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ArticlesPostflop StrategyExploiting Aggressive 3bettors: Calling their 3bet and check-raising all in on the flop.
Exploiting Aggressive 3bettors: Calling their 3bet and check-raising all in on the flop.
Written by: Hoodlincs · Date Added: 3 Apr, 2011 · Number of views: 7831
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Pretty much in all situations, people advocate reacting to a 3bet at micro stakes by either 4betting or folding when out of position. This is because hands become tough to play when you are out of position especially when you do not have the initiative, because usually you check the flop, your opponent bets, and you don't know what to do because he might be bluffing but obviously he might have a big pair.

However, a lot of people have huge leaks in 3bet pots after being the person who made the re-raise pre-flop. For example, they will pretty much continuation bet 100% on any board that isn't super co-ordinated, such as J86 2-tone type flops.

Therefore providing that your opponent 3bets a decent amount, what it means is that you can use a little bit of maths and find some really great spots to exploit him because obviously if he is re-raising pre-flop a lot with unpaired hole cards (even AK/AQ etc), most of the time he will miss the flop - that's just a fact of hold'em poker.

So, let's take a situation like where you raise pre-flop and face a 3bet. You have AQ. Most people either fold or 4bet and then decide whether to call or fold should the opponent go all in. Assuming 100bb stacks or thereabouts, the problem with 4betting and folding to a shove is that you have a great price to call. And if he ever does anything retarded like 5bet all in as a bluff then you cost yourself so much money and make a huge theoretical mistake because you folded the best hand. Additionally the problem with 4betting and calling a shove is you pretty much never get it in ahead unless he bluff shoves, and that you so often get it in against AK and you are crushed.

"OK... so what should I do with AQ if I can't 4bet?"

You can still commit to seeing all 5 cards but in a different way. You can call the 3bet. You can check the flop, and you can let him continuation bet with almost his entire range... then check-raise all in. The primary reason is that this is going to make him fold out AK, which currently crushes you, and therefore makes him make a massive theoretical mistake by folding a hand with about 85% equity. It also capitalises on a vast amount of fold equity because of course he will be folding any hand which isnt a pair.

"Can't we check-raise smaller and fold to a shove? Can't we just call the continuation bet and look to take it away on some turns?"

When you check-raise and fold to a shove, you are making such a massive, massive error if he ever shoves with gutshot straight draws or just random hands like QK/AJ thinking they have fold equity. The amount you lose doing that is so huge and while it is rare you just can't allow yourself to make errors like that in poker.

When you call, usually you will not have a great idea of how your opponent plays turn and therefore you won't be able to make good decisions. maybe the turn comes and he checks back JJ/Tx to bluff catch the river when you bet? maybe the turn comes and he picks up a draw and decides to barrel, and you end up folding the best hand? Unless you know your opponent very well, it's just too tricky to call and see a turn that calculating the EV of doing so is impossible.

when we calculate shoving the flop, we can automatically see whether it will be +EV or -EV. We can then compare this to folding (which is 0 EV) and see which option is better.

"Can you show me the maths then to prove/disprove this theory"

Of course, you can look at the maths here if you like, however to stop this thread becoming boring for those who don't want to read a bunch of maths, basically vs an opponent 3betting about 9% in this blind v blind spot, you will make about a very good profit by check-shoving a bunch of flops which are dry give you backdoor flush or straight draws.

"But we don't represent ANYTHING by check-shoving this flop? with a marginal hand like Tx we would check-call and with a set we would either check-call because the board is dry or we would check-raise small, wouldn't we? Can't he just tell this HAS to be a bluff!?!?"

Well, maybe when you are looking at this hand from the perspective of having a bluff, you might think that.

However, in game villains will most likely just put you on 88/99/JT and think you don't know what to do, so you just check-shove to end the hand before a scary turn card comes. furthermore, even if he does think you can be bluffing sometimes, people just don't call with AK here - I mean if you posted this hand in the forums from villain's perspective where you get check-raised all in on T42 and you have AK high, everyone will just obviously tell you fold.

"So... What you're saying is that I should just call every 3bet with AQ and check-raise all in on every flop that I miss?"

Of course not! if you are against a tight 3bettor, or someone who checks back AK type hands a lot on this type of board then the play can quickly become very, very -EV. However, most players at micro and small stakes will just be auto firing these type of boards, and when their 3bet% is high enough, that will just create hugely +EV spots to check/shove like this.

Also, when utilising plays like this you should not only consider the maths, but also be strongly considering the gameflow (which I talk about here), because there will be certain situations where recent history means someone who 3bets a lot overall may not be 3betting a lot vs YOU specifically (e.g. if he has recently shown down a bluff) and therefore the logic of using maths like this goes out of the window.

However, it is still good to be able to realise things like this are +ev providing you are in the right situation, and hopefully after reading this article you will be able to identify profitable situations in which to apply this article in the future.

Thank you for reading, please leave any comments/questions underneath and I will try and respond as helpfully as I can.

Comments (13)
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Bruce Kehl 21 Mar, 2012
Free Member
A lot to think about....

How long did it take you to get all this down, Jack, or are you one of those math whizzes who gets it and can apply it much more quickly, and intelligently, than I?

Yes, one link led me out to google search...
John Mackay 18 May, 2011
Free Member Verified Member
nice article - i was wondering, when you playing against a very aggressive opponent who 3Bs Vwide and is capable of firing 3 barrels with air and also will rep an A or Q if it is dealt by barrelling turn / river, do you ever chkcall 3 streets b/c we keep in his total bluffs and maybe stand to make more moneny if the turn/ rivs a Q or A?
HLP James
James Andrews 18 May, 2011
Free Member Verified Member
Hey James - I've just updated the link ;)
Randall G.
Randall Gonzales 18 May, 2011
Free Member Verified Member
i think both links don't work ? . . great read
Team HLP definitely has a ring to it :)
Dez Heighes 18 May, 2011
Premium Member Verified Member
Another great article by Team HLP Jack... Has a kindda ring to it, no?
this is so good hate to see you giving info like this away :P
ok thanks for that. hmmm not sure why but i will fix it
James Morin 18 May, 2011
Free Member
The link isn't working - http://beta.www.higherlevelpoker.co.uk/article/4
Chris Bull 26 Feb, 2011
Free Member
Nice post Jack - certainly worth thinking about
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