Like I said in part 1 of this series, a quick way to increase your win-rate is to improve your c-betting strategy in 3-bet pots.
Last time you learned about c-betting in position (IP) as the 3-bettor on two different types of flops (coordinated and uncoordinated). Today you’ll learn about c-betting out of position (OOP) as the 3-bettor on the same two types of flops.
Let’s get to it.
C-Betting OOP as the Preflop 3-Bettor
Let’s take a look at two examples in which the player on the button raised, you 3-bet from the small blind, and the button called.
And again, we will use the 3-betting ranges from the Upswing Lab‘s preflop chart viewer.
The Coordinated Flop
You’re playing 100NL online with 100BB effective stacks. The button raises to $2.50 and you 3-bet from the SB to $9. Everyone else folds and the button calls.
The flop comes J♠ T♠ 7♥ with $19.50 in the pot.
Your range going into the flop is 22+, A2s+, K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, AJo+, KQo, visualized here:
Your opponent’s range going into the flop is 99-22, AQs-A9s, A5s-A4s, K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T8s+, 97s+, 87s, 76s, 65s, AQo-AJo, KQo, visualized here:
And here is the PIOSolver solution for you on this J♠ T♠ 7♥ flop:
Here’s a cursory summary of the solver’s strategy:
- C-bet 46% of the time, check 54% of the time.
- 3 different bet sizes are used at least 10% of the time (100%, 66%, and 33% pot-sized bets).
- Strong value hands (AJ+) are bet at a high frequency, except for sets, which check ~66% of the time.
- Most straight draws are high-frequency bets.
- Low-frequency bets include small pairs (55-22), Axs (the ones with a backdoor flush draw), and marginal pairs (T9, T8, 99, 88, 87, 76).
As you can see, this is a significantly more complex and defensive strategy than the solver’s in position strategy from part 1. Implementing such a strategy in-game would be very difficult and probably more trouble than its worth.
Since we aren’t going to implement it, let’s figure out why the solver plays this way so we can improve our understanding of this spot. Like last time, we’ll do this by asking a series of questions about how these ranges stack up against each other.
Question 1. Who has the equity advantage?
Your equity in the small blind is 51.5%. This is close enough to 50% to call this board neutral, so there must be another factor driving the solver’s strategy.
Question 2. Who has the nut advantage?
Next, let’s find who’s range has more super-strong hands. Below is each player’s nut composition:
Your range is comprised of 7.7% super-strong hands compared to 6.5% for your opponent. So, you have a slight advantage, but nothing that really tips the scale.
Question 3. Who has more strong draws?
Like last time, now we need look at how many strong draws are in each player’s range.
You can see a small edge in favor of your opponent (19% to your 16.3%), but again, not a huge difference.
Since this is a neutral board, we can infer that it’s your opponent’s positional advantage driving the solver’s solution. When you 3-bet out of position and the flop hits both players fairly equally, you need to play a more defensive style.
Now, because no human could pull off the complex mixed strategy suggested by PioSolver, we need to “humanize” the strategy. Here’s how to do that:
Step 1: Choose hands that can comfortably bet three streets for value on most runouts.
Step 2: Select bluffs, which will be draws and/or backdoor draws in this case.
Let’s do each step now.
Step 1: On such a wet board, I think it’s safe to use AJ+ for value, but you should check with a few combinations of strong hands to deter the button from betting when you check. Which strong hands? The best candidates are A♠Ax and K♠Kx (because the backdoor flush draw makes them less vulnerable) and top set at some frequency.
Step 2: For bluffs, I would use all unpaired flush draws and some straight draws. I would bet the offsuit straight draws that have a backdoor flush draw, while checking all others for balance. (The ones with a backdoor flush draw are better c-bets since they improve on more cards on the turn.) I would also bet A♥8♥ and A♥9♥ so I will still have some bluffs in my range when the turn completes every other draw (like on the K♠).
This is what that range looks like:
Using this strategy results in losing 2% of the pot compared to the solver’s complex mixed strategy. That’s a small price to pay considering this strategy is significantly easier to implement.
The Uncoordinated Flop
You’re back at 100NL with 100BB effective stacks. The button raises to $2.50 and you 3-bet from the small blind to $9. Everyone else folds and the button calls.
There’s $19.50 in the pot and the flop is A♣ 9♦ 5♠.
Here is how PIOSolver approaches this spot:
On this dry flop, the solver c-bets 69% of the time, mostly for a 33% pot-sized bet. Every hand is a high frequency bet except for KK and KQo.
We’ll only need to ask the first question — who has the equity advantage — to figure out why the solver plays so aggressively here.
At around 58% equity, you have a huge range advantage on this type of flop. It only makes sense, then, that you should apply a lot of pressure on your opponent since she will have a bunch of hands that will be auto-folds (such as KQo, QJs, etc.).
Since the EV loss is a mere 0.2% of the pot, I recommend simplifying this strategy by c-betting 100% of the time for 33% of the pot.
We’ve touched on a few key concepts that are the driving force behind GTO solutions. Understanding and applying them in-game will help guide your decisions toward the highest EV lines and away from costly mistakes.
That’s all for today! As usual, leave any questions or feedback in the comments below.
If you aren’t done reading about c-betting, check out our complete guide to tournament c-betting next.
Good luck, grinders!
(NOTE: Do you like this solver-based approach to learning poker strategy? Gain access to 25 hours of solver-based strategy videos and more when you get the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!)