C-betting in 3 Bet Pots

Shorthanded cash games have become very aggressive in recent years and part of this aggression has been a marked increase in 3-betting pre-flop. In order to maintain a solid winrate, thinking about how to play in 3-bet pots should be an essential part of your poker strategy.

In this article, we deal with the concept of continuation betting in 3-bet pots when you are the aggressor and someone has called your 3-bet. In single raised pots, you should be continuation betting about 70% of the time overall. A few years ago it used to be profitable to c-bet virtually 100% of the time in heads-up pots because people folded so often.

Nowadays however, people are wise to this strategy and play back against continuation bets much more often, making a more judicious approach necessary. In 3-bet pots, you’ll probably find that your c-bet % can be a little higher because of the strength which you have shown pre-flop. For most players it will be between 75 and 80%.

Because the correct strategy varies so much depending on whether you were in- or out-of-position when you made the 3-bet, we’re going to split the article into two.

Continuation Betting in 3Bet Pots in Position

If you’re continuation betting in a 3-bet pot in position, the majority of the time you’ll be on the cut-off or button, as most people will only 3-bet a very narrow range in middle position. The first thing you need to consider is what kind of hands your opponent is calling 3-bets with out of position. A commonly perceived range for this would be hands like TT or AQ, which they feel aren’t strong enough to get all-in preflop with, but are too strong to fold.

You should be aware that many players will call 3-bets with weaker pocket pairs and, depending on your image, hands as weak as KQ or AT. As much as the player who calls a 3-bet out of position tries, its difficult for him to disguise his range too much.

If we assume you’re 3-betting a polarized range in position, then your obviously going to bet all of your strong hands like overpairs and top-pair-top-kicker type hands most of the time. Note though, that checking back with these hands can be a good strategy sometimes in order to balance for the times where you check back KK on an A high board. You never want it to be the case that you are only checking back when you’re not happy with the flop.

In deciding whether or not you want to check or bet in the situation where there’s an overcard to your pocket pair, you need to know how likely it is that your opponent will try to barrel you off your hand. Against aggressive opponents, checking back and bluff catching can be a good strategy here.

When there are two overcards, such as a situation where you might have QQ on an AK5 board it’s probably best to wave the white flag and hope your opponents checks it down, and perhaps try a value bet on the river, hoping to get paid off by his lower pairs.

With your 3-bet bluffs you should be betting most flops, particularly those that hit your perceived range like Ace and King high flop. You should also bet when you catch some of the board. For example if you have 67o on a 78K board, you shouldn’t be checking it back, hoping to see a cheap showdown with your weak pair, you should be using your pair as a 5-out semi-bluff, hoping your opponent will fold TT or JJ (perhaps also barreling the turn).

Continuation Betting in 3Bet Pots Out of Position

When you’re out of position and deciding whether or not to continuation bet, chances are you’re in the blinds and have 3-bet a late position raiser. People’s ranges for calling your 3-bet will be a lot wider when they are in position and for this reason it is a good idea to weight your 3-betting towards broadway type hands which have very good equity against opponents who are calling 3-bets in position with medium suited connectors and pocket pairs.

Continuation betting in 3-bet pots when out of position is very opponent specific. There are opponents who tend to call 3-bets out of frustration but who play a fit or fold game with their speculative hands. Against this type of player you can continuation bet almost 100% of the time.

Against more trickey opponents who will be floating your continuation bets, or even bluff raising you, you need to be more cautious and be more inclined to check to them when you miss. A lot of players make the mistake of blindly continuing the aggression which they showed pre-flop and then before they know it, they’re all in with bottom pair! Remember of course to balance your checking range in these spots.

You don’t want your aggressive opponents to know that a check from you in these spots means you are always giving up. You should be checking your strong hands sometimes too, so they will be less inclined to bet automatically when you check to them.

One thing a lot of players struggle with is the situation where they 3-bet a hand like KK or QQ out of position and an overcard comes on the flop. When this happens, they go into check-and-guess mode, calling their opponent down because they think they’re obliged to due to the fact that they’ve under-represented their hand. It’s almost always better to just lead out in these spots.

Some people would argue that worse hands won’t call and better won’t fold, but that’s not entirely true. It’s certainly possible that lower pocket pairs or 2nd pair type hands will call and in any case, winning a small pot on the flop is better than opening yourself up to being bluffed on later streets because you’ve yielded the betting lead to your opponent.