How to handle aggressive 3 bettors in no limit hold’em

Aggressive poker bettors

There will be times where your raises are getting re-raised either by opponents who have position on you or by one of the blinds. If you are raising from the cut-off or the hijack then obviously your ranges are going to be wider than usual. This is the same from these two positions and the button if you get three bet by either the small blind or the big blind. These are annoying events because most of the time your range will be wide enough so that your holding does not hold up or look good against a three bet.

Four main options

However your aggressive opponents will have a good idea what your ranges are and many will three bet you liberally. This used to really bother me earlier in my career for two reasons. Firstly I hated higher variance play and secondly I also hated being put onto the defensive by someone when I had a relatively weak hand. One of my strategies that I employed at that time was simply to either tighten up my raising ranges or to leave the table. While either of these options are viable, this doesn’t alter the fact that aggressive play on behalf of your opponents is exploitable.

Poker is all about achieving balance and so if someone is too aggressive then they are exploitable. But a really aggressive strategy can pay dividends when opponents fail to exploit it or fail to exploit it soon enough. At the end of the day really aggressive play is the polarised equivalent of really tight play and while both can be profitable in the right circumstances, both are exploitable as well. You can see though that my strategies that I employed earlier in my career are simply avoiding the issue. Both leaving the table and tightening your opening ranges basically allow the aggressor to win in a sort of warped way. By folding more then you allow them free reign to attack their blinds or to preserve a greater percentage of their blind money if they are in those seats.

Play some poker with them

However these days I will call three bets more and look to play some post flop poker with these players. I now look at really aggressive players as helping to contribute towards escalated pots and the process of them escalating the pot means that they are halfway towards providing me with “dead money” post flop if I can move them from the hand at some stage. You can still control the pot size even in a raised pot situation but in order to make this strategy profitable then you have to be prepared to go deeper into the hand more often in escalated pots with some very shaky holdings.

This increases the variance but then again so does four betting which is clearly another option. But four betting is something that I prefer not to do as players simply play better poker pre-flop these days. My favourite way to handle really aggressive three bettors is to call and this is especially the case if I have position on them.