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Flop 3-Bet Bluff

by Andrew Brokos |  Published: Nov 17, '12


Edit: Wow somehow this was up for more than three days without anyone asking what my hand was? Sorry I forgot to include it, as I hinted in some of my responses to comments, it was kind of relevant. I had AJo, so two blockers to some hands I thought he might continue with and a good chance of having at least one overcard if my raise got called. I wouldn’t have done this with 98s.

I’m playing a $1/$3/$6 game at a casino. The game as a whole plays loose and passive, and the better players are mostly tight and passive. Pretty much they play like giant nits and that’s enough to win because their big hands get paid off. I’m not real popular there because I raise a lot and bet the flop when I have nothing.

Last night there was a young guy there, early 20s, whom I’d never seen before. He’d run up a stack of about $3000 by nitting it up and winning big pots when he made huge hands. I’d run up a similar stack by playing loose and aggressive on early streets and winning big pots when I made huge hands. In the last two hours I’d won two very large pots without showdown, so although I’d had the goods both times, people may have been a bit suspicious. Despite that, I expected this kid to be pretty gunshy about risking such a big stack, so I was actively looking for a spot to put a lot of pressure on him.

He straddled UTG (first time I’d seen him do that and in retrospect perhaps a sign that he wasn’t quite as nitty was I was assuming). A player in middle position called $12, the button called $12, and I made it $80 from the small blind. The kid looked at his cards with an air of “well I’m going to be playing this” and said, “Call,” kinda defiantly. Middle position folded, and the button tossed another $68 in without too much thought.

The flop came T44 rainbow. Given what I thought of the kid’s pre-flop calling range, I didn’t expect him to give up to one bet, but this looked like a good spot to put some extra pressure on him. I’d seen him 3-bet KK preflop before, and I expected he would raise that or AA here as well rather than risk uncomfortable post-flop spots against me. I don’t know about JJ or QQ, but I was thinking I could make him squirm even if he had a hand that strong, so TT or 44 were about the only hands I thought he’d be truly comfortable with.

I bet $125, the kid quickly made it $250, and the button folded. I don’t know about him specifically, but in this game people’s general tendency against me is to slowplay really big hands when I have the betting lead because they think I’m a crazy bluffer. Between that and the fact that I expected a 3-bet from KK+, I thought his raise was much more likely to be for information/protection/cheap showdown with a smaller pocket pair than for value with a hand he was ready to take to the felt.

So I made it $700, and he snap shoved over the top. Oh well. Still a pretty good use of leverage, though, as I put him to a $3000 decision for $700. Even my hand was good for it, since it gave me a blocker to AA and the A and mayyyyybe even the J could be outs for me if he called. Given what I knew about him, I think this was a hand that belonged in my 3-betting range.


Andrew Brokos is a professional poker player, writer, and teacher. He is also an avid hiker and traveler and a passionate advocate for urban public education. You can find dozens of his poker strategy articles at and more information about group seminars and one-on-one coaching at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


5 years ago

id say he had tt for sure or maybe kk if he was bad and wanted to make sure an ace didnt flop before playing for stacks thinkn youd get it in with ak ,or was trapping with kk..aa woulda 3 bet pre prayn u had at borgata btw...have a beer at scorpian bar for me! love that place