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Three Betting Light in NL Hold'em

Three betting light is a skill that will help any player effectively balance their range and steal pots. On the other hand, light three bets could also end up costing you a fortune. The key to success with light three bets is the ability to properly identify which situations will be profitable and which will not.

There are a number of players who make light three bets for the sake of making light three bets. Needless to say, this is not the optimal strategy. You need to know who you are trying to push out of the hand, what you are trying to represent, your image at the table, and how you will react to a call or shove.

These are the basic dynamics that need to be understood if you want to make your three bets profitable. Three betting light is a challenge because it requires that players have a fair amount of experience and a natural feel for the game. This is one of the tools that is not so much taught as it is learned. Once you are able to work light three bets into your NL Hold'em game, though, you will be that much more dynamic.

Who You Want to Fold

The players who you want to fold when making a light three bet will often determine whether or not the play is worth attempting. If the two loosest players in the world have made an open raise and call, the odds of you getting them both to fold with a light three bet are far from good. If two moderately tight players did the same exact thing, however, you would be in much better shape.

Don’t get confused, though, as two super tight players would also be indicative of a generally weak spot for a light three bet. You should be three betting light against players who are capable of opening with decent hands, but will also be playing something that is not good enough to call a three bet.

There is no exact science to determining what hands you are up against, so it comes down to being right more often than you are wrong, as is often the case with any play in NL Hold'em.

The Hand You’re Representing

You need to know exactly what you are trying to tell your opponents when you make a light three bet. Do you want them to think you have an absolute monster, a random suited hand, or something completely different? The hand that you are representing will often determine just how much you should be raising.

For example, a monster hand might make a smaller, yet sizable, three bet in order to squeeze some value out of the other players. A suited hand, however, would be more apt to make a big bet so that it has a reasonable shot at forcing folds from stronger pre flop hands.

Now, since a light three bet implies that your hand neither has strong potential or is already made, you should be picking what you want your opponents to think you have. Make a moderate three bet and play it hard on the flop when representing a big pocket pair, or make a big bet and continue on the flop if you think your opponents are a bit scared. Carefully determine what story you are trying to tell and be sure to stick to it.

Your Table Image

If you want your light three bets to work with any bit of regularity, you need to be able to effectively convince your opponents to fold. The other players might perceive you as super tight and they will think that a light three bet is always going to be with a major hand. On the other hand, your opponents could feel that you are a bit too loose and might be making a play more often than not when you three bet.

The table image that you have is much more important than how you actually play. Consider how your opponents think you play and do your best to exploit that image. Don’t try to be something that you are not - instead try to be something that the other players think you are not.

Reacting to Calls or Shoves

If you three bet light with any measure of consistency, you will run into spots where the other players either call or re raise. In these situations it is important that you know what you are supposed to do. If you have a weak hand, but have little money left behind, it might make sense to call a shove anyway.

By contrast, a weak hand with a lot of money behind should denote an easy fold. The truly tricky hands will be when you make a light three bet and get called. You shouldn’t give up on the hand just because you were called. Instead, look for ways to win the pot post flop.

If the board is fit for a continuation bet and you feel that your opponent might be capable of folding, go ahead and try to push them out. You might even get lucky and flop a big hand, even if you had nothing pre flop. Planning ahead is crucial in almost any aspect of poker, and light three bets are no exception.

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