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How to Adjust Against Players With a High 3-Bet Percentage
How to adjust against players with a high 3-bet percentage
Now you know more about how and when to increase your 3-betting frequency in response to your opponent's tendencies. People are often also very curious about the opposite question – what do you do when you are that reg who is getting 3-bet frequently? How do you adjust? Here are the main points to concentrate on.
1. 4-bet wider. I believe that going all-in has the best expectation readless with any small pair against a pot-sized 3-bet 50bb deep, but you can extend that to 75bb deep against a frequent 3-bettor. Suited Ax hands should be jammed as well. Whether or not to develop a 4-bet bluffing range depends on the qualities of your opponent - most maniacs who 3-bet wide will also get it in rather wide as well, and it can be a mistake to try to 4bet bluff. Realize that when you jam with A5s or 33, you are not really bluffing. Occasionally you will get a better hand to fold, but the majority of your equity comes from the fact that your hand is stronger than your opponent’s 3-betting range. Sure, technically you are folding out a T8s type hand that has the correct equity to call against your specific holding, but the real point is that your hand is quite strong against that 3-betting range. Against good, thinking regs who keep raising from t60 to t150 every hand 40-50bb deep, it is essential to develop a 4bet bluffing range. Especially if your opponent sees you as conservative (which may be why they are employing this strategy), they will likely start out by giving your 4-bets a lot of credit.
2. Experiment with limping. Especially shortstacked, I often advise limping against frequent 3-bettors with hands that flop well but aren't quite strong enough to call a 3-bet jam. The same concept can be applied to deeper stacked play. Think about those hands that aren't quite strong enough to call a potsized 3-bet: T7o, J8o, Q8o, K8o, Q6s, etc. These hands can work great in a limping range, primarily because they are all strong enough to call a 3x raise if your opponent gets aggressive against limps, and all play well in limped pots. Having a middling limping range gives your opening range a much higher percentage of monsters, and if your opponent fails to adjust to that, you’ll make a ton of money off a 3-bet range that is way too wide for your opening range. You will also have very positive expectation playing these middling hands in position with a limp, significantly better than consistently minraise/folding.
3. Give serious thought to gameflow. Especially against thinking regs, who can be particularly transparent about it, exploiting unbalanced tendencies in their gameflow adjustments can be very profitable. I have a large sample against one opponent, for example, who 3-bets wide but can be rather obvious about it gameflow wise - if he has not 3-bet in 5-10 opportunities, there is a very high chance he is bluffing, and if he just 3-bet or made some fancy move the previous hand and won the pot, he will rarely ever 3-bet wide right after it. A lot of regs are like this, trying to space out their 3-bets because of the impression that a third 3-bet in four opportunities is going to be treated as weak, and perceived as opponent going crazy with aggression. This means that you can actually play more aggressively against the first 3-bet in a while from a reg who has been 3-betting frequently over established history, and more conservatively against a 3-bet that comes at a more conventionally suspect time. Sure, you can level yourself all day with this analysis, but most regs will stay pretty consistently on the second level. Even though it is not true for every reg, what is universal is that you can make a lot of money by picking up on unbalanced frequencies relating to how your opponent reacts to gameflow, in either direction.
4. Make sure you’re not always playing fit-or-fold on the flop. The wider your opponent's 3-betting range is, the greater percentage of that range will be air on the flop. Especially if you have a nitty image and your opponent is not a calling station, you have to take advantage of the fact that when you call a 3-bet with 89s and the flop comes J72, your opponent's percentage of overpairs and Jx is far lower than if he were 3-betting a tight range. Pick your spots to contest, especially when you can credibly represent hands and you have a tight image that your opponent is capable of noticing.
5. Remember that your opponent’s flatting range is vitally important, too. Whether or not you should fold more of your weak hands preflop from the button depends on how many hands your opponent is playing OOP, not just how often he is re-raising. He can be 3-betting 40%, but if he never just calls, it is still correct to raise it up into the maniac with your 23o. The higher his VPIP in the big blind is, the more junky hands you should be willing to fold.
6. Focus on the composition of his 3-betting range, not just the frequency. If your opponent is 3-betting a polarized range (strong hands and much weaker holdings), that is a great recipe to start making small 4-bet bluffs. Additionally, the composition of the 3-betting range tells you a great deal about how to play pots when he just calls OOP, rather than re-raising. If he 3-bets really wide for value, you should give him even less credit on ace and king high boards when he flats a button open, and you should be prepared to 3-bet bluff the flop when he check/raises them. This is a concept I have seen students do well in understanding the logic of, but do a poor job of actually applying in-game. Sometimes, the most important thing you learn from seeing certain hands in one range is that those hands are NOT in another range. One broader example of this is that people generally do an extremely poor job of changing their c-betting range against opponents who donkbet frequently for value. Because of this frequency, many hands that would continue against a continuation bet are no longer in the big blind’s checking range, and it becomes correct to c-bet a very wide range even on typically dangerous flop textures.
It can be frustrating to play against very aggressive opponents, especially when you feel you are too card-dead to take advantage. The way to maximize your expectation is to focus on your opponent’s frequencies and react to the composition of those ranges. Force your opponent to either make large errors or adjust to your changes, and realize that the strength of your holdings dramatically changes when your opponent has atypically weak ranges. Stay ahead of your opponent's approach and keep him as the one who is aggravated at your frequencies.