Join A Poker Community Of 200,000+ Users!

Big Blind: Three-Bet With Strong Suited Hands

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Jan 11, 2023

Print-icon
 

Jonathan Little If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out Jonathan Little’s elite training site at PokerCoaching.com/CardPlayer.

Assuming you are striving to play GTO (Game Theory Optimal) strategy, when someone raises before the action gets to you and everyone folds around to you in the big blind, you should be three-betting (re-raising) with your best hands and your strong suited hands.

Because you are closing the action and getting excellent pot odds, you are less incentivized to three-bet in general, resulting in you three-betting mostly with your best hands that flop well, while calling with a decently wide range.

However, many players make the mistake of only three-betting with their absolute best hands from the big blind, perhaps 9-9+, A-J+, and K-Q. While you should usually three-bet with your premium hands, you must also ensure to include an adequate amount of intelligent “bluffs” or lesser value hands so you are not easy to play against.

For example, when 100 big blinds deep facing a cutoff raise from the big blind, when there is a rake and no ante in play (which will usually be the case in cash games), you should three-bet with 10-10+, A-9 suited+, A-Q offsuit+, K-10 suited+, Q-10 suited+, and J-10 suited+ most of the time while mixing in a smattering of thin value hands/bluffs such as A-4 suited, K-Q offsuit, K-5 suited, J-9 suited, 8-7 suited, and 5-4 suited.

While you still have a few weak hands in your three-betting range, most of your non-premium three-bets come from reasonably strong suited hands, as you can see in the chart.

But let’s change the scenario from a cash game to a tournament with an ante. Now with 80 big blinds facing a raise from the cutoff, you should play a wider, slightly different range due to there being more money in the pot.

Now you can three bet most of the time with 9-9+, A-J suited+, A-Q offsuit+, K-Q suited, J-9 suited+, 10-7 suited+, 9-8 suited, and 8-7 suited while mixing in additional bluffs including some low A-X suited and K-X suited, some marginal suited gappers, and offsuit hands with an ace or king blocker, such as A-4 offsuit and K-9 offsuit.

Getting even better pot odds than in the previous example, you should call far wider. As your calling range gets extremely wide, you should ensure it is protected by calling with some of your strong hands. Now many of your bluffs come mostly from the medium suited connectors.

Notice in both of these situations, suited connectors are in your three-bet bluffing range most of the time. This pattern will hold true when you have 50 big blinds or more. As you get shallower stacked, your bluffs will come from A-X offsuit, K-X offsuit, and Q-X offsuit because they block your opponent’s logical four-bet all-in range.

While you should usually ensure that you have bluffs in your three-betting ranges, if your opponents are extreme calling stations, as some players are, you should remove the weaker bluffs from your range and include more value hands that dominate your opponent’s calling range.

For example, in a tournament with an ante with 80 big blinds facing a raise from a calling station in the cutoff, you may want to adjust to three-betting with 8-8+, A-10 suited+, A-J offsuit+, K-J suited+, K-Q offsuit, Q-J suited+, and J-10 suited. While this strategy will leave your calling range a little weak, that is fine because you will be maximally exploiting your opponent in large pots when they call your three-bet (which your read indicates will be most of the time).

That said, if you do not know what your opponent does incorrectly, you should usually strive to play as close to the GTO strategy as possible, which will ensure you naturally exploit whatever your opponent is doing incorrectly. ♠

Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament earnings, best-selling author of 15 educational poker books, and 2019 GPI Poker Personality of the Year. If you want to increase your poker skills and learn to crush the games, check out his training site at PokerCoaching.com/cardplayer.