Facing 3-Bets Preflop & Out of Position – Expert Tips by Fedor Holz
Last Updated: November 5, 2023
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Many players find it difficult to deal with 3-bets when out of position. Obviously, the biggest downside of these situations is the positional disadvantage, and that’s the biggest thing making people uncomfortable playing 3-bet pots OOP.
This positional disadvantage somewhat negates the direct pot odds we’re getting, and we are incentivized more to end the hand before the flop, if possible.
Realizing our equity out of position becomes more difficult, which serves as an incentive to try and play with a lower stack-to-pot ratio (SPR). In that vein, two very simple pieces of advice for these scenarios would be:
- Fold more often
- 4-bet more frequently to end the hand and/or lower the SPR
Now, let’s look at a couple of examples that should help better explain the advantages of this approach.
Playing 100 BBs Deep: MP vs. HJ
If you check out the graph below, you’ll notice that our folding range is fairly big. Some hands that you’ll want to get rid of (and that may not be immediately obvious) are smaller suited aces. You’ll struggle to realize your equity with these hands out of position.
Our 4-betting range includes more hands than when we are in position, too. Pairs like TT+ and hands like AQs become great 4-bet candidates in these spots. As always, we’ll mix in some other hands, too, like A5s, to balance our ranges and don’t become predictable.
It’s interesting to note that some hands may have lower raw equity but are more likely to realize that equity. Deciding how likely we are to realize our equity is an important factor to consider when deciding whether to call or fold a specific poker hand.
If we move things around a bit and look at the same scenario but later positions (BTN vs. CO), the principle remains the same. We’ll play wider ranges but still, fold quite a bit of equity.
Short Stack Adjustments
Let’s now look at the same scenario (MP vs. HJ), but with effective stacks being just 30 big blinds. How does this change our strategy when facing a 3-bet?
The biggest difference is that we won’t have any 4-bets that aren’t all-ins. We’ll be shoving, calling, or folding and won’t have any alternative 4-bet sizes.
The logic here is quite linear. We’ll shove with strong hands like 88+ and AQ+. We still need to have a decent calling range as well, as you can see on the above graph.
Of course, your exact ranges will depend on the opponent’s sizing. If they use a smaller sizing, you can expand to add more starting hands, especially to your calling range. Since you’re getting much better odds, you’ll have the opportunity to realize more of your raw equity.