3 betting; Postflop situation

by ~ June 15th, 2009. Filed under: General poker strategy, Instructional posts, Poker theory.


Here’s the crux of what I wanted to get to. I don’t have a lot of experience playing in 3 bet pots postflop because I play full ring and often at fairly low buyin levels so 3 betting is not commonplace.

First let’s make sure we know the situation. Someone has raised preflop. Someone has re-raised (3 bet). At least one person calls that level. There may be more than one caller, and the caller may or may not be the original raiser (ie. someone raises, someone calls, a third person re-raises, the original raiser folds but the caller calls again).

In all cases,

  1. One person has claimed to have a big hand (or situation) by raising,
  2. Another person has challenged them, either claiming to have a bigger hand or better situation and/or disbelieving the original raiser to some degree,
  3. At least one person has said my hand (situation) is good enough to play for that money,
  4. The pot is now large relative to stack sizes.

In the most basic situation both players start with 100 bbs. Player A raises to 3 bbs, Player B 3 bets to 9bbs, blinds fold, Player A calls for 6 more bbs, pot is now 9 + 9 + 1.5 = 19.5 bbs and both players have 91 bbs left. SPR is somewhere around 4.6 depending on if one of the players is a blind or if one has a bit less than 100 bbs or both have a little more. If another player has called as well the pot is even bigger, and the SPR is even smaller.

If you want to get it all in, and without any help from your opponent, then betting 75% on the flop gets you to just under 50, betting 50% on the turn gets you to a pot of 100 or so and you both have 50 or so left so half pot on the river would get you both in. That’s the danger and the beauty of the 3 bet pot; it’s easy to get committed.

The common statement about 3 bet pots is that “people play more straightforward”. One of the things that I’ve been told that this means is that you can bet smaller relative to pot size, just like you can bet smaller in tournaments than in cash games for the same reason; stack sizes are smaller relative to pot sizes. If betting 75% of pot works at your table, you can bet 60% in a 3 bet pot. It’s easier to deny implied odds of chasing outs and draws because the SPR ratio is low.

Say in the above example Player A checks, Player B bets 60% or 13bbs into a 19.5 bb pot making it now 32.5 bbs. Player B now has 78 bbs left. If Player A shoves that gives Player B has to call 78 to win 110.5 or 1.4 – 1 odds which isn’t awful. He has to be good 42% of the time to break even, so if he has an overpair he’s okay against a combo draw, or vice versa as well. Pairs versus OESD with a pair, flush draw with a pair, flush draw with a gut shot are all in the same percentage range when up against an overpair, or vice versa. In other words, because of the shallow stack sizes it’s easy to commit oneself to a shove or call of a shove, and easy to price yourself into being committed if that’s what you want to do.

In relative terms this is almost as if the blinds in a tournament are to the point that the stacks are now 35 bbs deep, so that a 3 bb preflop raise with a call makes the pot 3 + 3 + 1.5 = 7.5 bbs. Or, close to if you start an SnG with 1,500 chips but the blinds are now 20/40, so a 3 bb raise and call makes the pot 120 + 120 + 60 = 300, stacks of 1,500 – 120 = 1,380, SPR of 4.6.

I’m trying to build a concept of the situation, but the difference the SnG situation is that only one player made a statement of strength, and the other called. In a 3 bet cash pot one player made a statement of strength, another made a statement of more strength, and the first called, so it seems that there’s more at risk, potentially stronger hands involved, and players are potentially more married to their hands. The blind level is still 20/40 so folding is still fine as you have 34.5 big blinds. Continuation bet 200 making the pot 500 leaving you 1,180. Opponent shoves, you have the same pot odds, but on the other hand you have 1,180 chips remaining or 29.5 big blinds. I fold this most of the time. The two differences; it’s not 3 bet preflop so the hand range seems wider, plus at this point of the SnG this seems like a donkey play and I have enough chips to wait for a better situation and a better read. On the other hand, based on pot odds and depending on the flop texture, this may be a call that I’m missing.

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1 Response to 3 betting; Postflop situation

  1. Tuk

    Great article on 3 betting!

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