Understanding 3-Bet Ranges

As poker matures and aggression increases, it’s very important that you are understanding 3-bet ranges correctly. Today’s players are using advanced 3 bets more often and applying lots of preflop pressure, so it’s imperative that we can handle their 3bets profitably. In this article, we are going to discuss how to analyze a 3-bet range to help choose the best line when facing a 3bet.

Whenever we do anything in poker we want to first consider our opponent’s overall range. Now, some 3bet ranges are very easy to estimate and others are much more difficult. For instance, take a 12/8 super tight nit with a 3bet of 1.2%. This person is obviously 3betting a much stronger range of hands than a 27/23 LAG with a 3bet of 9.6%.

Types Of 3-Betting Ranges

What does their 3bet % actually tell us about the hands they are 3betting? To understand that we need to understand polarization and some very simple range math. 

Polarized 3bet Ranges

A polarized range is made up of nut and bluff hands. These ranges include the strongest of hands in the upper-left-hand corner of the matrix, and there is a gap between the “other” hands also included.

Depolarized 3bet Ranges

Merged, also known as depolarized, ranges include nuts and the next-strongest hands. You won’t find a gap between the hands in the upper-left-hand corner of the matrix and the “other” hands also included.

Comparing 3bet Ranges

So a polarized range may include hands like QQ/KK/AA/AK and maybe a 54s/A7o/J8s. A depolarized range may include hands like QQ/KK/AA/AK and also JJ/TT/AQ/AJs. Notice the polarized range includes super strong hands and weaker hands, while the depolarized range includes super strong hands and some other strong-side hands as well.

3Bet Range Construction

Now let’s take this concept and compare it to range math and construction. So when we look at our hud and see that a player is 3betting 2.5% of the time, what does that mean? What does a 2.5% 3bet range look like? The tough part is that we will never 100% know.

And as that 3bet % increases, it becomes even more difficult to assess the entire range precisely. But we can understand some basic poker ranges to get us started.

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First, what are the logical strong-side ranges, and what % of hands are they? Well KK/AA (KK+) is .9% of hands. So if a player is 3betting 1% of hands or less, chances are it is incredibly nutted. Another logical strong-side range is QQ+/AK, which is 2.6% of hands. If a player is 3betting TT+/AQ+ that is 4.7% of hands.

Assigning 3bet Ranges

So let’s say we face a 3bet and our opponent has a 3.5% 3bet. We think they will 3bet QQ+/AK as the strong side of their range, which we know is 2.6% of hands. So this means 74% (2.6/3.5) of their 3bet range is very strong, and we can simply estimate how we would perform against the entire 3.5% range.

Or say a player resteals (3bets our steal) 12% of the time and that they would 3bet TT+/AQ+ for value. That means that only 39% of their resteal range is strong. But what is the other 61% of their range here? Is it hands like AXs or 44? Hands like K7o or Q9s? We can’t be 100% sure, but at least having an idea of the strong-side density of their 3bet range gives us a starting point.

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Now we can bring this back to the polarization concept we talked about earlier. Say we think a player is 3betting 6% of hands in this spot and that they would 3bet TT+/AQ+ each time. Well, that means 78% (4.7/6) of their 3bet range is TT+/AQ+, but what is the other 1.3%? If they 3bet a depolarized range it probably includes hands like AJ/KQ/99/JTs sometimes.

Whereas a player who 3bets polarized would probably use some weaker stuff (A4s, 22, 86o, etc.) the other 22% of the time. This may not seem important, but it can influence our outright equity against their range and also the postflop playability if we decide to call the 3bet.

Pie Chart of Range

It should go without saying that you will rarely ever know a player’s exact 3bet range. But if you can visualize their range like a pie chart , it helps you understand the density of strong vs weak hands in their range. If you need a more in-depth explanation or a visual example, check out this video.

In it, I take you step by step, showing the powerful framework for building your opponent’s range in a precise and structured manner. Learn how the range forks, how different hands fall into different buckets, and how to narrow their call vs 3bet range.

Once you’re able to apply this knowledge, your postflop play will become a million times easier while also helping you find extra bluff 3bets preflop.

3Betting Versus Different Player Types

Comprehending and adjusting to different opponent types is crucial, especially when it comes to 3betting strategies.

Against a tight nit, characterized by a conservative playing style and a narrow 3bet range, a savvy player might exploit this by widening their 3betting range. Nits typically 3bet premium hands; a skilled player could leverage this predictability by incorporating more speculative hands into their 3bet arsenal. This adjustment aims to capitalize on the nit’s tendency to fold to aggression, thus scooping pots without facing strong opposition.

3betting Preflop In Poker

Conversely, when facing an aggressive loose player (LAG) with a wider 3bet range, you must make adjustments to counter their relentless preflop pressure. In this scenario, a player might opt for a more conservative 3betting strategy, focusing on a narrow range of hands that can withstand the aggression of a loose opponent. This strategic shift aims to exploit the LAG’s fondness for bluffing, allowing the player to trap them with strong holdings.

Moreover, considering positional dynamics is crucial. Skilled players understand that opponents may alter their 3bet strategy depending on their position at the table. Adjustments must be made against a 3bet from the cutoff versus one from the blinds. Players may tighten their range when facing a 3bet from an earlier position due to the perceived strength of their opponent’s hand. On the other hand, against a 3bet from the late positions, there’s an expectation of a broader range, calling for a strategic widening of your calling range.

Acknowledging that player tendencies vary and adapting to individual styles is ongoing. A proficient player observes, adapts, and exploits opponents’ patterns, recognizing that a player’s 3betting strategy against them might differ based on the player’s perception of their style. In essence, adjusting 3bet ranges involves a delicate balance of exploiting opponents’ tendencies while remaining unpredictable.

And if you need help choosing your own 3betting preflop ranges, unlock The GTO Ranges App today and get both exploitative and GTO 3bet ranges!


And you should also remember that good players 3bet dynamically. Meaning they will 3bet a different range from the CO against an EP open than they would 3bet from the blinds against a BUT open. Good players will also 3bet you differently than they 3bet fish or an unknown player, so while a reg may have an overall 5% 3bet, they may 3bet this exact situation differently.

This article was meant to be a starting point so you can start understanding what normal ranges look like, how to visualize strong v weak densities, and how polarized v depolarized ranges look and change things. Do some work on your own to think about how this can be useful (hint, think about 4betting!) and you’ll be well on your way to hand reading better in 3bet pots!

Want to understand what players are CALLING your 3bets with? I created a free guide just for you…


2 thoughts on “Understanding 3-Bet Ranges”

  1. Great article. I’m gonna have to go study my opponents whom I have most hands on and analyze their 3-bet range to see if they are polarized or depolarized. Also paying more attention if they get to showdown in a 3-bet pot.

  2. Pay a lot of attention when you see an opponent’s 3bet hand get to showdown…it can tell you a lot if you see them show up with things like TT, AJ, or A4s =)

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