Today’s subject is a challenging one: 4-bet bluffing. A lot of players don’t give their 4-bet range enough forethought, instead choosing to 4-bet seemingly random hands on the spot. But 4-bet bluffing with the wrong type of hand can lead to a few problems:
- Awkward post-flop situations
- Embarrassing hand histories
- Marginal hands in big pots (rarely a fun thing to deal with)
And of course, all of that means less money and an uglier graph for you. We’ll go over exactly which hands you should 4-bet bluff with shortly, but first, you need to know the frequency at which you will 4-bet bluff.
How Often Should You 4-Bet Bluff?
Your 4-bet bluffing frequency in a given situation depends on your 4-bet value range in that situation. Generally speaking, the wider your 4bet value range is in a spot, the more often you should be 4-betting as a bluff. In some deep stack full-ring situations, you may only want to be 4-bet/getting all-in with AA and KK. In those situations, you shouldn’t try to4-bet bluff very often because you don’t get dealt AA or KK often enough to give those bluffs some credibility.
However, if you’re in a spot where you will be getting it in with less-premium hands like AK or JJ (like in a late position battle), suddenly your value range is much wider which allows you to mix a decent number of 4-bet bluffs into your range.
The next step to choosing our 4-bet bluffs is deciding what hands you can profitably call the3-bet with. Think about a likely 3-bet size for your opponent and use range software to determine what hands you can profitably call with vs that size. All of the hands that are profitable calls will be the hands you call with.
They are already profiting, so there’s rarely a need to turn them into bluffs and sometimes doing so will actually make them losers in the long run instead. There are exceptions to this rule, and when you get more experienced you’ll be able to tell what those are, but in general “call the 3-bet when you can profitably do so” is a good rule to live by.
What Types of Hands Should You 4-Bet Bluff?
The first type of hand you want to have comprising your 4-bet bluff range is your weak Ax hands, particularly the suited ones. Having an ace blocker in your hand makes it less likely your opponent has a strong hand, thus they will fold to your 4betmore often. Also, suited Ax hands have a solid amount of equity against a typical 4-bet/call range. You will usually have at least 30% equity against their strongest hands, and even more against their entire calling range. Take a look at my favorite 4-bet bluffing hand’s equity against a super nitty calling range of QQ-TT, AQs-AJs, and AQo:
These are almost always the best hands to 4bet bluff with, but you can’t only4bet bluff with Ax because then it makes it extremely easy to play against you in a 4-bet pot. If an ace comes, your opponent will know it is very likely that you have top pair and they will be able to fold a lot of their weaker hands without resistance. Even some experienced players have this leak and it can become a huge problem if your opponents start to catch on.
The best way to combat this issue is to mix in those suited connectors that aren’t quite good enough to call with. If you decide that T9s is the worst hand you’ll call their 3-bet with, then hands like 98s, T8s, and 87s would be reasonable hands to mix into your 4-bet bluff range. Sometimes, even hands like KJ or QJ can be turned into 4-bet bluffs as they have the added benefit of blocking multiple premium hands.
Ax is still going to be the most profitable type of hand to 4-bet bluff, but it’s important to balance your bluffing range for purposes of deception and board coverage. Ax plays best when you simply get your opponents to fold and avoid post flop play altogether, so you should tend to have those Ax hands in your range a bit more when you are shallow and tend to have more 98s and KJ type hands when you’re a bit deeper and post-flop play is more likely. Those hands may not get the fold quite as often, but at least they will be a bit easier to play post-flop when called.
If you ever have trouble choosing which hands to 4-bet bluff with, think through these steps:
Step 1) Determine your 4-bet value range in a given situation.
Step 2) Calculate (or just estimate)your 3-bet calling range.
Step 3) Choose the best bluffing hands just outside of that calling range, usually Ax and suited connectors, 4-bet bluffs.
4-betting light is an essential strategy in modern-day poker because it protects your open raising range. If you never 4-bet light, your opponents could relentlessly 3-bet you with very little risk knowing you will either fold or call and play a pot out of position. That’s a win-win for them. Avoid giving your opponents an easy win-win situation and work some light 4-bets into your game from time to time.
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