The Three Bet

When you play poker, you’ll hear “3-bet” or “three-bet.” Placing the third bet, or technically the second “raise,” during a round of poker is called a “3-bet”. The term is only prevalent recently, indicating its popularity during online play.

Technically, the preflop 3-bet for flop games such as Omaha and hold’em differs from the post-flop three-bet. These poker games use blinds. Placing the small and large blinds is considered the “first bet.” The next player, starting with the UTG (under the gun) player to the left of the big blind, can call the first bet (the amount in the big blind), fold, or raise. Although the pre-flop raise is technically a “two-bet,” it’s not commonly used. The “three-bet” term refers to when another play raises more than the first raise. Here’s a picture of a preflop 3-bet.

The 3-bet is a post-flop bet consisting of an initial wager, a raise, and a second raise (perhaps by the initial player). The post-flop 3-bet will be larger than the pre-flop one due to the size of the initial bet. In cash games and later tournaments, 3-bets are often all-in moves made by one or more players. However, you will hear the words “pushing” and “jamming” (moving your entire stack to the middle) in these instances.


A 3-bet is a form of an initial raise and is intended to indicate a premium hand. The 3-bet is designed to take out the initial raiser and capture the pot. The 3-bet’s purpose is to tell the initial raiser, “Yeah, you may have a great hand, but I have a better one.” Another variation is when the initial raise comes from late positions, such as the button player or cut-off. In this case, the 3-bet will be made by either the small or large blind. This may happen because the button or cutoff may think they are trying to take the blinds. The 3-bet is a traditional move a player can make to alter a hand. It trails only the all-in push or the check raise. This indicates that the player who makes a move has a firm hand. However, this is poker, and it can happen.


It is best to use 3-bets only when it is most convenient. In the spirit of bluffs, many hyper-aggressive players will 3-bet with various hands. However, most 3-bets are made with large hands.

One of the most challenging lessons players must learn is when to call or 3-bet. Understanding your opponents’ tendencies is crucial to your success. The best poker players are as good at playing their opponents as they are at their own hands. The best 3-bet is against loose players. Some players are called “calling stations” and cannot fold marginal holdings unless prompted. The third type of 3-bet that is successful can be used against players who may underestimate the long-term chances of the game or tourney due to their preoccupation with what might happen in a particular hand. In the hope of winning a better hand, he might have given up a little bit of his chance of winning.

There are also bluffs. A “re-steal” is a type of 3-bet that can be called a bluff. When done correctly, it can be one of the most lucrative moves in a player’s arsenal. It is possible to lose your money quickly by using it too often, just like with any other good play. Over-exerting yourself with 3-bets will cause other players to react. Sooner or later, your opponent will “look up” and call you. If you are a conservative, steady player, 3-betting aggressive foes will work more often than you might think. These players will try to make small, steady gains against your perceived relative passivity. If they don’t win, they’ll usually go after another player.


Understanding your opponent and the situation is key to defending against the 3-bet. A 3-bet against a tight opponent with few hands is invariably a monster. You can discard all hands except the strongest. His natural tendency to bluff should be a warning, even if he is bluffing.

Late-position aggressive players will often triple-bet with holdings like middle pairs or AQ. Depending on your hand, it may be correct to play or even to place the 4-bet and take your chance. With the right “pot odds,” which refers to the relationship between how much cash is in the pot and how much a player stands at winning, a late-position player might be more likely to make his call with inferior hands than you might think.