Even champs are li­able to light 3-bet

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - POKER - By Chad Hol­loway

At the end of May, the most ex­pen­sive poker tour­na­ment of the year took place at the Aria Re­sort & Casino in Las Ve­gas. The $ 300,000 Su­per High Roller Bowl saw 56 play­ers pony up the $300,000 buyin, which cre­ated a prize pool of $16.8 mil­lion. More than a third of that prize pool — $6 mil­lion, to be ex­act — was set aside for the win­ner.

One of the play­ers com­pet­ing for all of that cash was 14-time World Series of Poker bracelet win­ner Phil Hell­muth, whose only luck that day was bad luck.

In Level 3 of the tour­na­ment, ac­tion folded to Hell­muth on the but­ton, and he raised to 4,000. Poker pro Justin Bonomo then three- Phil Hell­muth’s hand: bet to 16,000 from the small blind. Hell­muth called, and the flop came down 7c 10c 9h.

Bonomo con­tin­ued for 15,000, Hell­muth raised to 40,000, and Bonomo called to see the Qh turn.

Af­ter Bonomo checked, Hell­muth slid out a bet of 60,000. Bonomo re­sponded by check-rais­ing all in for 144,000, and Hell­muth snap-called with the 10h 10s for the top flopped set.

Much to Hell­muth’s sur­prise, Bonomo rolled over Justin Bonomo’s hand: 8h 6h for a flopped straight and a heart flush draw. Hell­muth could still win if the board paired on the river, but that didn’t hap­pen, as the use­less 3s ap­peared in­stead.

Hell­muth nursed his short stack for two more lev­els be­fore bust­ing out to an­other cooler, this time set over set on the flop. As for the hand that did the dam­age, it was a prime ex­am­ple of the ben­e­fits that come with three-bet­ting light.

Most play­ers wouldn’t Flop: raise with 8-6 suited, es­pe­cially when out of po­si­tion. Most play­ers would ei­ther fold it straight away or call to see a flop. What Bonomo did is of­ten re­ferred to as “three-bet­ting light.”

By three-bet­ting light, Bonomo is bal­anc­ing his range. What does that mean ex­actly? Es­sen­tially, he’s show­ing his op­po­nents that he’s will­ing to raise a wide va­ri­ety of hands, whether it be pocket aces or 8-6 suited. When play­ers do this, it be­comes dif­fi­cult to put Turn: them on a hand, which makes them harder to play against.

In con­trast, think about the play­ers in your home game who only raise with big pocket pairs. For them, a “tight is right” strat­egy is the only one in their play­book. You sim­ply can’t play against them when­ever they raise, be­cause you know they have a big pocket pair. It’s easy.

Now imag­ine play­ing against op­po­nents who raise the same amount re- River: gard­less of whether they hold aces or small suited cards.

In the Hell­muth vs. Bonomo hand, you can’t re­ally blame Hell­muth for get­ting it in. Even if he had some­how an­tic­i­pated his op­po­nent three-bet­ting so lightly, the cooler flop en­sured that Hell­muth was go­ing to lose a lot of chips. Chad Hol­loway is a 2013 World Series of Poker bracelet win­ner.

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