August 29, 2009

3bet obsession is a losing strategy

I have been playing ring games seriously for nearly 10months now. I started at 5nl and really did do the whole bank roll thing, and now I am seriously overrolled for 100nl as per the standard "rules" posted by those in the know. So I am no authority on the game as yet, but I have been through the grind.

I have notice a spot where there is such big money that is there for the taking, that I would advise all newish micros like me to concentrate on the 3bet pot. The whole 3bet thing has just gotten silly amongst a fairly large proportion of micro players, from 50nl upwards. Below 50nl I really would play fit or fold in any 3bet situation, fitting only with premiums. But at 50nl upwards, otherwise good players display a massive leak in their games by a stupid obsession with 3betting and 100% contbet follow through without thinking through the most profitable line. If you can get your head round this, you can be come a VERY profitable player, with a minimum amount of post flop skill in my view.

When 3betting, you need to think about why you are doing it, and this is where their leaks start. If its a bluff, think why, and what to do if called. If its for value, think why, and what to do by the turn. If its because you don't believe your opponent, well....that ain't enough. There's loads more to say about this, but I know I am a winning player with a (comparatively) low 3bet %, and I am happy for that. The simple fact is, if I believe I am ahead of my opponent, and I think he will keep betting into me post flop, but fold if I 3bet, then I am simply calling. OOP there are a few more things to think about, but you are losing a ton of value by auto 3betting premiums 100% of the time and balancing with 3bet bluffs 20-30% of time. A ton.

Now don't convince yourself that this is metagame and all that baloney. If you have 5k hands on your villain, and a load of history then maybe. But at the micros, with players moving up or down and, depending on your site, a huge player pool, there is no metagame. Furthermore, there are just to many players who will never fold with any piece of any flop, so forget metagame.

There just seems to be this fear amongst many thinking players at these micros to play a bit of real poker. I have argued this in previous posts about short stacking, as a strategy too. Now, if you are happy with a high 3bet (with the intention of getting your opponent to fold) strategy, (and I am CONVINCED you want them to fold, despite what you might argue) and you are winning, than that is fine by me. But I don't believe this playing type will be able to go above 200nl without getting completely slaughtered. And unless you wanna be a multi tabling or shstacking robot, that's where any pro or semi pro ambition has to be at. The hard truth is, you need to learn to play post flop, and building big pots pre against random opponents is not, therefore, where its at.


  1. I blame HEM, and to a lesser extent PT3, for this. For some unknown reason, many people are obsessing over their red-line (won without showdown) stat and are all too quick to try and push people out of pots.

  2. I notice a lot of higher stakes players dropping down and thinking they can run over the micro players with liberal 3 betting and squeezing. Some don't seem to credit micro players with any post flop skills. They are usually playing several tables so I'm hoping there is some scope for exploiting these guys.