• Balance and Exploitation With Pre-Flop Three-Betting

    Added - May 19, 2014 Poker

    The pre-flop game in today's online no-limit hold'em poker games revolves primarily around the threat of three-betting and what players will do if they are facing a three-bet. At the most basic level, you have to think about your open raising range and what percentage of it you plan to fold if you face a three-bet. If you fold more than about two-thirds of the time, then you're going to be exploitable to bluffs. Along similar lines, folding less than two-thirds of the time can make you a target for heavy value betting.

    If you want to stay balanced, then you should keep your folding rates around two-thirds of the time. However, it's not always necessary to stay balanced since people won't always be exploiting your folding rates, so you can really just stay in the ballpark of two-thirds of the time and be in good shape. Folding more than 85 percent of the time, however, is probably a bad idea since you become overly predictable. Players will pick up on this and start bluffing against you since it basically amounts to free money. You have to avoid making yourself into a victim because that's much more costly than standing up for your ranges once in a while and losing.

    When it comes to three-betting yourself, you need to consider the range of the person you're facing, your position relative to them, and how the people who play behind you are likely to react. If they have a favorable folding rate, then you want to have a range that takes advantage of that by being a bit more weighted towards bluffs. A ratio of 2:1 bluffs to value bets is a good starting point, and you might want to take it to 3:1 or even 4:1 if you don't think someone will adjust. On the other hand, pulling it back to 1:1 is a good idea against players who don't fold much. You'll want to have very strong bluffing hands with blockers in these cases.

    Overall, it's all about picking up on an opponent's tendencies to figure out if you should play with balance or exploitation in one of two directions. It's not a complicated thought process, but it does require that you pay a good bit of attention because you have to have some idea of how the opponent is going to play if you want to perform well against them.