3 betting; the effect of Stack Sizes, and some Default Post-Flop Lines

by ~ June 22nd, 2009. Filed under: General poker strategy, Poker theory.

* Modified September 24th, 2009 *

I was fooling around in Excel and came up with this.

(Click to view full size)

The upper area is the hero, the lower area the opponent, and the center row is the pot size. The blue boxes are where I entered data and the rest of it was calculated, which means I can re-run this for different stack sizes and bet sizes.

This is my default plan for 3 betting an opponent, assuming overpairs or TPTK on the flop and OOP. Raise enough preflop, if called and the flop is okay bet the flop big, shove the turn. It might be worth noting that the 3 bet is on the large size, simply because I’m out of position post flop. Out of habit I size my 3 bets based on my position, making them larger if I’m in the blinds and smaller if I will have position postflop. One exception might be if I know the preflop raise comes from a regular blind stealer and we already have a history going in which case I probably don’t need to raise quite as big since it’s more a dialogue than a challenge. Another situation when position might not be the overriding factor is if I have a premium hand and the raise comes from a fish that I think will call anyway. In this case I want to start building the pot so I’ll raise whatever I think I can get away with.

With an underpair, say QQ on an Ace high flop, the default play may be a check/call, something like playing wa/wb except doing so out of position. On a missed flop it may be bet/fold, check/fold or a check/call depending on the flop, aggressiveness of the opponent and hand range that you put him on. Obviously the more aggressive the opponent and the more likely the flop is to have missed him as well, the more likely he’ll bet with air. Conversely if you have AK and the flop is J98, you check and he bets, I don’t think it’s worth finding out what he holds.

If I change the effective stack size to 60 bbs, meaning either you or your opponent has only 60 bbs, if you make a smaller 3 bet from the blind, you still can easily get the stacks in by the turn.

If you don’t make the preflop 3 bet smaller, you may end up being committed even by the flop. This is another example of the difficulties of playing against players with less than a full stack. Of course by the same token they are denying themselves implied odds by playing with the short stack.

Conversely it makes sense then that if you and your opponent are deepstacked, the 3 bet should be larger to deny your opponent setmining odds. Even still you have to be more careful about stacking off with top pair or an overpair. The deeper the stacks, the bigger the implied odds so the more likely a good opponent is to call your 3 bet with T9s or 77 hoping to stack you. Note the SPR in the deepstacked situation. High SPR is what characterizes deepstacked play and is all about implied odds. Harrington in his cash books starts with examples comparing three games with short, standard and deep stack cash game play pointing out how it’s perfectly reasonable to call a raise preflop with almost any two cards if the stacks are deep enough.

If instead you are in position, say there’s a mid position raise, you 3 bet and your opponent just calls, it makes sense to c-bet any dry flop. If you have some pot equity, say a gutshot draw or overs with a backdoor flush draw, and your opponent is aggressive, you might choose to check rather than to c-bet. My thinking for this is that because you have some pot equity, you might not want to be check-raised off your hand by an opponent that might have a worse hand than you have, but also might have a better hand. Same would apply to a middl’in hand, say AQ on a KQx flop. Or even AK on an Ace high non-drawy flop. With TPTK and no real draws you might be better off giving your opponent the opportunity to bluff.

On the turn if your opponent calls your flop c-bet, the default line should probably be to bet any scare card on the turn; any Ace, King, card that fills a 3 flush, ect. But the exception would now be for the opposite situation; if your opponent is a calling station and isn’t going to fold his 88, then don’t build the pot if you haven’t hit.

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