Preflop Strategy – 4-Betting and All-In

When someone has 3-Bet you should normally first consider raising or folding. Sometimes it can be more profitable to call the 3-Bet, see 3-Betting for more information about circumstances.

With the light 3-Betting that is going on in modern online poker you need a strategy to counter that. The best way to do this is normally to introduce some light 4-betting.

First of all, if someone is 3-Betting you with a wide range of hands, you can add more hands to your 4-Betting for value hands. If someone is 3-Betting you with a 14% range you can 4-Bet with a 7% range since that range will be ahead of your opponents in average.

4-Betting light

I use a similar strategy for 4-Betting light as I do for 3-Betting light. First of all, estimate the percentage of times opponent will fold to a 4-Bet in the particular situtation (calling rarely  happens unless the stacks are deep). Since opponent is almost always shoving or folding you do not need to consider position when 4-Betting.

I will not 4-Bet light if opponent is folding less than 75%. This means that an opponent who shoves with AA, KK and AK needs to be 3-Betting more  than 8 % for me to add any bluffs at all (since AA, KK, AK is 2 % of all hands).

  • Opponent folds to 3-Bet < 75 % – only bet for value
  • Opponent folds to 3-Bet 75% – 80% – add 25 % of bluffs
  • Opponents folds to 3-Bet  80-85 % – add 50 % of bluffs
  • Opponent folds to 3-Bet 85-90% – add 100% bluffs
  • Opponent folds to 3-Bet > 90 % – bluff with any two

When 4-Betting light you do not need to consider the playability of the hand so it won’t matter what hands you include as bluffs – since you will always fold your bluffs to a shove (unless the effective stack size is short).

To keep things simple I use the same hands as when 3-Betting light:

I will add bluffs starting with JTs-54s (2%), then J9s-64s (2%) and then JTo-54o (6%).

Regardless of what hands you choose to add to your light 4-betting I recommend having predefined hands since there is otherwise a risk you start overdoing it when you get excited seeing someone who folds 85% of the time. If you start 4-Betting too much it will soon be noticed by either the player you are attacking or by other players and they can start exploiting this. Occasionally you can of course do it with other hands because of game dynamics, but be careful not to overdo it.

Raise size

The raise size of your 4-Bets should be 2,25 – 2,5 times the size of the 3-Bet AND your target should be that the money you have put in the pot after the 4-bet is about 25%  – 30 % of the effective stack size.

If you 4-Bet to a smaller amount, let’s say 2 times the size of the 3-Bet, opponent will get good odds to call:

Example: You play $0,5 – 1 and raise to 3. Opponent on the button 3-Bets to 9 and you min-raise to 18. The pot is now 28,5 and opponent has 9 to call. This will give odds of over 3:1 on the call which can make calling profitable with most cards (depending your range and tendencies of course).

If you 4-Bet to higher percentage of the effective stack size you will be unable to fold any of the hands you are 4-Betting with. This takes away the opportunity for opponent to shove with weaker hands since he will have no fold equity.

Example: Same as above with effective stack size of 100 big blinds. In this case you decide to raise to 35 instead of 18. If opponent decides to shove you will be getting odds of 2:1 on calling. In this scenario you would be getting correct odds to call with 65s if opponent raises with AA-QQ, AK and AQ – but you would not be happy.


Calling all-ins

When you are considering calling an all-in you mainly consider what your opponents range is and what your pot odds are. Sometimes you also need to consider game dynamics (for example putting people on tilt – or keeping a fish in the game). In tournaments you should also consider your skill advantage and bubble effect (you want to avoid getting broke when there are bubble effects in the play). And of course if there is players left to act – in which case you should normally only call a normal stack all-in with AA, KK and possibly AK and QQ.

Here’s how to decide whether to call an all-in or fold based on opponents range of hands and the pot odds:

Pot odds Part of opponents range you can call with

6:5                  Half their range

3:2                  2/3 of their range

2:1                  Double their range

3:1                 Any two against any range

Please note that this table assumes there is no bubble effects into play – if there is you need to tighten up your calling ranges  (and open up your raising ranges). Bubble effects are always present in Sit and Go’s and become noticeable in MTT’s when you are getting close to the money.

With 6:5 odds you need to win the hand > 45 % to make a call profitable.

With 3:2 odds you need to win the hand > 40 % to make a call profitable.

With 2:1 odds you need to win the hand > 33 % to make a call profitable.

With 3:1 odds you need to win the hand > 25 % to make a call profitable.

Moving all-in

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