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Being Three Bet by Aggressive Players

Let’s face it, we all know how important aggression is in poker. But years ago I used to remark how easy it was to be aggressive and that anyone could do it. If I told a novice player to empty the clip every time he entered a pot then his violent aggression would force an awful lot of folds.

In fact during sessions where his opponents ran badly or they were more passive than usual then this sort of blind aggression can be very successful in the short term. Getting raised from a steal seat by a deep stacked blind aggressive player from the button when you are in the cut-off or the blinds when you are on the button or in the cut-off is annoying!

You will notice what types of players these are by the frequency in which they three bet you. Blind aggression can really only be effective against players whose ranges tighten too much against chronic three betting. But you have five possible lines of play when you get three bet like this.

1. FOLD

Folding is never a bad option, and if you have a marginal hand that cannot stand being three bet, then folding is probably the optimal play. Also folding may be the optimal play if this is the first time you have seen a player three bet you. However, we are dealing with blind aggressive players here so that really isn’t an option. Folding still isn’t a bad play though, but it can get exploited at higher levels.

2. FOUR BET

If you don’t have position, then four betting is risky as you could either get called by a player with position or five bet. However we are talking about an initial adjustment here so a player shouldn’t five bet you if this is the first time you have four bet them. However this does not hold true with sophisticated players who will recognise that you were preparing to four bet them and five bet accordingly. It may be better to know your opponent before you sit with them than adjust after getting three bet several times and then four betting them.

3. REDUCING OPENING RANGE

This is precisely one of the options that your opponent wants, that and bullying you if you call the three bet by making you fold and losing even greater amounts of money. If you are reducing your range to less than what it would normally be from certain positions, then your blind LAG has scored a psychological victory. This is basically admitting that you cannot handle them and is akin to option number one. There is no shame in leaving the table and finding a softer seat. If you cannot handle a blind LAG when you have position when they three bet constantly from the blinds, then you have a problem when an opponent can bully you constantly even when you have position.

4. CALLING IN POSITION

I like to call blind LAG’s from position in deep stacked situations with hands that have decent post flop equity. Hands like suited connectors also fit the bill here, but you simply cannot let a blind LAG bully you like this and you need to play back when you have position by calling and then looking to outplay them post flop.

5. CALLING THEN CHECK-RAISING FLOP

This option is aggressive as it strives to take the initiative away from the blind LAG. I tend to do this with hands that have equity in situations where I open raise and then get three bet by a player with position. I don’t like this option as it is highly dangerous, playing a hugely escalated pot out of position is always very risky in poker. However you are better off doing this than meekly always surrendering.

What you have to factor in though is in not making the mistake of choosing a certain line of play to counter a specific LAG and abusing the play in such a way as to make it easy for your opponent to identify what you are doing and then readjust against your adjustment. It is clear that blind LAG’s present many players with some of the greatest difficulties that they face as poker players.

This is one of the player types that often frequent levels at NL100 and NL200. These types have proved successful at NL50 with their aggressive play and are now trying their hand at NL100 and NL200. Players higher than NL200 tend to be more sophisticated with their aggression which then becomes the hallmark of an accomplished player.

Carl "The Dean" Sampson can be seen at his blog http://www.pokersharkpool.com and 888poker

Carl Sampson

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