Start your live poker study with 3-bet pots

Most theory guides start by examining BTN vs BB (SRP) Single-Raised Pots with the argument it's the most common spot. That may be true in 6-max online, but in live poker, it's a relatively uncommon spot.

I recommend starting with 3-bet pots for a few reasons:

  1. It's rare in 9-max live to get folds to the button. There's 3 additional players who can open the pot ahead of you, less tight preflop ranges, and more limping. 3-betting and squeezing are important ways to force more money in against weak ranges or forcing them out of the pot.
  2. 3-bet or fold is is especially strong in high rake games or in games where people use large bet sizing - both often true in live poker games.
  3. Live players tend to call 3-bets OOP too much, which gives you additional EV.
  4. Live players often don't 3-bet enough, which means they are often less experienced playing in 3-bet pots.
  5. Live players often don't 4-bet bluff, punishing you less for light 3-bets and letting you off the hook when they do 4-bet
  6. Since you will often find yourself in 3-bet pots, you can 3-bet or fold to reduce the number of spots to study.
  7. 3-bet pots have lower SRP. This means they're both easier to study, and theory-based strategies are stronger. Generally, the deeper your stacks, the more you will make and face big polarized bets, where live reads and instincts matter more. The lower the stack-to-pot ratio, the more it's important that you stick to strong technical fundamentals.

There's only one big disadvantage of 3-betting often in live poker - generally, deeper stacks amplify a skill advantage.

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