Saturday, January 02, 2010

The problem with 4-bet shoving preflop

If you're up against an opponent who 3-bets too frequently preflop, it stands to reason that you could profitably 4-bet shove against him because a large portion of his range would be forced to fold.

I don't know exactly how high an opponent's 3-bet percentage needs to be to make a 4-bet shove profitable, but math and PokerStove indicate to me that it's somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent, according to a couple of scenarios I wrote out. I think it's fairly safe to say that you can 4-bet shove profitably against someone who's 3-betting more than 20 percent of their hands preflop over the long run. CTS also mentions the possibility of 4-bet shoving in his famous 3-bet post.

For a week or two, I tried 4-bet shoving against opponents who reraised too often. I put my 4-bet shoving range around 88+ and AQ+. My relatively small sample showed negative results.

There are a few problems with 4-bet shoving in shorthanded NL cash games:

_ If you 4-bet shove all the time instead of making smaller 4-bets, you can't ever 4-bet bluff. 4-bet shoving limits your range and your options. jcl touches on this point in his excellent CardRunners series, "Making the Jump."

_ It only really works when you're out of position. A 4-bet in position narrows your range too much, especially if you ever want to be able to call a 3-bet. However, out of position 4-bets may be more reasonable than in position 4-bets because you should pretty much never be calling a 3-bet out of position. It's a raise or fold situation.

4-bet shoving has its place, especially in some players' heads-up strategies. But it's applications are limited in shorthanded and full ring games, and it detracts from a well-rounded overall strategy.

Resolutions '10

I need to find a way to play as well as I used to. I don't know how to do this except to do it. It starts with becoming more disciplined and making better decisions. I learned a lot last year, and now I need to plug the leaks that seem to have kept pace with my improvements.

I'll stop making hero calls. I'd better have a damn good reason for calling down multiple streets besides the thought that I simply don't believe my opponents. Too often, I lose money when an opponent's line doesn't make sense. I should realize that these days, strange betting lines are far more likely to be the nuts than air.

I'll quit playing the first time I curse at the computer. I'll keep playing when I'm on my game.

Those are my resolutions for 2010, and I plan to stick to them every day of the year.

Good luck this year!