How To 3-Bet With Blockers

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Very few things are more fun in poker than light 3betting.  Re-raising someone while holding nothing but total junk can make your play more enjoyable, but also more profitable if you pick your spots correctly.  One way to make these bluff re-raises even more profitable is to 3-bet with blockers.  I constantly use blockers when bluffing preflop and they offer a two-fold benefit…first is more folds and second is backup equity in the event my opponent doesn’t fold.  This video teaches you everything you need to know when running this play preflop…or if you are the reading type you can read the script down below.  Enjoy!

(Turn the video to 720p and sub for more videos)

Hello, and welcome to today’s Quick Plays video on bluff 3betting with blockers preflop. Bluff 3betting well is a great way to make money with junky starting hands. But not all starting hands are created equal, which is where blockers can come into play. In this video we’ll define blockers and look at an example highlighting the real value of using them when light 3betting.

First, what is a blocker? A blocker is a card that limits the number of combos of certain hands. For instance, if we have the 8♣, we block out combinations of pocket eights from 6 down to 3. We also block out some combinations of suited connectors since 9♣8♣ and 8♣7♣ are no longer possible. We can use the concept of blockers postflop as well, but in this video we will solely focus on using them preflop.

Let’s look at a hand and see how blockers can increase the value of a bluff 3bet…

In this hand MP open-raises to $3, it folds to us, and we 3bet from the button to $9. For a moment let’s ignore our hole cards and focus solely on villain’s ranges. This kind of poker practice is very beneficial and is something you should be doing on your own from time to time…

blocker 3bet

As always, our decisions in poker are based upon ranges. What range did villain open with and what range would he continue with against our 3bet? For simplicity’s sake let’s assume MP open-raised with 22+/AT+/KJ+/87s+. Let’s also assume that if we 3bet he will only continue, either by calling or 4betting, with TT+/AQ+. It’s OK if you disagree with either of these ranges…just take the framework from this video and then plug in your own ranges later.

Because we are being analytical, let’s break these ranges into combos. If you don’t know what combos are, check out out Quick Plays video on Preflop Combos. His opening range is 190 combos and his continuing range is 62 combos. That means we expect him to fold 67% of the time.

Now let’s take our hole cards into consideration. We hold A♦5♦ which of course is going to block out hands in both his opening and continuing ranges. The 5♦ blocks out combos of 55 in his opening range, and the A♦ blocks out combos of hands like AQ from both his opening and continuing ranges.

We can then recalculate everything now that we know our hole cards. Since we have A5 his opening range is reduced down to 168 combos and his continuing range is reduced down to 51 combos. Notice that both ranges lost combos just because of our hole cards. Now we can actually expect him to fold 70% of the time.

3bet blocker charts

You be looking at this and thinking to youself “really? I did all that extra math and it’s just a 3% difference? What’s the point!?” Well if we do just a little extra math I’ll show you.

Let’s just look at the outright profitability of this 3bet. It would be too complex to run a full EV considering postflop, shoving if he 4bets, etc…so we’ll just focus on the outright EV of this 3bet…meaning when he folds we win and if he calls we lose. This is over-simplified…but it gets us started…

Without our hole cards the EV would equal +5 cents

($4.5 * .67) – ($9 * .33) = 3.02 – 2.97 = +5 cents

With our hole cards the EV would equal +45 cents

($4.5 * .70) – ($9 * .30) = 3.15 – 2.70 = +45 cents

Not sure where this formula came from? Learn how to do simple poker EV math

So with our hole cards we’ve increased the outright EV of our play 9x, which is great. And while 45 cents isn’t a ton of money, this is actually a very common spot. So overtime the extra wins will stack and we’ll be making much more money by using blockers.

There are 3 big benefits of using blockers when 3betting preflop.

    • It reduces the chances that our opponent will give us action like we showed this example.
    • When villain calls our 3bet we will have decent equity going postflop. Against the TT+/AQ+ range our A5s has 31% equity. Whereas if we 3bet here with 98o we’d only have 27% equity and with QTo our equity drops down to 26% equity. Villain won’t fold against our 3bet 100% of the time so having backup equity and options is always important.
    • We’ll have blocker hands a decent chunk of the time. If we look at bluffy hands with blockers like K2-K9 and A2-A9, we will be dealt those hands about 19% of the time.

blocker hands

 

I personally prefer using Ax and Kx blockers since they block out the most standard continuing hands like AA, KK, and AK. That’s not to say that a Qx hand can’t be useful, but it doesn’t block out as many combos preflop nor offer as much equity going postflop typically.

These kinds of three bet spots are everywhere. And it’s not to say that you want to 3bet every single time you have a blocker in your hand. Look for spots where the 3bet is +EV and by using a blocker you make it even more +EV. Similarly, there are plenty of spots where you can make a +EV 3bet and you don’t even need a blocker. But this video gives you the proper framework for proofing the value of your own 3bets and also the understanding of blockers and how they influence the overall EV!

Same as always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know. Otherwise, good luck and happy grinding!

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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