3-Betting Ranges – Hand selection

3-betting ranges: polarized ranges and merged ranges
The 3-bet preflop has become a standard feature in no-limit hold’em poker in recent years. The art, the 3-bet with the right hands for each situation to perform, it is in today’s article.

No-Limit Hold’em real money games have changed fundamentally in recent years, especially online. If solid ‘tight-aggressive’ poker was enough to play a few years ago, this is usually not enough today. Especially the 6-max games have become extremely aggressive and the players better than ever. In this environment, the 3-bet preflop is one of the most frequently used moves.

Reasons for the 3-bet preflop
Whenever you bet on a 3-bet, you should also know why you want to make that 3-bet. There are really only two reasons for this:

o you want to get value
o you’re bluffing

Your value 3 bet range and your bluff 3 bet range should not be constant. Depending on factors such as your position or how your opponents play, you’ll need to make the necessary adjustments. For example, if you have no position, then you should have a larger value range for your 3-bets.

Furthermore, it is very important that you adjust your range to the respective range of your opponent. A button raise can be hit from the big blind with a much larger value 3 bet range than a UTG raise.

Polarized range
A polarized range is referred to as consisting of value-hands and bluff-hands. If you have position in hand, you should make his 3-bet range more polarized

Merged Range
From a merged 3-betting range one speaks, if this consists mainly of value hands. If you bet a 3-bet from the blinds, so you have no position in the hand, then you should make his 3-bet range preferably merged.

Criteria for selecting the value range
The following three questions you should ask yourself when choosing hands for your Value 3 Bet range:

o Which hands fold my opponent?
o With which hands does my opponent call?
o With which hands does my opponent bet on a 4-bet?

Your goal must be to ‘create’ situations in which you have an equity advantage. If your opponent folds AQ, then a 3-bet with AK would be a waste of your good equity. If your opponent calls with hands like AT or A5s, then a 3-bet with AJo can be very profitable. If your opponent often counters with 4-bets, then a 3-bet with KQ would be disastrous (you would have to give up the good hand against the 4-bet), but maybe 55 would be profitable (you can start a 5-bet-shove with very good equity).

Criteria for selecting the Bluff 3 Bet range
First, you should always think about which hands your opponent opens, whether this opponent has already developed a special dynamic and, in fact, the most important point with which hands your opponent will play back. The range with which your opponent will play back is of more importance than the actual range with which he opens. You need to figure out how many times your opponent folds on 3-bets to decide if a bluff will be profitable or not.

Your Bluff 3 Bet range should be made up of hands that are just not good enough to make a profitable call, such as hands like 68s, A8o or K7s. Of course, this varies from situation to situation and from opponent to opponent. Hands like QJs are often good enough to justify a call, and you should not waste those hands on a 3-bet.

Another important point is once again your position. Your Bluff 3 Bet range should generally be much larger in position than in position. In position, your 3-bet range is then mostly polarized. It consists of bluff hands and value hands.

You should also make the selection of your bluff hands dependent on your position. Since you can control the size of the pot relatively easily in position, it is no problem to 3-bet hands like A8o. Without position, you can easily get into trouble with such problem hands as you regularly run into better kickers and your opponent has control over the pot size.

Merged Ranges and Polarized Ranges
Against opponents who play back at a high frequency, you should keep your bluff range rather low, but you can expand your value range for something. So you are playing with a merged range. This will very often be the case if you have no position

Against fish, which are very bad players who preflop many of your 3-bets with relatively weak hands, you can do without a bluff range and expand your value-3 bet range quite a bit (both in position and without Position). You play with a merged range and can include hands like AT or QJ (hands that have very good equity against the calling range of the fish). Your 3-bet has the added benefit of isolating the bad player and playing pot heads-up with him.

Against opponents who fold too much, you make your range very polarized. This usually happens automatically when you are in position.

Example 1 – opponent fish
A bad player opens in the cut-off with a raise. You are on the button.

Note: Bad players call 3-bets with a wide range of weak hands. Against these opponents, your 3-betting range should only consist of value hands.

Your 3-bet Range: 88+, AT +, KT +, QT +

Example 2 – Opponent TAG (good tight-aggressive player)
A DAY opens with a raise in the cut-off. You are on the button.

Note: TAGs fold relatively often on 3-bets without position. If they play back without position, then mostly with a 4-bet. These opponents can be 3-bet with a wide range – but the range should be very polarized.

Your 3-betting range: Value Range: QQ +, AK Bluff Range: 57s, 68s, 79s, K9s, K8s, K7s, K6s, K5s, A9o, A8o, ….

Proper use of polarized ranges and merged ranges is essential in regular use of 3-bets. With which range you 3-betest depends mainly on your respective opponents and you must try to analyze their play style as exactly as possible, in order to get the maximum advantage.

Moves of a poker professional

In our section “Professional moves” you will find many strategies that are intended for the advanced player. These are very often “moves” that many poker players would not do on their own. Most of the moves are not intuitive for the amateur or hobby player, but still have the highest (or very high) expectation after detailed analysis.

In some moves the “problem” is predominantly psychological: Since they feel “wrong”, one often has inhibitions about using the tactic as well. Here is often the best solution to take some time off the poker table and objectively analyze the action and calculate. The most profitable “moves” often hide where you would not intuitively guess.

The following tactics and strategies are subdivided into preflop moves and post-flop moves. Before you include a turn into your strategy, of course you should understand it too. In addition it is inevitable, theoretically also to deal with it and if necessary also to make your own calculations. It’s best to go slow and not add new moves to your arsenal until you can safely and profitably implement any included moves.


