Its just way too fun to repop someone when you know it will work.
To be sure your threebets are achieving their desired response, you have to look for the right things. In this article, we’re going to look a little more into threebetting when you’re in position, and how to gain the upper hand preflop on a variety of opponents.
Firstly, let´s talk about the size of your threebets. The bet sizing is where many people botch an otherwise correct threebet. Too many players make the same threebet sizes in position as they make out of position. This is suboptimal in my mind. Out of position, you often want to charge your opponent for trying to take a flop against you. If they do take a flop you want the inflated pot size to neutralize what positional tools they have. It will be harder for them to float you or make a speculative raise of your continuation bet if it represents a significant portion of their stack.
In position, we possess all the tools. We get to see what our opponent does before we do anything, we get to decide when we see free cards, and we can deny them the chance of seeing the next card should we wish to extract value or initiate our bluff. Having position in No Limit is like having a sniper rifle. You’d like to draw your opponent out onto the open field, not scare them back into the woods.
So, make your threebets smaller in position. I recommend, for beginners, that you make your threebets out of position anywhere from 2.7X to 3.2X your opponent’s open size. In position, I’d recommend threebetting to 2.2X to 2.6X your opponent’s open size.
If you want to be completely transparent, you can pick a number between that range and stick to it every time. This will remove a huge leak I see in many player’s games. When they have a hand like AA they timebank and then reraise to a smaller size, so as to feign weakness and indecision. However, when they have AK, they approach things differently. They know they’re supposed to play for stacks in many 30-40 big blind situations, but they’re uncomfortable with gambling. So, they kind of get their nerve up and put the bet out there before they can second guess themselves. They reraise instantly and make the sizing a little bigger, as if to say “okay buddy let’s play for stacks.” The increased bet size in this situation discourages weaker aces from flatting, which loses us value. Our unbalanced approach has made our hand more face up.
The timing of the threebet is crucial to note in this example. There’s so many guys who timebank down before they reraise with a real holding, but who instantly reraise when they have a slightly weaker holding.
If you have statistics you check on a HUD when you have a tough decision, get in the habit of checking them every time. I might know I am going to threebet AK on the button versus a certain opponent, but I have to pretend like I have A-7o. So, I check their “raise first” numbers always. Before, I might have only taken the time to do that when I was looking for a reason to reraise with crap. Of course, you might have other tables going on, and be unable to check the stat, so just click on your other tables and let the seconds tick off so as to simulate this process.
To make it more random I suggest looking at the minute hand on your computer’s clock and counting to that number, after your allotted stat checking time. Many great great online players are incredibly good at feeling out if a timebank was authentic or not. If you follow this process, they will be unable to read your most aggressive preflop action.
Now, while sticking to one threebet size always is great practice in being unexploitable, in tournaments we often don’t need to be completely balanced. Many players we will see only once or twice, and they don’t know how we play against everyone else. Furthermore, we may play with a player a lot, but he could be 20-tabling and not paying great attention.
So, then the question becomes what is the desired result of our threebet? If we’re a bluffing type player, then we will want our opponents to just fold to the threebet a lot of the time, so we should get in the habit of making the smallest size threebet that makes them feel they can’t flat. By risking the least amount possible we’ll make it so we can threebet bluff from smaller stack sizes. Risking a smaller amount to win the same amount means our threebet doesn’t have to work as often for it to still be profitable, whereas if you risk a lot to win your opponent’s open you will need the threebet to work quite often.
Of course, a larger threebet does carry more of a punch than a smaller one, but the question is how much of a punch? In my research, I find 2.4X my opponent´s open size to work about as much as a 3x against 90% of opponents, so I generally veer toward smaller bets. If I am going to threebet to a larger amount as a bluff then I will 3bet to something like 3.5X to 4X my opponent´s open size. I only do this once in a while, and its when I feel like somebody behind me is dying to cold 4bet me, or when the initial opener wants to jam with nothing. It´s a good thing to throw in there once or twice a session, and usually never against the same regular. If you keep doing it people won´t take it as seriously. Generally, the first time they’ll be confused and just give you credit for being a donkey with a premium. After that, they start to see its part of your normal routine, and the additional chip investment no longer gains you much.
To make your threebets more effective always always check on some specific statistics before you threebet. Those statistics are Fold To Threebet, Flat Threebet, and their Raise First numbers from that particular position. This will allow you to construct the threebet that will be the most profitable. For instance, if they fold 70% of the time or more to threebets, they probably are just disciplined against any kind of threebet. Therefore, a small threebet sizing is all that is needed against this type of player. If they fold 50% of the time and flat 30% of the time, and you’re completely bluffing, you will want that fold percentage to go up and that flat percentage to decrease. These numbers are indicative of a player that is capable of folding to a threebet, but might need some extra encouragement. Therefore, make the threebet a little larger than normal.
Now if their Fold to Threebet is low and their call percentage is high, then your hand is of some importance, since you’re actually going to be seeing a flop now. You can widen your threebetting range to include A-x you’d usually flat, such as A-J, because they will flat with suited small aces others might fold. Medium pairs increase in value too, because they will flat smaller suited connectors that will make inferior pairs.
The suited one-gappers and whatnot become better bluffing hands than just Ace blocker hands. A weak ace can make a real inferior top pair, and lose you money when the opponent likes to see flops. Suited and connected hands carry more possibilities versus a flatting type of player. If the guy is more ABC, and either folds to a 3bet or 4bets, than the Ace blocker hands go up in value, and the suited/connected hands are worthless since you are never seeing a flop.
If a guy likes to flat threebets out of position than check his fold to continuation bet statistic, and if it’s 50% or higher you can just threebet them with all sorts of barely connected and suited crap, because your continuation bet bluff is going to work so often.
Check the Raise First numbers too, always. If a person folds a lot to threebets, but is opening a very tight range of hands from early position, than that’s probably not where they’re raise/folding from.
In summary, these are the things I think of before I reraise someone. I hope I’m teaching you something, because poker really is an engrossing game when you delve into it’s intricacies. Good luck to all of you.
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