A 3 bet is the act of re-raising an initial raiser before the flop.
It’s called a 3-bet because the big blind is the 1st bet, a raise is the 2nd bet, and a re-raise is the 3rd bet. Although it is sometimes a bluff, the 3-bet is usually the sign of a very strong hand.
THE BASICS OF 3 BETTING
3 betting is used primarily when you have a premium hand, and you raise your opponent for value attempting to get as much money in the pot while you have the likely best hand. It can also act as protection for your hand from lesser hands getting lucky on the flop by sticking around.
3 betting can also be used as a bluff. Because the play itself is so powerful and represents immense strength, it can be very tough for an opponent to play against.
It is important that you 3-bet with not only your premium hands, but also as bluffs sometimes as well.
“In limit, you are shooting at a target. In no-limit, the target comes alive and shoots back at you.”
WHEN TO 3 BET
For value: When you have a premium hand, it is often best to simply 3-bet it for value. It is hard to get dealt QQ or better, so maximize these opportunities by getting more money in with a 3-bet.
As a bluff: When your stack size is 30 big blinds or more, you have a good stack to 3-bet as a bluff. Use the 3-bet bluff as a tool against looser opponents, and also when you have a fairly tight image. Remember to not over use this bluff, as it will dilute it’s overall effectiveness. Stay balanced.
It is also important to note that when 3-betting, you will usually want to continue bet on most flops, especially when you are bluffing.
FINER POINTS OF 3 BETTING
Bet sizing for 3-bets: You’ll want to raise about 2.5x over your opponents raise, unless you have less than 20 big blinds in which case you will simply shove all in. This means that if your opponent raises to 1,000 chips, you should 3-bet to a total of roughly 2,500.
Pre flop aggression is powerful. Knowing what these re-raises represent gives you the power to not only guard against it, but utilize it in your own game.