If the big blind is considered the first bet in a poker hand, when someone makes an initial raise, then that would be considered a 2bet. After that, a re-raise would be regarded as a 3bet (the third bet), and then if someone then goes on to re-raise the 3bet, then that would be viewed as a 4bet (and so on).

4betting primarily focuses on preflop situations. Presented below, you’ll find all the necessary information to know regarding 4bets, including general strategy to use, recommended sizing, how to continue post-flop play, and much more.

Watch Kara Scott Interview with Martin Jacobson on 4 betting:

Table of Contents

Basic 4bet Strategy

To start with, it’s important to understand the primary reasons to 4bet with a hand:

  1. For Value: To extract value from worse hands.

  2. To Bluff: To balance out your value range so that you don’t become exploitable by only 4betting your premium hands.

  3. To Steal the Pot: There is often a lot of “dead money” in the money that can be won through 4bets, like when there’s multiple players already involved in a hand, and you think the 3bettor is weak and will often fold.

  4. Equity Denial: Similar to the last point, if you can get your opponent to fold preflop after 4betting, you realise 100% of your hand’s equity, while you deny your opponent from achieving his.

  5. Isolate Opponents: Hands will maintain the highest amount of preflop equity when you can get involved in a pot heads-up with one other player. Aces, for example, might win ~25% of the time when involved in a pot with 6 players, but win ~80% of the time when only facing one other opponent.

Next, in order to grasp the strategic principles of 4betting, the most prominent aspect is to assign a range of hands you expect villain might be 3betting.

NOTE: There are many, many variables in situations revolved around 4betting, such as position, villain type, sizing, stack sizes, etc. Always approach each 4betting situation with flexibility to help you adapt to all of these variables, which will continue to be discussed throughout this article.

Start by asking yourself these two questions, and then answering them:

  1. What range of hands is villain 3betting? This answer is going to rely heavily on player type and position of players in a poker hand (discussed more thoroughly in the next section).
  1. What range of hands does continue with vs our 4bet (either by calling our 4bet or by 5betting)? This result is going to help determine both what your 4betting range should be, as well as how many bluffs you should include:
  • If you 4bet a hand that is better than villain’s continuing range, you’re 4betting for value.
  • If you 4bet a hand that is worse than villain’s continuing range, you’re 4betting as a bluff.



Let’s suppose your opponent 3bets a very narrow, polarised range of QQ+, AK for value, and A2s-A5s for his bluffs. Therefore, if you open-raise TT or JJ here, assuming folding is out of the question, which option is better – calling or 4betting?

In this situation, 4betting has no merit, because villain is only going to stay in with a range better than yours (regardless of if he calls or 5bets) with QQ+ and AK, as he’ll easily be able to fold his suited baby Aces to a 4bet.

Therefore, a crucial aspect of 4betting is analysing if 4betting specific hands will keep in enough worse hands to make such a play +EV.

4Betting: Positioning of Players

The position of active players in a hand will certainly play a prominent role in subsequent 4betting ranges.

For example, if someone is 3betting an UTG raiser – as the UTG’s raising range should be the tightest opening range of any table position - the re-raiser’s 3bet range should subsequently be much tighter than usual. If that’s the case, then a 4bettor in this situation should have a very narrow range of value hands, and only a minimal amount of bluffs (if at all).

Oppositely, if you have a button open (typically a wide opening range of anywhere between 35% and 100% of hands) and have a small blind 3bettor (who can 3bet a larger range against a very wide button range), 4bet ranges can include a more extensive variety of hands, as well.

Ultimately, a wide range of 3bet situations call for expanded 4bet ranges; oppositely, narrow range 3bet situations call for even narrower 4bet ranges.

Beyond that, the number of bluffs to include in such ranges will depend on villain’s “fold to 4bet after 3bet” tendencies.

4Betting: Exploitative vs Balanced

There are two primary types of strategies one can use in poker:

  • Balanced: In this game, you play an unexploitable, sound poker strategy (having the correct number of bluffs to value bets in any situation, defending based on Minimum Defence Frequencies (MDF), etc.). You’ll profit off your opponents’ mistakes.
  • Exploitative: In these situations, you deviate from GTO play to maximise winnings based on countering the weak tendencies of your opponents. This style is going to be the most common that should be used by the majority of poker players, as many players will have some sort of exploitable leaks.

