The faster you figure this out, the better
As you continue to move up in stakes, you will find the majority of players have three-betting figured out a lot better, which means that to have any chance of surviving the mid-stakes and beyond, it’s crucial to understand the correct adjustments against aggressive three-bettors. How aggressive does someone need to be three-betting us before we can start four-betting light? Which hands are the best to four-bet with in the first place? These are some questions that I’ll address in this article, so let’s jump right into it.
Category 1: Aces (AA**)
There are mainly four different categories of hands that are good candidates for four-betting. The first (and most obvious category) are Aces. I want to quickly point out that unless mentioned otherwise, this article focuses on four-betting with 100bb stacks. I’m definitely not saying that four-betting (or knowing when to four-bet) at other stack levels isn’t important. However, we will be focusing on the most common stack size for online six-max.
Regardless of whether you are IP or OOP, if someone three-bets the full pot-size when you have Aces, you should always be four-betting full pot for a few different reasons. First, although it’s rare, people will sometimes fold to your four-bet. This is a fine result since equities run a lot closer together in PLO, so preventing the opponent from realizing equity, and collecting some dead money in the process is definitely a victory. Furthermore, smooth-calling a three-bet with weak Aces has little benefit, because they have minimal post-flop playability, particularly when OOP. Four-betting to 35bb leaves an SPR of ~1 on the flop, thereby creating a chance to get the money in quickly with just one pot-sized bet.
Category 2: Kings (KK**)
The next category of ideal four-betting hands are pocket Kings, especially pocket Kings with an Ace blocker (i.e. AKK*). Pocket Kings are the only non-Aces hands that have an equity edge against an opponent who’s three-betting range is between 8 and 12 percent. To be specific, AKK* has a 55-60 percent equity edge against an 8 percent three-betting range, and a more than 60 percent edge against a 12 percent three-betting range.
Just because most KK** hands have an equity edge against this range doesn’t mean you should treat them like Aces, and auto four-bet any time an aggressive player three-bets you. It’s probably better to fold weaker Kings to a three-bet without an Ace blocker, because they have even less post-flop playability than weak Aces. Also, without an Ace in your hand, it’s more likely the opponent is three-betting with Aces.
Moreover, besides four-betting Kings with an Ace blocker, you should also four-bet Kings with lot of connectedness and suitedness (i.e. K♦K♥J♦T♣, K♠K♥8♠7♥). These have better four-betting potential than weaker Kings because they’re much smoother, and will therefore dominate our opponents more often post-flop.
Additionally, it is important to pay attention to the opponent’s three-betting tendencies. Countless times I’ve seen students put a light four-bet on someone that’s only three-betting 4 percent or less. Avoid this mistake, because getting stacks in with 35-40 percent equity adds up very quickly. Go through your database and pick apart players’ ranges if necessary. If a player is three-betting a higher frequency from the BTN when facing CO opens, then put in a light four-bet to keep them honest. On the other hand, if their three-betting range out of the blinds is tight, then you can either fold or smooth call depending on what your hand strength is.
Category 3: Strong Ace-High Hands (i.e. A♠K♦J♠T♣)
The third category of ideal hands to four-bet an aggressive three-bettor with is strong Ace-high hands. These hands don’t necessarily have an equity edge against the same 8 percent and 12 percent three-betting ranges referenced in the previous section, but they can be profitable four-bets for other reasons. First, it can force your opponent to make a mistake by folding a hand with enough equity to call (like pocket Kings). Second, it will still dominate enough post-flop stack-off ranges.
Category 4: Double-Suited Connectors (i.e. J♦T♣9♦8♣)
The final category of hands to four-bet light with are double-suited connectors. They’re mainly profitable four-bets for the same reasons that strong A-high rundowns are. Again, players will fold to your four-bet some of the time, they’re very smooth, and if your opponent doesn’t have an Ace, they’ll give up easily on Ace-high boards.
Remember that when you four-bet, people will usually put you squarely on Aces. This is why it’s good to four-bet wider against habitual three-bettors. If they’re three-betting a wider range like 12 percent or more, your four-bets with double-suited broadway rundowns will dominate their four-bet calling range. In other words, we’re fine with them folding, but in many instances, the four-bet is practically for sheer value against a wide calling range.
Last, four-betting light can be very deceptive. If someone observes you four-bet a non-Aces hand, they’ll definitely take note of it, which means they will be more prone to stacking off incorrectly in the future when you have Aces.