Sometimes you can go you can go for thin value in a 3 bet pot.
We all know that if you want to maximize your win rate in live no limit holdem you have to be able to bet thinly for value. But this does not just apply to normal single raised pots. You must be willing to go for thin value in 3 bet pots as well.
I had a hand that demonstrated this concept taken from a $5-10 no limit game from the Bicycle casino last week.
The villain in the hand was fairly aggressive and likes to sit deep but he has trouble folding over pairs. In a seven handed game it got folded to me and I opened to $30 on the button with 9♥ T♠, $1600 effective. The small blind folded and the villain three bet to $100. I decided to make a pretty optimistic preflop call due to sizing, stack depth and with position. The flop came out J♦ T♦ 9♣ giving me bottom two pair. Much to my surprise the villain did not come out and make a continuation bet. This struck me as odd because I would have figured he would bet hands like AK and AQ and some pure bluffs. So his check indicated to me some sort of medium strength hand like AT or AJ, or an overpair playing carefully. I fully expected him to check call, so I bet $130. He obliged and we saw a 6♦ turn.
This was not the best card in the deck for me but not because I was scared of the flush but rather that his calling range would tighten up now that the flush completed. But I still thought that he would call with overpairs with a diamond in them, some overpairs without a diamond and a hand like AK with a diamond. So after he checked, once again, I fired out $290. He thought about it for about 20 seconds and called.
The river brought a beautiful blank, the 3♥ and he checked for the third time. Now I had a decision to make. I knew that betting three times in position looked very strong and I wondered for a moment if I would get called by a worse hand. A fairly good player would be hard-pressed to call with just an over pair at the end on this run out, facing this action in a three bet pot but I knew that this particular player was similar to a lot of other live players in the fact that he likes to play off of the strength of his own hand and not his opponents’ range. I thought he would still call with a hand like AA, KK, etc. So with the pot being just over $1000 I fired $605 for value. My opponent now took more time—about a minute and finally called. I tabled my hand and I was good.
When I discussed his hand on my podcast over at CrushLivePoker.com some of my subscribers asked me what I would have done if the villain had check raised me on the river. If you have read my CardPlayer articles before you know that I am a big fan of betting for value and folding to raises, especially on the river. However, I don’t always fold. In this particular example, I would’ve found it very very difficult to fold because of the action in the hand. There is no way that I would think such an aggressive player would check the flop after three betting from out of position with a flush draw and then continue to check call the turn and check the river when he made it. Taking that line would be pretty bad because most players in my position would be happy to check back the river at showdown. Because he could not depend on me to bet at the end if he did check raise I probably would have called it off thinking that he was turning the ace of diamonds into a bluff.