The most dangerous bluff in No Limit Hold’em is the threebet bluff out of position. You could have a great career without hardly ever doing one.
However, if you have a guy who is perpetually opening on your blinds and you’re in a tournament, there can be some great opportunities to threebet bluff.
First off, you should pick a hand that has some equity postflop. Big cards are fine. Suited gappers are great. Even unsuited connectors can work on rare occasions. A-x offsuit can work, but only if you’re willing to make some serious folds.
One of the easiest ways to get away with a threebet bluff out of position is to realize when you won’t be playing three streets. Position is only as important as the number of streets you play. When you move all-in with 17 big blinds preflop it doesn’t matter what position you’re in. The guy can’t exploit you. If the stacks are only deep enough to play a flop, and you have a great idea as to how that flop will play out, then position isn’t nearly as important.
Stack size will frequently determine how few streets you play. Say a guy raises 2X on your big blind from a 29X stack. You know he raises practically half his hands from that spot, and he doesn’t fold any of them preflop to the threebet bluff. He might fold the garbage offsuit hands, but even then…you’re doubting it. Oddly, this player type is not that rare anymore.
So, he raises your big blind, and you have 6h-3h. You can call with this hand, but he has been in that spot so many times before. Everybody flats from the big blind now. He will know how to check back some of his high cards and small pairs. It will be difficult to checkraise bluff him.
So instead we do a smaller threebet. He’s worried. He would normally flat with A-10o and 77 in our spot, so he assumes our range is A-J+, 88+. He might not be able to articulate that, but that’s what his subconscious is telling him.
He calls, because God forbid, he ever fold to a threebet when he’s in position. Then, on the flop, when he’s operating from that stack, practically any sizeable continuation bet will threaten all of his chips. It’s hard for guys to call with high cards in this spot, so if the board missed his hand he’s going to fold.
You’ll know what boards he’s hitting. People like to raise and call with offsuited high cards. There’s far more combinations of offsuit high cards then there are of suited small and middle cards. If the board comes with two cards nine or higher you’ll know he’s likely hit something.
If you hit something mediocre, you can check/call the flop with the understanding that people are fairly bad at shoving turns with nothing. As long as you can make the occasional big fold, you’ll come out ahead.
Of course, this is an extremely exploitative play that only works versus basic opponents, but if you want to get your feet wet with threebetting out of position, I suggest you try one of these threebets in a local live tournament sometime. You can also try it in a $5.00 or $10.00 tournament online as play gets deep.
Once you move up, however, people are just going to start jamming on you with many hands preflop. So, you should try a slightly more elaborate bluff.
If a person raises from 35-45X stack I love this next play.
Say you moved up to a $500 tournament or a $1,050 live tournament. You have some chips to gamble with, otherwise you shouldn’t try this play. You have a 100X. You have a kid at the table who is loving showing off how aggressive he is. He is underestimating you due to ageism, sexism, what have you.
He raises your big blind. You threebet your bluff. He calls.
The board comes all low cards with a flush draw. The board comes with a flush draw and one high card that’s not an ace. The board comes with a straight draw that doesn’t include two cards over a nine. Start with these boards. Use Flopzilla and look at his flatting range to come up with more.
The thing about all of these boards is they are the type of board someone would fastplay their sets, two pair, and some overpairs on.
You check on this board. You stare at the board for a few seconds, like you’re waiting for something to appear. A lot of guys do this with their big cards when they miss. Subconsciously, the young budding pro will pick up on this.
He will then take a continuation bet shot with many of the hands he missed the flop with. But here’s the beautiful thing. If he hit a good pair, a lot of times he will check! Many guys do it for pot control, because they’re worried about how big threebet pots can become. But with nothing, they don’t really have anything to lose, so they take their shot.
You then look dejected for 20 seconds. Then quietly say, “raise.” Make it a large one. Perhaps 80% of the pot or more. Look like you have a set or a big hand that you’re Hollywooding with.
I’ve taught this play to a number of different women and senior citizens. They have reported young guys showing them pairs and folding!
You can’t really blame them. Nine times out of ten, they ran into the hand in that spot. Due to their stack size, the next bet is going to be an all-in. They’re not willing to risk that.
Start with those two basic bluffs. After that, threebetting out of position becomes infinitely more complex. A lot of it has to do with what your opponent will do with high cards. Some good players know how to raise flop continuation bets, for example, with their high cards as a bluff, but they will assume you’re pot controlling with a pair if you check out of position after you threebet preflop. They’ll check back and you can pick up the pot on the turn with a small bet. They’ll likely fold their high cards and give you a credit for a pair at that point.
As you can imagine, picking off this specific player takes a great deal of experience and attention to detail. Furthermore, there is no room for error out of position. You can be mediocre with hand reading and flop analysis in position and still make money, but that is not going to happen out of position. Flopzilla needs to become a good friend of yours if you’re going to start repopping it in the small blind or big blind. Do not go into war on that battlefield until you feel prepared.
I hope these tips have been beneficial to you and your game. Good luck to all of you.