You’re about to learn how professional poker players approach 4-betting. You’ll find the answers to these key questions in this article:
- Why do we 4-bet?
- With which hands should we 4-bet?
- What 4-bet size should we use?
- How should we adjust our 4-bet sizes in tournaments?
The answers are actually quite simple and you can start applying the following advice in the very next session you play.
Stick around until the end to grab your exclusive coupon code for $50 off Nick Petrangelo’s advanced tournament course, which expires in a few days.
What is a 4-Bet?
A 4-bet is the second re-raise in a betting round, usually seen preflop. For example, suppose you raise preflop and a player behind you re-raises (aka 3-bets). If the action gets back to you and you re-raise again, that’s a 4-bet.
While postflop 4-bets are possible, this article focuses exclusively on preflop 4-betting.
Why Do We 4-Bet?
We 4-bet because we want to build the pot when we have a super premium hand, such as QQ+ and AK. Sometimes we will 4-bet with a relatively weak hand with the goal of making our opponent fold, but our entire 4-bet range should be built around the super premium hands.
Hypothetically, if we were never dealt the super premium hands preflop, we would in theory never 4-bet because we’d have nothing to build our 4-bet range around.
With Which Hands Should We 4-Bet?
We obviously can’t only 4-bet premium hands. If we did that, our opponents would have an easy decision versus our 4-bets.
We want to make our opponents’ decisions hard and put most of their hands in a gray area between continuing or folding. There are two things we do to accomplish this:
1. Add bluffs to our 4-betting range.
The best 4-bet bluffing hands are suited Ax and Kx hands that can not profitably call the 3-bet. They have the best blockers to our opponent’s continuing range.
2. 4-bet to an amount that puts our opponent in a tough spot.
Our 4-bet size should put the 3-bettor in a marginal spot with most of his hands, forcing him to call with a decent portion of his 3-betting range. If we use too large or too small of a size, our opponent will have an easy decision with most of his hands.
What 4-Bet Size Should We Use?
The answer to this question depends on whether we are in position or out of position.
Position matters because it impacts how our opponents will realize their equity. They will realize equity well when playing in position and poorly when playing out of position.
We will want to use bigger sizes when 4-betting out of position in order to mitigate some of their positional advantages.
Now, let’s dive into specifics, starting with when we’re in position.
In Position 4-Bet Sizing
For this example, we will use a small blind 3-betting range against a button raise since this is the most frequent spot. The ranges will be based on a 2.5 big blind open-raise and a 9 big blind 3-bet.
Note: If larger open-raise/3-bet sizes are common in your games, make sure you play tighter than the ranges that follow.
A good player’s small blind 3-bet range will look something like this:
Here is what a balanced 4-betting range could look like for the Button:
This range includes:
- JJ+ and AK for value.
- A5s-A2s and K8s-K6s as a bluff.
Check out how the small blind’s range fares against the button’s 4-betting range:
We can see that most of small blind’s range has around 35-40% raw equity. He will be able to realize roughly 80% of that equity given that he is out of position. So, most of his hands will realize around 28-32% equity.
(If you’re not familiar with the concept of equity realization, read this article to learn about it. It’s a very important concept to understand if you want to play poker at a high level!)
The button’s goal is to use a 4-bet size that targets these hands by making the correct decision with them close between calling and folding. If the button chooses the right size, the small blind’s decision will be marginal either way.
The bet size that hammers his range most is somewhere around 2.3x to 2.6x his 3-bet size.
If you want to know how this size was calculated, click below for the math.
Now let’s take a look at when we are out of position.
Out of Position 4-Bet Sizing
We will again use the most common spot for our example, which is when the cutoff raises (to 2.5 big blinds) against a button 3-bet (to 9 big blinds).
This is what a good player’s button 3-betting range in this spot might look like:
Since the preflop 3-betting range is tighter, compared to the in position example, the open-raiser can not 4-bet as many hands for value. As a result, the 4-bet bluffing range should also be narrower.
Here is what the cutoff’s 4-betting range might look like:
This range includes:
- QQ+ and AK for value (no longer includes JJ).
- A5s-A2s as a bluff (no longer includes K8s-K6s)
Again, let’s take a look at how the 4-bettor’s range matches up against the 3-bettor’s range:
We can see that most of the 3-bettor’s range has around 35-40% raw equity, the same as before. The big difference, here, is that he will realize slightly more of this equity than before, say roughly 85% of it (30-35% realized equity). It doesn’t go much higher than before because the 4-bettor’s range is tighter.
The bet size that hammers his range most is somewhere around 2.75x to 3x his 3-bet size. If you want to see the math behind this size, click below.
How Should We Adjust These Sizes in Tournaments?
Full disclosure: I never play tournaments. But you know who does? Upswing’s head tournament coach Nick Petrangelo.
Nick’s tournament course comes with his Preflop Mastersheet, which contains 260+ charts that cover almost every preflop situation you can imagine at 6 different stack depths.
Here’s a screenshot from the Vs 3bet sheet in his course:
The 4-bet size he recommends is circled at the bottom: 2.6-2.8x when out of position and 2.2x when in position. Note that the Mastersheet sizes and ranges assume there are antes.
Nick recommends using these sizes when deep (~60BB or more).
Once your stack approaches 50BB, his preferred 4-bet size is all-in in most spots. That said, in some situations he does recommend using a narrow-range non-all-in 4-bet strategy, in tandem with a wider 4-bet all-in strategy. For instance, let’s click and examine his Middle Position vs Hijack 3-bet chart at 50BB:
Nick recommends 4-betting non-all-in with AKs every time in this spot, along with AA-TT, A5s, and KQo at a mixed frequency. In the same spot, he prefers 4-bet shoving AKo and A4s every time, along with KK-TT, A5s, and A3s at a mixed frequency.
At 30BB, the only 4-bet size Nick uses is all-in.
You can own Nick’s Preflop Mastersheet and 30 hours of his coaching footage by getting his course: Winning Poker Tournaments with Nick Petrangelo. Save $50 by using the coupon code 4BETTING at checkout. Learn more now!
Final Thoughts on 4-Betting
To sum up, you want to 4-bet to around 2.5x the 3-bettors raise when you are in position and around 3x his raise when you are out of position. In tournaments, size down to around 2.2x when in position and 2.7x when out of position.
These 4-bet sizes will put your opponents in a tough spot and allow you to profit whether they over-defend, under-defend, or even play optimally.
As usual, if you have any comments or feedback don’t hesitate to use the comment section below.
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