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Vikram Singh

The problem with big stack 3bets

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Here's a scenario:

You are on the button with KJo. It's blind level 1k and you have a healthy 65bb stack approaching the last 100 left in a midstakes normal speed tournament.

The players left to act behind you are passive and you are certain they won't play back at you more than 10% of the times.

MP opens to 2.5x the big blind (BB hence forth), it folds to you and you auto-pilot a 3bet with 'blockers'. You think no further than that.

The original raiser is sort of mediocre and has 50BB left behind.

What do you think he does with the following set of hands?
22-TT, AT, AJ, KQ, QJ and their suited combos.

We are going to put him on strictly that range. It's a villain dependent spot but most of the time Villain will flat that range and a very good player might even 4bet semi-bluff you.

The problem is simple - you will get flatted a lot and most of the times will not achieve the desired outcome - to make the Villain fold because you reduce the number of combos of really good hands and sometimes flat us with dominated hands like QJ for example.

The reason for the problem - your effective stack sizes. You are both relatively deep, you are expected to semi-bluff or bluff the BTN and even if your villain doesn't know any of that, he'll most likely chuck in 2.5 to 3bb more just to see a flop.

You end up in an awkward spot. You might flop the best hand and have position but you are likely to end up in a situation where you cannot play the best hand because there is no good way of playing it.

There is no rule book when it comes to lines you should take in any spot.

Poker is a thinking game so why take a line for the sake of it? When you will be perceived as bluff-y, then why bluff?

What could change in this hand that will make it a totally different scenario for both you and the villain?

Imagine now, the same scenario but this time you have 30BB. Now when you 3bet an opener with KJo who covers you, what you do think he will do with AT, AJ, KQ, QJ? 22-66?

You have limited his options. He can't 4 ball or flat you with AJ. 22-66 just became far less valuable because of implied odds.

Your raise suddenly looks stronger. He will have a hard time calling with those hands because your range will be assumed as tighter. After all, no one messes with the big stack.

See, that is the 2nd problem.

You are supposed to make the villain think you are tighter when you bluff and then even if he calls, he will be weary of your range but that's not the main issue, the reason for thinking before taking an action is to make your opponents feel the tough spots and improve your Fold Equity and steal options from the opponent. Steal his ability to realize equity as calling is less viable and most of all - make him fold more often, defend sub-optimally and play 'passive aggressively'. Calling a 3bet is aggressive but it is passive-aggression, when the best way to play a hand is taking the initiative with aggression.
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