One of the quickest, and easiest improvements you can make to your poker game (and also one of the most important because it happens so often) is playing well in 3 bet hands.
Today, we're going to look at a hand that comes up ALL. THE. TIME. Hands that we see a lot of are important to play well, for obvious reasons.
What's our bet size?
We're playing $1/2 with effective stacks of $200
We are UTG with [Ac][Kd]
We raise to $5. SB 3-bets us to $9. We call.
Flop ($20): [Ah][6c][Td]
SB bets $19. We call.
Turn ($58): [Jd]
Let's analyze all the streets, shall wel?
Pre: We could easily have 4-bet our AKo, and that fits well into any 4-betting range, but it's also not a mistake to just call in this spot. Most players have a very tight 3-bet range from the blinds when playing the rest of the hand out of position, so our call preflop makes more sense than a 4-bet.
Flop: This is a no-brainer. We're crushing the SB's range, and SB will be continuing a wide variety of his hands which were strong enough to 3-bet preflop. We also have any of the aces (execpt two) in his range crushed.
Turn: This is where the hand starts getting more interesting. When villian checks, it becomes very likely he's holding what is now a medium strength hand like [Kx][Kx], [Qx][Qx]and some hands like [Ax]s, [Ax][Kx]and [Ax][Qx]. It's unlikely he's going to check his [Ax][Ax], [Jx][Jx]and [Qx][Kx]hands but instead he's more likely to play the hand more typcially and go for full value on such a good board.
So, what do we do after his check?
It's poker. We have options. There are always options.
Go for a small bet on the turn and river. This works well against his [Kx][Kx], [Qx][Qx], [Ax]s range. He'll be in a tough spot and his hand will be too strong to consistently find a fold.
Medium bet on the flop, and shove river. This play works less well against the last range we looked at, but plays very well against his [Ax][Qx] and [Ax][Kx] hands by putting them in a very tough spot against our river shove.
Bet large with a polarized range (2 pair+ and bluffs) and check back AK. This has the potential to lose some value unless the SB is capable of slowplaying some monster hands, and you decide that your hand is not strong enough for a value bet. This would require a solid read on the SB to make it profitable over time.
So, of the three ways we can play our hand on the river, the first two are going to be the best long term winning plays. When we consider that most players are either tight or loose, I think option one is the best, and betting about a third of pot on the turn and half pot on the river will reap the biggest rewards.
Finding an optimal play in 3-bet pots can be done, and if played properly can put your opponents in very hard spots, with some very good hands.