One of the most advanced tactics that can help you dominate the game is the 4-bet and 5-bet strategies. These moves require precision and a deep understanding of your opponent’s playing style, but when executed correctly, they can turn the tide of the game in your favor. In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of 4- or 5-betting and equip you with the knowledge to incorporate such powerful poker strategy into your game.
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Micro-Stakes and 4-/5-Betting
Let’s clarify that the 4- or 5-bet advanced poker strategy is less relevant in micro-stakes poker. Most micro-stakes players are loose-passive recreational players and tight/nitty regulars who tend to have relatively strong default ranges for 3-bets, 4-bets, and 5-bets, leaving little room for bluffing.
In other words, if an opponent only 4-bet with hands they intend to go all-in with, there is no point in bluffing them with a 5-bet. It’s crucial to remember this, as one of the easiest ways to lose in micro stakes is to fall into the trap of donating money to the most conservative regular players.
4- And 5-Bet as a Bluff
Let’s discuss cold 4-bet bluffs, which can improve a micro-stakes player’s win rate if used sparingly. While the average 4-bet and 5-bet ranges in micro stakes are generally narrow, the same cannot be said for 3-betting ranges. While many conservative players are at micro stakes, more skilled regulars often experiment with wider 3-betting ranges, primarily for value-heavy isolation or bluff-heavy squeeze plays.
Suppose you see a skilled regular with a higher than average 3-bet frequency (>7%) isolating a recreational player with a 3-bet, and you happen to hold a good set of blockers that you cannot call with (such as a suited Ace or KQ). In that case, it may be wise to use some of those combos as cold 4-bet bluffs to balance out your value 4-betting range. It is important to note that using offsuit combos in your bluff 4-bet range can quickly make it too loose, so it is best to stick to suited Ax blockers.
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Hands to 4-Bet as a Bluff
When considering which hands to use for 4-bet bluffs, avoiding randomly choosing cards without a straightforward thought process is essential. Instead, you should select hands that are strong enough not to call the 3-bet.
One type of hand that works well as a 4-bet bluff is suited to is Aces, mainly wheel Ax hands such as A2, A3, A4, and A5. These hands are advantageous because they remove the possibility of the opponent having Aces or Ace-King, have good equity against a 4-bet calling range, and offer solid playability with the ability to flop straight draws, pairs, and nut flush draws.
4-Bet for Value Pre-flop
The primary reason for 4-bet is to extract value from an opponent by holding a premium hand likely to be superior to their holdings. In some cases, opponents may only re-raise with premium hands, and it’s not advisable to slow play in these situations. Instead, a 4-bet is necessary to capitalize on the value of your hand.
However, determining the optimal range for 4-betting can be challenging and dependent on various factors. In positional battles like Blind vs. Blind or Button vs. Small Blind, it can be correct to 4-bet for value with hands as wide as AQ and 99. Against tighter players or earlier positions, a value 4-bet range will generally be tighter, with hands such as QQ+, AK, and occasionally JJ. However, these are not strict rules and should only serve as general guidelines.
When Facing a 4-Bet
If you encounter an adversary who frequently 4-bets, consider that you may have good odds to call their 4-bet simply. These odds may even be as high as 3 or 4 to 1. In cases where you determine that you hold 25-30% equity versus your rival’s 4-bet range, accepting the call may result in profitable outcomes in the long run.
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Why Use 5-Bet?
In poker, a 5-bet occurs when there are four raises after the initial bet. This term is significant in the game of No Limit Holdem. For example, in a scenario where a player raises in early position (second bet), another player re-raises on the button (3-bet), the small blind re-raises again (4-bet), and the big blind shoves all-in with a large stack, it would qualify as a 5-bet. However, such instances are rare in No Limit Holdem because one of the players involved in the hand will usually be all-in before a 5-bet can occur.
Generally, a 5-bet involves shoving and is typically used with strong hands you want to go all-in with before the flop. However, in some high-level games where players frequently 4-bet, a 5-bet bluff can be helpful to protect your 3-bets.
In most games you’ll encounter, it’s best to only 5-bet all-in with premium hands that you’re willing to go all-in with pre-flop. Situations where you might want to use 5-bet bluffs are rare and usually only occur in high-level games.
Making 5-bet bluffs in micro-stakes online or live poker games is not typically advantageous, and it should only be a small part of your strategy to defend the blinds.
Nowadays, many players 3-bet a broad range of hands from the blinds, and some may choose not to protect any hands from the small blind passively and instead 3-bet every hand they want to defend with. In this scenario, when a player on the button or cutoff responds with a 4-bet it may not be enough to only respond with a value 5-bet.
Suppose you’re frequently facing 4-bets from an overly aggressive player. In that case, incorporate strong blocker hands into your range and standard premium hands like QQ+ and AK. This might be a good Holdem strategy that will help to decrease the frequency of 4-bets against you.
Understanding the poker tactics for 4-bet and 5-bet is essential for any serious No-Limit Texas Holdem player. Knowing when and how to use these advanced moves can make a significant difference in the profitability of your game. It is important to remember that these moves should be used selectively and only in certain situations, such as when facing aggressive opponents or when holding strong, valued hands. As with any poker strategy, remaining aware of your opponent’s tendencies and adjusting your game accordingly is crucial.