Texas Holdem – defending versus 3bets

There will be many times when you look to open raise from position to maybe steal the blinds in either six max or full-ring no-limit Texas Hold em cash games and you get three bet. If these three bets are infrequent then you can put them down to what they are which is basically a re-raise by a stronger hand. However many really aggressive players become too active from the button or cut-off when they get anything remotely decent. Position is an advantage in poker as is aggression but it does need to be used wisely. If it has been folded around to the cut-off who open raises then you do not have the green light to three bet with anything.

Your opponent could easily have a hand as could the two blinds to your left. Many players who understand the importance of position and aggression end up overusing it and turn into what is called a “dumb LAG” which is basically a derogatory term for a player who uses aggressive tactics but not in the right way or in a way that isn’t the least bit sophisticated.

The point of this article is to discuss when aggressive LAG’s three bet you from the button if you are in the cut-off or maybe the cut-off if you are in the hijack seat. You will know when someone is aggressive by the frequency in which they re-raise you. There are numerous lines of play here that you can take but I first need to point out that I am referring to times when you are raising slightly lighter than usual on a steal. The easy line and the most straight forward line with the least complications is to simply fold.

If your hand is weak then it will likely not be able to stand a three bet and so folding is a pretty solid if rather passive line of play. Another passive line which is also solid is not to open as often. If you fold more of your weaker hands then your opponent cannot three bet you at all! However I think that it is better to find yourself another game where players to your left are not abusing you like this than to take passive lines where you are not really exploiting your positional advantages in the way that you should.

There are more aggressive options open to you though and one such option is to four bet pre-flop. This then poses a very serious question to the aggressor. Also you could look to call and then check-raise the flop. This takes your opponent deeper into the hand though and something that you may not want to do when you do not have position. This is a very dangerous line even though a pre-flop call and a flop check-raise will induce an awful lot of folds. The point is that the risk reward ratio isn’t good and when the stacks are deep then this line of play can get you into a world of trouble.