A single 4-bet pot can make or break a session.
Putting lots of chips in the pot early is not for the faint of heart. When you apply the right strategies, however, you’ll earn your opponents’ respect and win more money.
Today we’ve prepared 5 tips from high stakes pro Ryan Fee that will put you on the winning side more often in 4-bet pots.
Let’s get started.
Ryan Fee contributed to this article
Tip #1: If you are facing a 3-bet and have a premium hand, lean towards 4-betting and not trapping
When you have a strong hand in No Limit Hold’em — post-flop or pre-flop — you generally want to fast-play instead of slow-playing in an attempt to trap your opponents. There are many situations where slow-playing premium hands is correct, but fast-playing builds a bigger pot and allows you to extract more value.
Consequently, when facing a 3-bet with a premium pocket pair you should 4-bet a high percentage of the time. Your absolute best hands will do the most damage when there is a smaller stack-to-pot ratio, which will also help make your decisions on future streets much easier.
By 4-betting you not only get more money in the pot when your hand is way ahead, but you also isolate your opponent.
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Tip #2: 4-bet wider when out of position in order to mitigate your positional disadvantage
Putting in a light 4-bet can be scary, and it takes some getting used to if you haven’t done it much before.
That said, 4-betting wide when out of position will help you overcome this fear and your positional disadvantage because:
- The hand will be easier to play post-flop because the stack-to-pot ratio will be lower
- You will get more comfortable with 4-bet pots by playing more of them
Keep in mind that a wide 4-betting range should contain both value bets and bluffs; failing to include both in your range will leave you exploitable on many runouts in bloated 4-bet pots.
Tip #3: Be ready to 4-bet against tough, aggressive competition
4-betting as a bluff is complex, but in tougher games it will become an integral part of your survival.
The optimal 4-betting strategy depends heavily on your opponents’ tendencies. When facing a 3-bet from a tight opponent who you know is not getting out of line, for instance, you should 4-bet bluff very infrequently.
On the other hand, ramping up your 4-bet frequency against aggressive 3-bettors will put them in tough spots because they simply don’t have enough good hands to continue. You should also look to call more often against these aggressive 3-bettors.
Putting aggressive opponents to the test with 4-bets also may earn you more respect from the table. Your aggressive opponent(s) might think twice before attempting a light 3-bet against you again.
No one likes getting run over. With players now 3-betting more than ever, you have to be ready to fight back by 4-betting. Show them you won’t be pushed around.
Tip #4: Choose your 4-bets carefully, not arbitrarily
One of the biggest mistakes players make when they start 4-bet bluffing is to do so arbitrarily, with random cards, and without much forethought. This is just asking for trouble.
Choose your hands carefully when 4-betting as a bluff; don’t do so arbitrarily or because it feels right in the moment.
Suited aces tend to work very well as 4-bet bluffs, particularly suited wheel aces (A2, A3, A4, A5), which are ideal for 3 reasons:
1. Card removal
Having an ace in your hand lowers the odds that your opponent has two of his most likely premium hands: pocket aces and ace king.
2. Good equity against a calling range
Suited wheel aces will almost always have a at least 35% equity against your opponent’s 4-bet calling range.
3. Solid playability when called
Having the ability to flop straight draws, top pair, and nut flush draws makes it easy for you to continue on a multitude of boards. An added bonus is that your opponent often won’t know to be scared on some boards that smash your hand. (Your opponent will have a hard time putting you on trips when the flop falls 6-2-2.)
Other types of hands that tick off two or more of these boxes, and thus work well as 4-bets, include:
- Suited connectors that are barely not strong enough to call
- Offsuit broadway hands that block multiple premium holdings, such as AJo or KQo
(Be careful with the latter. It’s easy to end up over-bluffing by including too many combos of offsuit hands.)
Choosing your 4-bet bluffs carefully will help you avoid playing bloated pots with trash hands. Plus, you can be more confident that your 4-bet bluffs are close to optimal, no matter the results.
Tip #5: Play really tight against excessively large 3-bets
A good strategy to use against excessively large 3-bets — common in the live poker scene — is to fold all but your very strong hands, and 4-bet only your strongest hands. In case you’ve never faced one of these 3-bets, they usually happen like this:
Live $2/$5. $600 Effective Stacks
Hero is dealt in the HJ
folds to hj. Hero raises to $20. CO 3-bets to $120. 3 folds.
When facing large 3-bets, calling is rarely the best option because of the terrible price to call. (We are getting ~1.5 to 1 against this $120 3-bet and need 40% equity to call.) Moreover, recall that live players tend to only 3-bet their very best hands, which makes calling an even less attractive option.
So, the only way to counter excessively large 3-bets is by 4-betting the absolute top of your range and folding the rest. You’ll usually fold, of course, but when you do 4-bet the stack-to-pot ratio will be low and you will be isolated against your opponent with (probably) the best hand—the perfect situation to get in as much money as possible.
The Main Points
To sum up, making sure that you are playing 4-bet situations correctly is going to be crucial to your success as a poker player. Here are the 5 tips we’ve covered:
- Lean towards 4-betting, not trapping, with your premium hands when facing a 3-bet
- 4-bet with a wider range when out of position because it mitigates your positional disadvantage
- Be ready to 4-bet light against tough competition
- Choose your 4-bet hands carefully based on their equity and blockers
- Play really tight against the over-sized 3-bets commonly seen at live tables
Which of these 5 tips did you find most helpful?
Let us know in the comments below please! See ya.
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Grinding live poker is my day job. I also write about poker and sports.