3 Bet Poker: How to Re-Raise Before the Flop

The best poker players are aggressive because aggression can lead to large pots. To be a great poker player, you must be willing to make large pots by 3-betting. Chances are you don’t 3 bet enough.

What is a 3 bet?

3 bet

The term 3 bet often refers to the first raise before the flop. However, it can also refer to the first raise after the flop. Subsequent raises can be referred to as a 4-bet or 5-bet, respectively.

Let’s say that another player raises preflop. You have the choice to call, fold or re-raise. If you decide to re-raise, this action is called a 3-bet and you will be the 3-bettor in that hand.

A well-thought-out, aggressive preflop 3-betting strategy can help you win crucial 3-bet pots.

In this article, you will learn how to create an effective 3-bet range.

Why should you 3 bet more often in poker games?

3 bet

1. It makes it more difficult for your opponent to make decisions

Many players begin 3-betting with only the best hands. These are QQ+ or AK or JJ. This strategy is too conservative.

If you only 3-bet on JJ, you become an easy opponent. Other players will confidently fold any of your 3-bets against you, which can prevent you from extracting value from your monster hand.

Including non-premium hands in your 3-betting range makes you unpredictable.

2. You could isolate weak players through 3-betting

If a weak player raises, you can force the players behind to fold. It forces the weak player, who may not have had much experience, to make a decision that they are unlikely to be prepared for.

If the opener doesn’t have a premium hand, they will be going up a creek with no paddle.

3. It lowers the average number of players in the pot

Your equity decreases as more players join the pot. A 3-bet can usually force players to leave before the flop, increasing the chances that you will win.

4. It gives you a chance to grab the pot preflop

You don’t have a chance of winning the pot if you call an open raise. 3-betting works.

Your 3-betting strategy will be useless if you don’t know what to do after your 3-bet is called.

Types of 3 bet ranges

There are two ways to build a 3-betting range:

  • Premium hands, strong hands, and hands with great playability are typically found in merged ranges.
  • Polarized ranges are usually made up of premium hands and bluffs

When is it appropriate to merge your 3-bet ranges?

These are some situations that warrant a merged 3-bet range:

  • The open raiser is going to give you trouble once you reach post-flop.
  • You are not in a favorable position for calling ranges, such as the small blind.
  • The open raiser is a calling station.

Let’s suppose Doug, a strong player, opens to 2.5BB from the middle position, and you are in the cutoff. To avoid problematic post-flop situations with weak hands against him, you decide to use a merged 3 betting strategy.

If you 3-bet with only strong and playable hands, you will be able to take down pots more often, and Doug will have a tough time pushing you around.

If you are using a merged 3-betting strategy in position, raising to about 3 times the open-raise can be a good idea. If you are out of position, raise to a size around 3-4 times the open-raise.

When is it appropriate to polarize your 3-bet betting range?

A polarized 3-betting range includes the hands at the top or bottom of our continuing range. Here are common situations that warrant a polarized 3-betting range:

  • The open raiser folds more than half of the time.
  • There are a lot of hands that work better as calls than 3-bets.

Imagine you are in a big blind position, facing a button open raise with 3BB. With your pot odds of winning 4.5BB, you can profitably call with a wide range of middling hands.

By 3-bet bluffing, we attack the dead money in a pot with hands that are just outside the calling range. These hands also help to balance our value 3-bets.

Your range will become more polarized, so it is logical to increase your size. In practice, a polarized 3-betting strategy should be used with a slightly larger size than the one you would use when merged.

When to call for adjustments

3 bet

Be open to changing your 3-betting strategy depending on the tendencies of your opponents. These are the situations that call for adjustments:

1. Your opponent folds often

Mix in more 3-bet-bluffs with weaker hands to beat a player who folds to 3-bets often. A player who folds less often to 3-bets should be able to add value hands and cut some bluffs.

2. Your opponent has strong post-flop skills

You can exploit weak openings by 3-betting bluffing and/or c-betting the flip at a high frequency. You should also reduce your 3-bet bluffing with players who have strong post-flop skills.

3. You are about to get squeezed

Before you decide how to respond to an open raise, remember to look at the players to your left. Click To Tweet

You should narrow your calling range if you are likely to get squeezed.

3-bet vs. a weak regular

  • 200NL 6-Max. $200 Effective Stacks.
  • The player in the big blind has 6 4.
  • Folds to cutoff.
  • Cutoff raises to $5.

The cutoff player is a weak regular you have played with before. His stats show that he open-raises at a regular frequency, but folds to 3-bets with a slightly higher frequency. Against this opponent, it’s best to play tight and wait for strong hands to maximize your value.

6 4 fits perfectly into our polarized 3-bet range. Given the possibility that they will fold, you can comfortably 3-bet to $20.

It doesn’t matter if the cutoff calls. There is still a chance that you will win the pot.

3-bet vs. a loose opener

  • 200NL 6-Max. $200 Effective Stacks.
  • The hero is in the cutoff position with A Q.
  • The UTG raises to $6; 2 folds.

UTG raises almost every hand.

Range charts show that you can either 3-bet with A Q or call against a UTG open at 6-max. The clear choice in this instance is to 3-bet value.

Consider the possible outcomes of a 3-bet:

  • UTG folds, and you win the $9 pot.
  • UTG calls, and you have a position against a weak range.
  • You face a 4-bet from UTG and can profitably call.

If you have a strong hand such as A Q, none of these are bad situations. You either win the pot or you get to play a big hand against a loose player.

3-bet vs. an open late position

  • 500NL 6-Max. $500 Effective Stacks.
  • Hero is on the button with J 8 
  • Cutoff raises to $12.50

You have a wide range of value here, as positions like AJs, JTs, and TTs are great value 3-bets from loose positions.

To balance this range, you need to 3-bet a lot of bluffs.

A two-gapper suit like J8 is a great option because it can give you good value on the flop if there are other high cards.


If you want to be a great poker player, you shouldn’t be afraid of big pots in cash games. Click To Tweet

You must be willing to create large pots by 3-betting. So, try a 3 bet now and 3 bet more often!