Light 4-Bets: Risk and Reward

Light 4-bets are a foreign concept to many players, but the same can be said about light 3-bets. If you know what a light three bet is, then this article is for you. As you begin to progress in limits and work your way up the ladder, your skills will need to develop so that you can keep up with the pace. Unfortunately, a by-product of advanced poker skills and techniques is an increased amount of variance. One of the most popular variance increasing plays is what is known as the light 4-bet. A light 4-bet is when you initiate a re-re raise while holding nothing at all. This is the type of play that is very risky and should only be attempted by players in the proper limits and with the right amount of experience.

Even if you know what a light 4-bet is and believe that you would be able to properly implement one, you should always tread carefully. One of the pre-requisites to ever using a light 4-bet is that you are at least in the small stakes online games. A rare exception could be made for some super tough 100NL games, which would still be considered part of the micro stakes. Light 4-bets are one of the many ways that experienced poker players look to balance their ranges and table image in some of the toughest games online. Small and mid stakes games might not play with nosebleed figures, but they are not that far off talent wise.

Hands

Choosing the right hands to 4-bet light with is one of the finer elements of this particular skill. If you aren’t 4-betting light with the right hands, you are already lighting money on fire (pun intended). As odd as it might sound, the best light 4-betting hands are the same hands that you should be throwing away in early position. On that same note, these are the hands that you are likely to steal with in late position. In other words, sound light 4-betting hands include suited connectors with big cards, such as Kh 4h. This is a valuable hand because it will be deceptive if it is able to hit the flop, is capable of being laid down when shoved on in a deep stack game, and it will help to balance your range in showdown situations. If you do not see why Kh 4h would be a good hand to 4-bet light with, the chances are that you aren’t ready to 4-bet light at all. Remember, these are total bluff hands that still have some potential major value.

4-betting light with AQ type hands is nothing short of suicide for your bankroll. First, AQ is not a bad hand to start with. In fact, it is quite strong. As a result, a light 4-bet would be turning a strong hand into a total bluff. It is OK to turn some strength into a bluff on occasion post-flop, but it is a major mistake pre-flop. Instead of playing AJ or AQ in a light 4-bet situation, play it slow or get out of the way altogether.

The other set of popular bad light 4-betting hands is suited connectors. You would think that they serve the purpose of deceptiveness, and sometimes they do, but a light 4-bet drains them of their inherent value. The profitability of suited connectors is found in their ability to get into pots for a low price and cash out for big wins. This, however, is the exact opposite of the strategy for successful light 4-bets.

Position

Light 4-betting is a unique move in poker because position will not always be totally relevant. Where a light 3-bet should find a player in late position, this does not need to be the case with a light 4-bet. If you 4-bet light out of position, you are either going to be all in or making a huge play on the flop. Both of these cases would actually be beneficial out of position. Out of position 4-bets tend to be given more credit, allowing you to force a higher percentage of folds. With all of that said, there is nothing wrong with making your light 4-bet from late position either.

Opponents

Your opponents are absolutely critical when it comes to your success with light 4-betting. First, you need to be facing some players who are capable of two things: either making a light 3-bet or folding a 3-bet with a real hand. In other words, if you are playing someone who you know is perfectly capable of re-raising light, they would be an ideal target for a light 4-bet. Likewise, a player who you know will 3-bet TT+, but also be able to lay it down, is also a great opponent to 4-bet. If you are up against a calling station or someone who is showing previously unseen strength, however, you should step out of the line of fire.

Bet Sizes and Stack Sizes

The stack sizes of both you and the other relevant player in the hand are extremely important when 4-betting light. If you are playing super deep stacked, you will have the rare ability to 4-bet light and still get away with a fold. Pretend that you are at 200NL (½) with $700 stacks. This would be the type of situation where you could ditch your failed 4-bet hand, even if it cost you a lot of money. Say that an open raise was made to $12, your opponent raises to $38, and you re-raise to $111. This would mean you need to call any $200 shove, but it also means that you can instantly muck when they re-pop to $300.

Your light 4-bets should be sizable enough to push opponents off their hands, but you shouldn’t make them suspicious. The ultimate goal would be to put a little bit more pressure on your opponents than you would if you had an actual made hand. You do not want to sucker players in with a light 4-bet like you would with a big hand, so it is better to take a risk now than to get called or re-raised and see a flop. Take a stand and put your opponent to a difficult decision, but don’t make it obvious that you are trying to push them out of the pot with brute force alone.