Calling min-3bets preflop

Often during hand discussions, people’s opinions on whether to call or fold to a min-3bet pre-flop divert depending on who you’re talking to. This short article will answer the question once and for all.

First of all, we have to base our decision on a few basic assumptions:

1) We’re deep stacked: You can’t call a min-3bet pre-flop if you’re 7BB deep for obvious reasons. So I generally only recommend calling when 40BB or deeper, but it’s obviously villain dependant. If he’s been 3betting you 8 out of his 10 last hands when he was OOP, then you should be more willing to call.

2) Our villain has a standard 3betting range: AJ+, TT+, KQ, and some suited connectors

3) For this example, we assume a “min-3bet” is a 2x raise over our button raise, instead of the “standard” 3x raise people usually apply when 3-betting. Eg: I open for 90 chips, and he raises me to 180 chips. We’re now getting 2:1 (33%) pot odds.

In general, I would call min-3bets pre-flop with ANY TWO CARDS as long as I’m 40BB+ deep. My reasoning is based on the probability of flopping something that might beat his 3-betting range, including hands such as AK. I am only basing my reasoning on the types of hands we can flop, because if you miss the flop, you’ll often be faced with a cbet which you cannot call if you miss.

If you call with any two cards, you’ll have the following chances of hitting certain hands:

- 2% of flopping a flush draw (1 to a flush)

- 29% of flopping a pair

- 2% of flopping 2-pair

- 1% of flopping trips

- I’m disregarding full houses and quads, because they’re “gin” hands with a very low probability of flopping.

Overall, that means in 34% of the cases, we’ll hit the flop in a way that makes it possible for us to have the best hand. Obviously not every pair you flop will be good, but that’s something you have to re-evaluate on the flop. Not every 3bet is a strong pocket pair (TT+), and depending on the flop, your flopped pair of 8s might be good against his likely 3-betting range.

Now if your cards are suited, you can add another 12% chance of flopping a flush or flush draw…which easily dominates even TPTK.

In addition, if you’re holding a pocket pair, you will flop trips 11% of the time on the flop. Obviously, you will often come over the top with higher pocket pairs, but don’t even think about folding 22 to a min-3bet!

So to summarize:

1) No matter what hand you’re holding, you beat the odds he’s giving you by min-raising. You only need to win 33% of the time, and you’re overall odds of hitting the flop in a way that beats a standard 3-betting range are higher than that.

2) You are not calling only based on the pre-flop bet amount, but mostly because of implied odds! Most (bad) villains only 3bet strong hands, especially if they’re tight, so if you hit the flop hard in a way that beats his  3-betting range, then it’s very likely you’ll stack him.

Stacking a villain holding AA with 72o because he chose to min-3bet giving you the odds to call and see a nice flop is one of the finest moments in poker in my opinion…so don’t be a donkey, and make sure you call those min-3bets from now on!


Credits: Primo had a quick look at the article before I posted it, and managed to correct some "alcohol" fueled math. Nevertheless, if you find any other crucial mistakes, make sure to blame me ;)

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