Three betting in position in no limit hold’em poker
There is a large tendency these days to want to three bet when you are in position with playable hands. Let us have a look at an example here to show you what I mean. It has been folded around to the hijack who opens for $3 in a NL100 game. You see Jc-Jd on the button and now you have to decide what to do. I do not believe that three betting is automatic here even though your hand is clearly good enough to three bet. You will need to three bet to at least $9 and possibly more. However if you fold out your opponents then your profit is just $4.50 less the rake.
Three betting is beginning to escalate the pot and this can be dangerous. But one of your primary reasons for calling is to balance your play here but when you do call then you are giving yourself opportunities to make money in other ways. When you three bet pre-flop then you can win the pot immediately and that is a big plus. You can also win the pot in other ways as well and three betting allows you to possibly win a bigger pot post flop than you would have otherwise won.
However your risk is also far greater when you play this way but there are advantages to calling as well. Firstly calling is deceptive and tells your opponent little about the strength of your hand. Most opponents will c-bet the flop and on boards like 10-9-4 or Q-9-5 then you have an easy call. This is based on your opponent c-betting a large percentage of their range on the flop. So in this instance then you are controlling the pot which is not a bad thing and especially when you are multi-tabling.
On your good days then you will hit flops likes J-10-2 and your opponent is aggressive enough to fire several barrels. So calling and three betting pre-flop are both viable lines as long as you are aware of how you are trying to make your money in the hand. When you are calling and the flop comes A-K-9 and your opponent c-bets then you can mix in a combination of calls and folds into your lines. If the pot is say $7.50 and your opponent bets $4 then you can call this easier than if they had bet the pot of $7.50.
A $4 bet puts $11.50 into the and a $4 call is getting nearly 3/1 on your money. This means that you only need to catch your opponent with a weaker hand one time in four for your play to break even. If they bet $7.50 then this cuts your odds to 2/1 which isn’t quite so clear cut. In the first instance then if you call and your opponent checks the turn then you can check it back and see the river. If your opponent has something like K-4 then they may fear that you have an ace and check the river and so you may lose no more money and get to see the river card for free with a chance to hit your jack.