The following article comes from Jerry HerschelW Watterson. Jerry is a long time PTPer and founder of the training site PokerPwnage.com which is now Pocket Fives Training. You can follow Jerry on Twitter at @herschelwpwnage
3 Betting For Value in Live Cash Games
Why do we 3bet preflop in live cash games? Obviously one of the reasons we 3bet preflop in cash games is for value. When we 3bet preflop for value we’re doing it because we believe we have the best hand and we want to be called by worse.
Drawbacks of 3 Betting to Steal
What other reasons would we 3bet preflop in cash games? Most people would say the other primary reason we 3bet preflop is to steal the initial raisers bet and the blinds. I’d argue in full ring live cash games that’s a poor primary reason for raising. If there are no limpers and a player opens to $25 in a 2-5nl cash game there’s $32 in the pot. If we’re 3betting as a bluff to purely win chips preflop we must be successful a little over 2/3rds of the time to be profitable. If stealing here is even profitable it’s likely to be profitable by a pretty small margin. We also risk getting ourselves into some pretty sticky situations along the way.
3 Betting to Look More Active
Aside from 3betting for value the primary reason we should be 3betting is to make ourselves look more active than we actually are playing. Most players in live cash games only 3bet when they have very very good hands (maybe the top 5% or less of their range). Playing a hand vs a straight forward 3bettor may just be the easiest situation in poker. Fold everything but absolute monsters and get max value when you have AA and KK. If we’re able to pick and choose one situation every hour or two where we can 3 bet light as a bluff to loosen up our image; we set ourselves up to get called when we have the very strongest portion of our range and in turn maximize our best opportunity to get our whole stack in ahead.
When choosing your spot to do this, look for a spot where the preflop opener opens a bit too frequently and folds very tightly to 3bets. The perfect targets for this play are pros who are very tight most of the time yet too frequently open from the button, cutoff, and hijack. 3bet them with a hand with reasonable equity vs their calling range like 78s or JTs or the like. Your play will likely be break even or slightly profitable as a pure steal. Your range will surprise them when they do call and you hit the flop. Most importantly you’ll loosen up your 3betting image for later when you want action on your strongest hands.