We’re essentially attempting to exploit our opponent through 4-betting in three predominant ways:

  • Inflating the pot pre-flop when we believe we have the best hand
  • Getting our opponent to fold the better hand pre-flop
  • Forcing our opponent to passively call, giving us leverage going into the flop

Rather than viewing 4-betting as a high-wire poker trapeze act, recognize it’s a play that needs to be used from time to time. Throughout our progression as poker players, we’ll want to work to become more proficient at 4-betting with not just our premium hands, but with semi-premium and marginal hands as well.

Common Scenarios

For both examples, we’ll assume both stacks have 50 blinds and it’s mid-way through a tournament.

Example 1: We believe we have the best hand with QQ against a loose-aggressive opponent sitting to our left. We open to 2.5x from middle position and our opponent 3-bet us from the cut-off position to 7 total blinds. If we feel we’re winning and want to inflate the pot as large as possible we might 4-bet to 18 blinds. We’re hoping our opponent 5-bet jams on us or just calls us pre-flop. With only two-over card possibilities and the fact that there will already be over 35 blinds in the pot, we’re extremely committed to the pot given the way we’ve played it. We’re essentially going for the gusto with what we believe to be the best hand.

Example 2: Let’s say we’re at a table and have a tight image. We open to 2.5x from the button with 8-7 suited and the small blind 3-bets us to 7.5x. Assuming we feel this opponent is aggressive enough to have plenty of marginal or semi-premium hands worked into their range – we might re-min raise to 12.5x total. Assuming we induce our opponent to just call our 4-bet pre-flop, we have both the “lead” in the hand (since we were the last player to make an aggressive action) and position on our opponent. Once checked to on the flop, a bet of 8x to 10x will take down the pot the vast majority of the time. Once we’ve put our opponent on their heals pre-flop, it becomes much more likely we’ll be able to win the hand post-flop. You’ll see in these examples that by manipulating the size of a 4-bet, we’re often able to steer our opponent in one direction or another. No two situations is exactly alike, so be sure to always think it through before you decide to put in a 4-bet. Most of all, be precise.