As you move up in stakes one of the first things you’re going to notice is that players 3-bet and 4-bet way more often than on the lower levels. Limping is virtually eliminated – if you want to play a hand and no-one opened before you, raise it up.
When your pre-flop raise gets 3-bet at higher stakes, it’s usually a lot bigger re-raise in proportion to your initial open than on the lower levels – recreational players often make the mistake of re-raising too light giving their opponents good enough pot odds to continue with their entire range. Your pre-flop re-raise should be around pot size always, so you have enough fold equity to have bluffs in your range.
Since pre-flop 3-bets and 4-bets are getting bigger and more frequent, you have to really think about what to continue with. Often calling is the only wrong option – counterintuitively, there are hands that are not good enough to call but are good enough to 4-bet. That is because you need the extra fold equity to make them +EV to play, their sheer equity against your opponent’s 3-bet range is usually not good enough. These hands are typically off-suit Ace hands such as AQ, AJ and AT off – having the Ace in your hand is important since it cuts down on the value hand combinations in your opponent’s range.
Please note that you don’t need to 4-bet those hands every time – that would be way too loose. The point is if you want to see a flop with them, 4-bet them rather than just flat. When deciding whether to re-raise or fold there are a number of factors you have to take into consideration:
- Which position did you open from?
You should play tighter from early positions, players at higher stakes tend to know that so they’re going to 3-bet you less often with a stronger range.
- How loose is your opponent?
If you play online use HUD and look at their VPIP and PFR. Evidently, you should be 4-betting lighter against more aggressive opponents. If you play live, you need to pay attention to their pre-flop betting frequencies.
- What is your table image?
Assuming a lot of players online use HUD at higher stakes, this pertains to live poker more. If you’ve been card dead for a while and couldn’t play many hands, you should be more inclined to 4-bet with those mid-strength hands as a bluff since the other players may have tagged you as a nit with a very strong 4-bet range and will be folding more often.
What’s really important is: don’t be like a low-stakes bad reg and only 4-bet Aces and ings so your opponents know exactly what you when you do 4-bet.