I smell a rat (Part 1)

pokeroff 0 1470
I smell a rat (Part 1)

Everyone knows the feeling. When it seems that opponents can see our cards and put pressure on us just when we're right out of ammunition. The question is how to distinguish the effect of variance, in which the game is just not going our way, from a situation where our opponents are really just exploiting our weaknesses.


To understand this, we need some idea of the average over 1000 hands in such situations. Let me talk in more detail about the most common situation - when an opponent 3 bets into us.


So, how often we are 3 bet into depends on two factors.  First of all it depends on whether you have raised from the steal position.  The more often you raise from late, the more often you will be 3 bet. The second factor is how often you surrender to a 3 bet. The more often you fold to a 3 bet, the more likely you will be to be challenged.


If you're struggling to resist the 3 bet, you need to understand whether opponents are re-raising you too liberally because they've seen you give up or whether it's just part of the flow of the game.  To do this, you need to understand average values over 1000 hands, i.e. how often people with a certain steal rate will go on to 3 bet. 


The figures are for nl50 - nl200 such (for those who fold to a three-bet 63-67% of the time).


  • PFR 16% - 21/22 times in 1000 hands:
  • PFR 17% - 23/25
  • PFR 18% - 27/28
  • PFR 19% - 29/30
  • PFR 20% - 31/32
  • PFR 21% - 33/34


Hence, if you fold to a 3bet more than the average player, then you will be 3bet into a little more often. Conversely, if you say PFR 19 and fold to 3bet 60 %, the average figures should be 28/29. So, if most of the opponents under you really tune out, your rate of 3bets per 1000 hands should be 2-3 points above the average. This is the signal to sound the alarm and to begin to resist actively.


What is the easiest way to do this? I recommend the following approach. If you are organized, you can write in the opponent notes "3bets me". If he does it twice, then write "3bets mex2" and we can suspect that your opponent has fixed on us specifically and which means that s/he has to be fought on the basis of the following factors:


1. If you fold to 4b more than 55% of the time then make a 4bet (you can even do this twice)

2. Remember that when you are in position as a rule you can vastly extend your range. The enemy is already aware that post-flop s/he will have to play out of position and will generally either 4bet or fold. Therefore, if an opponent us regularly attacks us out of position, even if their 3bet stats are low ( e.g. 5%), then it is also possible to put in a 4bet (preferably with blockers) if s/he folds to a 4bet at least 50% of the time.


As soon as you start to resist, opponents , in turn, are also trying to readjust. To assess this developing "war" situation properly, remember the "rule of poker dynamics": if the opponent was caught on a bluff, then the next time he is likely to make the same move with a good hand. Simple primer. The opponent 3bets you, you fold a couple of times but the third time you put in a 4bet. If s/he folds, it means he is prepared to 3bet pre-flop but fold to a 4bet. So the next time s/he will be much less inclined to 3bet without a real hand, because s/he will be afraid that you will put in a re-raise, knowing that s/he is able to fold after putting in a 3bet. Or s/he will not want to annoy you again, because then you will resist them, so s/he will have to play outside of their psychological comfort zone, distracted by the war with you (especially if they are multi-tabling), and so on.


So do not rate your opponents too highly, the majority of them look at their cards and play on autopilot. If they were well able to use your weaknesses and put pressure on the weak, why would they be playing at the lower limits ?

Read next article:

I smell a rat (Part 2)