Light three bets in the micro stakes are needed, but they are not absolutely critical to your success. In small stakes and medium stakes games, light three bets will play a much more pivotal role. Light three bets are used primarily to balance out ranges, something that is not at all necessary in the micro stakes. If you are completely unfamiliar with the terminology, a light three bet is a pre-flop re-raise that is made with a weak hand. In other words, if you raise with one of these hands, it is not because you want to get all of the money in pre-flop. Instead, the goal of this play is to force as many folds as possible.
Even when a three bet fails, though, it will still derive some benefits. A failed light three bet will allow you to play with a weaker image, which in turn gives you a stronger opportunity to value bet hard when you have made hands. If you don’t understand how to utilize the outcome of your light three bet, whatever it may be, you will probably be better off not making light bets at all.
The four biggest factors in a successful light three bet are position, bet sizing, hand strength, and your opponent(s). All four of these elements are relatively easy to analyze in a matter of seconds, especially after you gain a fair amount of experience. The dilemma for rookie light bettors is identifying which spots are and which spots are not ideal for a re-steal. There is no easier way to throw money down the drain than to make a big mistake with a light three bet. You are not going to be successful with every attempt that you make, of course, but you should be right a fair amount of the time. Successful three betting skills are developed in practice, not only in theory. Everyone knows that they should three or four bet with KK or AA, but only the top players can pick out a good spot for a light three bet.
Your position is the most obvious factor when contemplating a light three bet. If you are in early or middle position, the best play is to simply abandon the idea of a re-steal. There may be some very rare exceptions to this rule, but a light three bet is best executed from late position. The later your position, the fewer players that you will need to force a fold from. This is the most important reason to make your light three bets from late position, but it is hardly the only reason. You will fail many times with your light three bets, and there will be a number of situations where you find a few flat calls. In these spots you will need to be prepared for post-flop play. Playing in position post-flop will make it easier to take the pot down when you were unable to garner folds pre-flop. Instead of having to act first, you can let your opponent(s) act and then react to any moves that they make. Plus, every once in a while you will end up flopping a big hand, which also is easier to play when in position.
One of the elements of successful light three bets that is often times overlooked is bet sizing. The general rule of thumb is that a 3 bet should be large, and a 4 bet should be small. As a result, your steal attempts should be implemented with a large raise. Small raises not only invite calls, but they will give you less post-flop power. It is better to make a big three bet and get called or raised than it is to make a small one and gather a handful of calls. Sure, you are going to lose a fair amount when you wind up getting called or raised, but a big play is the only logical way to force folds. Win big or lose big, there isn’t a whole lot of middle ground with light three bets.
Hand strength seems like it might be an irrelevant factor given that light three bets are made with weak hands, but this couldn’t be further form the truth. It is infinitely better to three bet light with a hand like K3 suited that it is to make the same play with Q7os.. Though a light three bet is made with a weak hand, you should still be giving yourself a chance to flop hard with a deceptive hand. K3 suited is ideal for a light three bet because it will allow you to either flop a big flush (or draw), two pair, or three of a kind. If two threes fall on the flop, very few of your opponents will ever put you on that type of hand. In most cases, your opponents will disregard the possibility of you ever having a three. Think about it, if someone three bet you pre-flop, what kind of hands could they possibly have that would include a three? Not many, unless they had complete air. This is why your hand will be so well disguised, which in turn will allow you to maximize value on the rare occasions where you hit the flop hard. The suited hands with big kickers are perfect for light three bets. K3, Q2 suited, etc. are all great to re-steal with. Be careful where you draw the line, though, because ace rag is not nearly is deceptive or valuable. Stay away from light three bets with random aces, but make your moves with random kings and queens.
Your opponents are especially important in the micro stakes. In small stakes and medium stakes games, the majority of players will be capable of laying down a ton of hands when facing a three bet, but this just isn’t the case in the micro stakes. In micro stakes games, a lot of players will see a flop with any hand imaginable. Because of this, you need to be extremely careful who you are getting involved with. The age old rule of “never bluff a calling station” is never more applicable than when making a light three bet in the micro stakes. If you don’t have a good feel for how any given player tends to play, the best course of action is to sit back and wait for a better spot. Going into a light three bet blind is as good as lighting money on fire. If you know that there is a player ahead of you who tends to back down to aggression, however, you will be in the perfect spot for a three bet. Being able to pull the trigger is critical. Scared money will never make money.
Micro Stakes 3 Bets vs. Higher Limit Games
Most light three betting strategy will hold true from limit to limit, but the micro stakes are unique for a few different reasons. First, you will not have as many opponents who are even capable of letting go of their hands, regardless of how obvious their fold should be. This was covered in-depth above, in the “your opponents” section, so what else is there to know?
In small stakes and medium stakes games, there will be occasions where your failed light three bet can be effectively transformed into a light four or five bet. In the micro stakes, however, light four or five bets are a major mistake. The fact is that players in these games will very, very rarely make a light three bet on their own: a requirement for your success with a light four or five bet. In the end, if your light three bet does not work initially in the micro stakes, you should just give up. Seldom is giving up the best piece of advice, but it is the perfect plan in this situation.