A good preflop game will save you many problems postflop. Especially since the no-limit hold’em games are played very aggressively preflop, we are also focusing on the preflop 3-bet.

Preflop – Blind Stealing

Stealing blinds with a very wide range is among the most profitable tactics in the small-stakes and mid-stakes no-limit hold’em games.

Preflop – Blind Stealing: The Right Defense

Even in the blinds it is important to find adequate defensive strategies against players who open with a very wide range from late position – so you regularly steal the basic bet. Otherwise, the small lost missions quickly add up to a sizeable loss.

Postflop – play with preflop aggression

Aggression is one of the keys to successful poker.

Postflop – game without preflop aggression

Even if you should have the initiative in your hand as often as possible – that is, the aggressor – it is of course always the case that you call preflop only an increase – that is passive play. So you have postflop (initially) the passive role.

The (light) 3-bet in no-limit hold’em

Today I introduce you to one of the most profitable tactics in small-stakes no-limit hold’em games: the 3-bet or the light 3-bet preflop.

If you start with no-limit hold’em poker, then the first correct tactic that causes a massive increase in your win rate is usually the continuation bet. Today it’s all about the (light) 3-Bet, a slightly more advanced tactic that can have as much impact on your bottom line as the continuation bet. Used in the right games and against the right opponents, the ‘light 3-bet’ preflop is extremely profitable.

What is 3-Betting preflop?

3-Betting is quick and easy to explain: A player opens the pot preflop with a raise and a subsequent player adds another raise.

I admit, the name 3-bet may be confusing. Raise plus further increase could also be called a 2-bet. However, the basic use of the big-blind is already regarded as a bet and thus results in the designation 3-bet.

As you can imagine, a 3-bet is a move that shows a lot of strength. One would think that behind them are mostly excellent hands like AK or QQ +. This was still the case until a few years ago. Today, however, the so-called ‘light 3-bet’ is very common.

What is a ‘light 3-bet’?

A ‘light 3-bet’ is called when the preflop re-raise is not executed with a premium hand, but, e.g. with a hand like 68s or K7s, so with hands that are relatively weak. It sounds like a very risky move, but in the right games and against the right opponents it is a very profitable tactic.

Basically, there are two categories of good poker players when it comes to the ‘light 3-bet’. One group tends to avoid the ‘light 3-bet’. Players of this type expect to be superior to their teammates, especially in single-raised pots with a high stack-to-pot ratio. The other group uses the ‘light 3-bet’ intensified and happy to. Players of this type try to build up an aggressive image in order to get paid with their good hands.

Why a ‘light 3-bet’ at all?

Good tight-aggressive players dominate the positional game in poker usually excellent. That is, they open relatively few hands in early positions, so they play relatively tight, but in late positions they have a very wide opening range. This wide opening range is of course vulnerable.

A player opens with a wide range (mostly from a late position) and you call. A call can be profitable here in many situations (especially in position). On the other hand, the ‘light 3-bet’ is even more profitable here. With the Re-Raise you take the command and the initiative in your hand. You also benefit from the preflop fold equity, as your opponent usually does not hold a very good hand. You win the pot before the flop.

o fold equity
o initiative
o Reduction of the stack-to-pot ratio

Another advantage, especially if you have no position, is the reduction of the stack-to-pot ratio.

When should you do a ‘light 3-bet’?

If the ‘light 3-bet’ used to be very profitable up to the higher games, you should use it today mainly in the small-stakes games. There your opponents are not so good at making the right adjustments in their game. In the higher games meanwhile the vast majority of players are familiar with this tactic and know suitable counter tactics.

The ideal type of player you should attack is the tight player who relinquishes his hand too easily after your re-raise. Of course, the player should have a relatively wide opening range to be vulnerable. You benefit from fold equity and decide the pot preflop for you.

Position is also an important criterion. In position, you should bet much more often a 3-bet than without position. Should you be called, then you have the position advantage, you can act with an information advantage and determine the size of the played pot relatively well. This is very difficult for you without a position.

What should you do with a ‘light 3-bet’?

Here you should basically between a ‘merged’ range and a polarized range. Above all, a ‘merged’ range consists of very good and good hands, so it is a pure value range. A polarized range consists of very good and rather bad hands, e.g. 68s or K5s. You should choose here hands that can catch a good flop or bring enough equity. K5s would be a good equity hand if called. Without position, you should be careful with high-card hands, as you are often dominated by a better kicker in an opponent’s call and have no chance to control the size of the pot. Without position, hands like 68s are usually the better alternative.

If you do not have a position, then you should mainly use a merged range. Only when your opponent begins to attack your 3-bets with 4-bets, then you can switch to a polarized range.

In position, you can usually choose a polarized range immediately. Most regs avoid calling a 3-bet with no position, but counter with a 4-bet. Here it would be a waste with good hands, but no premium hands to attach a 3-bet. For a 4-bet of your opponent you would have to give up the good hand. A call is often the better alternative here.

If you play against very bad players who preflop too many 3-bets preflop, then you should also put your 3-bets into position, especially with a ‘merged’ range. A hand like AJo is not a very good choice for a re-raise against a reg. However, you dominate many of his calling hands (KJ, QJ, AT, …) against a fish.


The ‘light 3-bet’ is one of the most profitable tactics in No Limit Hold’em small-stakes real money games. Used against the right types of players and with a suitable range, the ‘light 3-bet’ can more than double your win rate.