Quickfact #14 The Fastest Way To Lose Money In Poker Is To Build Big Pots And Then Give Up On Them. Don’t Be That Guy!
Quickstat #14 Facing A 12% PFR With A Hand Like 8653ds, One Of Your Suits Is Dominated ~55% Of The Time. Both Are Dominated 10% Of The Time.
WHO SHOULD WE THREE-BET?
Now that we know which hands are good to three-bet, the next question (and perhaps the most important one) is: which players do we three-bet? Let’s begin by identifying the two key factors to look for, and then I’ll spend some time discussing each one individually to make sure you understand why it’s important.
Two Key Factors:
- Pre-flop Raise Percentage (PFR)
- Response to c-bets in three-bet pots
The first item to look for when deciding whether to three-bet someone is their PFR. It’s important to point out that three-bet calling ranges are very high in PLO, particularly IP. One of the main differences between NLHE and PLO is how the action plays out in three-bet pots. In NLHE, three-bet pots have a different dynamic because players are generally using two ranges; a bluff three-betting range, and a value three-betting range. Now, when three-betting in NLHE, the main statistic to focus on isn’t just what their PFR is, it’s how often they continue facing a three-bet; or put more simply, how often they call, fold, or four-bet every time you slap ‘em upside the head with a three-bet.
Let me test your NLHE knowledge for a second by posing a couple of questions. What’s the correct adjustment against an opponent opening 25% of hands, and calling 85% of three-bets? The best adjustment is to three-bet wider for value. On the other hand, if an opponent is opening 25% of hands, but folding to 85% of three-bets, that best adjustment is to simply three-bet bluff wider. You follow me?
In PLO, since the equities are closer and players don’t fold to three-bets often, bluff three-betting ranges don’t exist, and what all of this means is that similar to Hold’em, the best players to attack with three-bets are the aggressive openers. It’s important to note that the term “aggressive opener” can be used fairly subjectively depending on the context of the situation, but for now just realize the three categories of hands previously mentioned for three-are designed to work against the standard opening ranges of opponents with PFR’s ranging from 15-25%. The tighter a player’s opening range is, the less you should three-bet them with the hands in the widening group.
Nevertheless, keep in mind how important it is to look for excuses to play heads-up pots with weaker players. Remember, the vast majority of profit comes from playing pots with fish. For example, if you find yourself on the fence about whether you want to three-bet, you should be inclined to three-bet if the opponent is a weaker player.
Let’s look at two different scenarios. In the first hand, we’re facing an open in position against someone playing a 30 VPIP / 20 PFR style, and in the second scenario we’re faced with an open against an opponent playing a 60 VPIP / 20 PFR style. We should be more inclined to three-bet the 60/20 player, because although they share the same PFR, the 60/20 player is more likely to be a weaker opponent. Therefore, he is more likely to play poorly post-flop and make mistakes we can capitalize on which the 30/20 player won’t.
The next key factor when choosing a three-betting range is how opponents respond to continuation bets in three-bet pots. There are two exploitable leaks concerning how players respond to c-bets in three-bet pots. The ideal situation occurs when a player on our right opens too much and plays fit or fold post-flop. Against these players, you can three-bet any hand that falls into one of the three categories we mentioned earlier, because his tendencies in three-bet pots will make hand reading an easy task. They generally check-fold when they miss, check-raise when they flop strong, or check-call when they have a medium strength hand. It’s an easy game if you ask me!
The second leak is when players stack off too light in three-bet pots. Adjusting against players like this is easy; simply stick to three-betting the premiums and playability group, and watch the stacks migrate into your corner. More often than not, these are the maniacs at the table who open anything reasonably connected and suited, and then can’t help going broke when they flop a pair and a gutter against your pair plus flush draw. Simply put, the key is to three-bet the hands that dominate their stack off range post-flop.
WHO SHOULDN’T WE THREE-BET?
Just to make sure we have all of our bases covered, let’s talk about the players we shouldn’t widen our three-betting range against. The first and most obvious player type are the nitty openers, which makes sense because they’re the opposite of the player type we want to three-bet the most; the aggressive openers. Now, we’ve talked a lot about how the key to winning stacks in three-bet pots is to dominate our opponents combo draws post-flop, right? Well, three-betting tight openers light is an easy way to accomplish the reverse of this, and many times if you decide to three-bet a hand without checking your HUD or identifying the player type first, you’ll end up three-betting a dominated hand that has reverse implied odds post-flop.
For example, according to Tom Chambers’ book Advanced PLO Theory, when holding 8♣6♦5♣3♦ and facing an opponent with a 12% PFR, one of your suits will be dominated over half of the time, while both of your suits will be dominated 10% of the time. This all sounds quite ominous, but it’s not as scary as it sounds. For now you can save some money in the future by simply remembering not to three-bet nits with a wide range.
The tightest opening ranges come from under the gun, but something I’d like to point out is that even though HUD’s are an extremely useful tool, they can definitely be misleading. If you don’t know how to use them correctly, they might ultimately cause you to make big mistakes. For example, most players that see someone playing a 25/20 tend to forget that the given PFR in a HUD is an average of their opening range at the table, not for the specific position they’re opening from. What this means is that someone who’s playing a 25/20 is likely opening UTG with a range closer to 10%, so before you three-bet someone, make sure you consider their opening range from that given position.
Some players aren’t positionally aware, but especially as you move up in stakes, the majority of player’s ranges change a lot depending on where they’re opening from, so it’s important to adjust accordingly. Also, this concept applies to situations where you can three-bet wider as well. As players get closer to the BTN, their opening ranges generally widen as well. So using the same example from a second ago, the player with an average PFR of 20% may open only 10% of hands from UTG, but it’s likely that he opens 40% or more from the CO and BTN, which means you should definitely three-bet him lighter if that’s the case.