late position poker battles

3 Late Position Battles Analyzed by a Cash Game Expert

Hey guys! In this article, we are going to take a close look at 3 hands in which we 3-bet on the button against a cutoff open.

Upswing Lab coach Fried “mynameiskarl” Meulders played these hands at 500NL Zoom on PokerStars (a game he crushes). Then, he analyzed each one for his last Lab video series, which covered how to play 3-bet pots in position

Don’t Know Fried Meulders?

He’s a professional poker player from Belgium who looks like this:

…and whose partial graph looks like this:

Needless to say, you’re in good hands.

Let’s dive into the first hand and Fried’s analysis.

Hand 1: You don’t always need a hand, sometimes you just need a big heart.

The hand starts off with Fried 3-betting K♣ T♣ against a cutoff raise. He says that this is a mixed strategy 3-bet for him. In other words, he will not 3-bet with this hand every time against the open — sometimes he’ll call. Let’s go to the flop.

flop Qs 8d 3c late position battle

Q♠ 8♦ 3♣ is a great board to c-bet for 33% pot with our entire range. Most of the cutoff’s hands have either missed this flop completely (AJ, KJs, etc.) or aren’t too happy (99, 77, etc.), and he has very few draws (just JTs, T9s).

Given the composition of our range (mostly bluffs) and the dry texture, a small bet is the most efficient way to force folds from his weak hands without sacrificing much value with our strong hands. Even after using this small size, we’ll still be able to get our stack in by the river with hands like AA.

Fried fires a $26 bet and the cutoff calls. Time for a turn card.

turn 5h late position battle

Many players would give up after not turning a draw, but Fried had this to say:

On these types of brick turns, we will be forced to barrel with some air-bally hands in order to have enough bluffs in our range.

In other words, since this turn doesn’t connect with many hands, we’ll need to get creative when choosing our bluffs. Since K♣ T♣ is at the bottom of our range, it makes for a great barrel candidate. We could also bluff this spot with A2s, A4s, 76s, J9s, and KJs (if these hands are in our 3-bet range).

So, Fried proceeds to make a pretty big bet of $92 (72% pot).

He chooses this bigger sizing because he will be barreling with a polarized range that is made up of strong top pairs or better for value and roughly the same amount of bluffs to balance the range out.

The cutoff calls and the river is dealt.

river Jh late position battle

Despite not improving, Fried should continue bluffing here. This is the worst hand in his range and he doesn’t have any showdown value. Whenever you find yourself with this type of hand, you should opt to bluff — it’s tough to go wrong barreling with the bottom of your range.

Since his value range (KK+) will want to shove, he will use the same size with the bluffs. Fried shoves for $360 and is met with a welcome fold by the cutoff.

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Hand 2: C-betting isn’t mandatory.

The second hand begins with another cutoff raise and another 3-bet by Fried, this time with A♣ 5♣. The cutoff calls and the flop is dealt.

Qd 10d 8d flop

A simplified 33% pot bet with our whole range will not yield the best result on this board. This board is significantly more connected than the previous one with many more draws possible. We need to be more strict with our criteria for good c-betting hands.

Our hand is extremely weak, with no immediate draw (only a weak backdoor straight draw), one overcard — which is dominated by several hands (AQ, AJ, AT, A9, A8) in our opponent’s range — and very few profitable turn bluffing opportunities, namely J♥, J♣, and J♠.

This hand just doesn’t cut it. We need a hand that has at least backdoor straight draws, backdoor flush draws, and an overcard. A hand that fits these criteria is A♠ 5♠.

Fried checks back and the turn pairs his ace.

Ad turn

The cutoff checks again.

Although we have a top pair now, it’s not strong enough to value bet with on this board. Fried thinks the weakest top pair that we should delay c-bet with is AJ since a lot of hands from the cutoff’s range have improved substantially: AQ, ATs, A8s, KJs, and a few suited connectors that had a flush draw on the flop. These are hands that the CO player might elect to check-raise with, trying to win Fried’s whole stack. Since his hand doesn’t want to play for such a big pot, checking again is probably the best option.

He checks back and the river comes:

6c river

The cutoff checks for a third time, which significantly weakens his range. Our hand is now definitely strong enough to value bet since we beat a lot of potential calling hands from his range such as KQ, QJs, Q9s, KTs, JTs, and T9s.

For our bluffing range here, we can use hands such as 54s, 75s which we checked back twice.

Hand 3: The devil is in the details.

With the same preflop action the previous hands, Fried is now holding A♦ 4♦ and the flop is dealt.

10s 9d 3d flop

We can use a simplified strategy of c-betting 33% pot with any hand that has direct outs (flush draws, straight draws, or overcards). This is a solid strategy, though it’s not as good of a small-bet-spot as the Q83 rainbow board.

However, solvers recommend using a mixed strategy with varied bet sizes on these dynamic boards. A lot of hands in the cutoffs range have notable equity (QJs, KJs, KQo, 87s etc.) and using a bigger bet size some of the time will worsen his pot odds. This is a tougher strategy to execute and it only adds a bit of profitability so, unless you are experienced with solvers, I recommend using the simplified 33% pot c-betting strategy on this flop.

Since Fried is a solver-genius and his hand is strong enough to c-bet, he went for a bigger bet size of $42 (50% pot).

The cutoff now decides to check-raise to $165. With such a strong draw, we clearly can’t fold. Thus the following question arises: Should we 3-bet shove or just call?

To answer this question, we need to think about Villain’s check-raising range. It’s likely made up of hands such as TT, 99, and T9s for value and K♦ Q♦, K♦ J♦, Q♦ J♦, 8♦ 7♦ and 7♦ 6♦ for likely bluffs. That being said, the cutoff’s range might be significantly different, with more or fewer bluffs and value hands.

Given our assumptions here, the correct answer is to 3-bet shove with A♦ 4♦. If we had A♦ J♦ or A♦ Q♦, however, it would be better to just call the raise.

Pop quiz: Why does it make more sense to shove A♦ 4♦, but call A♦ J♦/A♦ Q♦?

Show answer

Because when we shove with A♦ 4♦, we:

  • Will have some fold equity
  • Will get called by some draws
  • Have a ton of equity even when we get called and are behind.

However, if we hold A♦ Q♦ or A♦ J♦, calling the raise is better because:

  • We block a bunch of the combo draws, making it more likely the cutoff has a made hand.
  • These hands still have 2 overcards, which may be good in case the cutoff was raising with top pair
  • These hands can improve to combo draws on the turn.

In other words, A♦ Q♦ and A♦ J♦ hands have a lot more turn playability, allowing them to more confidently call and take a turn.

Watch Fried Overview His Video Series on 3-Bet Pots

Fried’s 3-Bet Pots In Position series has already become a favorite among Upswing Lab members — and for good reason! This series is incredibly in-depth and valuable, as you’ll see from Fried’s outline in the video below.

Join Fried in the Lab now if you want to improve your results in crucial 3-bet pots and more!

That’s all for this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful! If you have any questions or feedback, just let me know in the comment section down below and I will do my best to answer you there.

Till’ next time, go get’em good!

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Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games.

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