet light is when a TAG from LP raises and you are on the button or in the CO.

In this position, this kind of players will probably raise with a broad range of hands and they are likely to fold when they face aggression. This is the reason why 3-betting will give you an advantage.

Remember that you should never 3-bet light against poker players who are:

  1. Extremely tight and only raise with premium hands. As a result, your 3-bet will absolutely get called.
  2. Extremely loose because they will call anyway and they will make us lose our fold equity.

Follow these guidelines and you should be able to learn how to detect when there is a +EV spot to 3-bet.

How to 3-bet

In an ideal situation, you want your opponent to fold, which means you’ll win a nice pot and, in general, make your opponent tighten up the hands they open from late position.

In case your bet is called and you miss the flop, you’ll be in the perfect situation to make a continuation bet and win the pot. Don’t be scared to make that bet, in the long run it is a +EV.

  • Hands not to use 3-bet light in.
  • What to do on the flop if you are called.

Hands not to use 3-bet light in

You should not 3-bet light in poker hands with lower tier broadway hands such as KQ, KJ QJ and also in poker hands with weaker aces such as AJ. This is because if you 3-bet with these cards, your opponent will dominate you with their cards (ex.: AQ+, JJ+).

In case you have a lower suited connector such as 78s, you still can do damage with your two free cards. Besides, you’ll find it easier to play post-flop because there will be less chances that you get tied in with a marginal hand in which you have top pair weak kicker, for example.

You should only play with 3-betting premiums like QQ+ and AK and lower suited connectors like 56 - 9T.

It is better for you to call with less than premium broadway hands than 3-betting with them preflop.

What to do on the flop if you are called

In case you miss the flop, you should make a continuation bet of approximately 2/3 the size of the pot.

It is not necessary to make a pot size bet in a 3-bet pot, 2/3 is enough and will save you money in case you lose.

3-betting will give you power in the hand because your opponent will always be scared that you may have pocket Aces or pocket Kings, you should take advantage of this. If your opponent calls, juts check or call on the turn and leave the hand. However, most of the time, a continuation bet will work perfectly.

If you get to the flop and you don’t have anything with a value that makes it worth betting, you should check and call. However, most of the time you’ll have a strong hand or nothing at all, and in both situations you should bet.

Evaluation of 3-betting light

The purpose of this article is that after you read it all, and it is quite a long article, you understand the theory behind 3-betting lightly and how you can win money with it.

You should not abuse 3-betting. 3-betting and 3-betting lightly can turn out to be really +EV in the right moments, but it can also affect your stack if you are careless. It’s better to drop down a level to get some experience with 3-betting until you feel comfortable with it.

All mid-stakes players should perfect this strategy and add it to their poker game.

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