Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'll keep 3-betting preflop, thank you very much

I'm a big fan of reraising a wide range of hands preflop in position: my suited connectors gain value because they can win the dead money in the pot, and my premium hands are more likely to get called when my opponents know I could have low cards.

Several training sites advocate this kind of preflop strategy, but pro player Samoleus recently repeated his claim that it's inherently flawed.

"If someone raises and you have a hand like King-Jack suited on the button or 87 suited on the button, that's not a reraising hand. That's a hand that plays so much better when you have more of a stack to pot ratio," Samoleus said on the Cash Plays podcast. "The CardRunners style ... I know they teach this rampant aggression and this 3-betting with suited connectors and stuff, which I really think is such a flawed technique. ... The whole philosophy, the approach to this, is completely wrong."

While it's true that speculative hands gain value when they can see flops for cheap, Samoleus failed to explain why cold calling is a better play in this era of poker in which the blinds are likely to run a squeeze play when they see a raiser and a button caller.

Sure, cold calling would work well in passive games with very little 3-betting.

But the reality of today's games is that you're going to get squeezed frequently, and the best way to defend against the squeeze is for you to raise in the first place. Most of the time, a preflop 3-bet with suited connectors will either pick up the blinds or allow you to see a flop in position.

Samoleus sounds like he's upset at how the games have evolved rather than adjusting to them.

Other pros take a more measured, constructive approach.

In the new DeucesCracked series "Parallels," Krantz addresses a similar situation when he holds KQs from the button.

He says that you should call more and 3-bet less with hands like KQs when your opponents fold too frequently to raises.

I can infer several pieces of information from his statement:

1) 3-betting with KQs and similar hands is better when your opponents are more likely to call a raise with lesser hands. KQs has enough value postflop to call a raise rather than attempt to steal. That's probably why Leatherass called from the button with AQs in my recent hand with him.

2) Suited connectors gain value from a 3-bet in games with opponents who are likely to fold to a raise.

3) If there's a caller in the middle, a 3-bet with many different hand types makes more sense because there's more dead money in the pot.

What Samoleus should have said is that he's disenchanted with the mindless 3-betting that occurs so often these days.

He shouldn't have made the sweeping statement that this kind of 3-betting is frequently wrong and bad for the game. There are many situations where a preflop reraise is the best play with hands like KJs and suited connectors, despite how much Samoleus wishes it weren't so.


Wes said...

I do think that rampant aggression preflop discourages action from the average joe playing in a cash game again, which definitely sucks.

Also, I do think that people that play the simplistic style of 22/18 advocated in the majority of coaching videos is really disadvantageous to a lot of players that just mindlessly 3bet preflop without thinking that cold calling and bluff raising later will work out far better. You bring up a good point that when you 3bet that you are discouraging people squeezing though, but I play on pokerstars where the action preflop is far more mellow than I'm sure your full tilt regs are so I don't really have to worry about it so much. But there is a lot to be said that when you play 200bbs+ (like I'm guessing you are) you really discourage this sort of preflop shenanigans when you are in position against people that 3bet an extremely wide range of hands in this scenario by combating it with further aggression on later streets where it is harder for people to 3bet bluff off their stack on the flop (when you inevitably bluff raise their flop bet).

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. If I have 200 behind what should I squeeze on the button with a original raiser with a wide range and 3 callers. Don't think I can flat a $15 raise but if I think the raiser will fold 3 betting is much better right? So with 100bb what do you flat and what do you isolate with. How does 150-200bb change things? Like if I have 300 and the original raiser has like 100-200 I would think picking up the money is better but with 2 callers maybe this would be different?