Therefore, when 4betting, it’s important to know which of these strategies you want to utilise.

Here are a few examples:

  1. If a regular/good player 3bets you with a standard range of hands in a situation, then you should 4bet appropriately using a GTO approach.

  2. If a loose-aggressive player 3bets you with an overly wide range of hands (sub-optimal), you can counteract this using an exploitative approach and expand the value part of your 4betting range.

  3. If a nit 3bets you, you can narrow your 4bet value hands to include only Aces and maybe Kings, calling with all other hands if you’re getting the right pot odds or implied odds.

  4. If a player has a high “3bet %” and a high “fold to 4bet after 3bet” stat, you can add many more bluffs to your 4betting range, as you retain good fold equity against them.

Knowing if you should include any bluffs in a 4bet range, in addition to how many 4bet bluff combos to include will often come down to using an exploitative approach (as a GTO strategy would always be well-balanced, using perhaps 2 or 3 value combos to every 1 bluff combo).

A good exploitative rule of thumb to know for 4betting is regarding how often villain will fold after 3betting:

  • If this number is >60%, you can and should 4bet bluff more liberally.
  • If this number is

4Betting Ranges (Polarised vs Depolarised/Merged)

polarised hand range means that you either have a very strong hand or a bluff. (A range of {QQ+, AK, A2s-A5s} is a prime example of a polarised hand range.)

merged hand range (or “depolarised hand range”) is one that includes fewer bluffs but usually aims to cover a much wider array of top-heavy hands.

When creating a 4bet hand range and strategy for any given hand, it’s important to consider both options and know which of these to use based on your opponent tendencies.

4Bet Sizing:

A typical 4bet size will be anywhere between 18 and 25 big blinds. How much exactly will depend on a number of factors:

  1. Stack Sizes
  2. Open-raise Size
  3. 3bet Size
  4. Position
  5. Number of players who called the open raise
  6. Number of players who called the 3bet

Usually, a 4bet should be about 2.25x the 3bet size. Therefore, assuming hero open-raised 3bb and villain 3bet to 10bb, a good amount to 4bet would be about 22.5bb total.

In Position vs. Out of Position

It’s not uncommon for players to simply double a 3bet amount when 4betting in position, and re-raise to 2.25x when out of position. This play can be an appropriate sizing strategy to use, too.

All-In Stack Sizes

If you’d ever considered 4betting to an amount equal to 1/3rd of your stack, it is usually better to just go all-in. Why?

  • You will almost always have to call a 5bet shove if your opponent goes all-in, because of the 2 to 1 pot odds you’ll be getting
  • You might gain more fold equity preflop by shoving, allowing you to realise all of your hand’s equity.
  • Post-flop stack sizes would be very awkward if your opponent just calls your 4bet.

Accounting for Additional Callers

Typically, you should factor in the amount of an additional caller to your 2.25x 4bet sizing by adding in slightly more than 2.25x to account for this. Sometimes, though, the 3bettor’s sizing may already include this, so you can make a standard-sized 4bet, depending on whether you’re in, or out, of position.

4Bet Sizings: Bluff vs Value

Some players 4bet to a sizing that they would never make if they were bluffing. As a result, they become very easy to play against when they re-re-raise because they only have strong value hands. Ensure that you always pick a bet and/or raising sizing that would be conducive to if you were bluffing in the same spot. This strategy will help you conceal your hand strength and keep your opponents guessing as to whether you actually have the goods.

Relative Stack Sizes

Always consider relative stack sizes into consideration, both regarding post-flop play (stack-to-pot ratio) and for 4bet sizing considerations. If you’re 200bb to 300bb deep, you can deny more equity (implied odds) by 4betting to a larger bet size than usual, for example.


4Betting: Bluff Candidates

4bet bluffing is going to be most effective versus (1) LAG players who 3bet wide ranges; and (2) when the original raiser and /or 3bettor are both in later positions at the table and will subsequently have wider ranges than usual.

In terms of what hands are good bluff candidates, three primary factors should be taken into consideration:

  1. Blockers: By holding an Ace, for example, you “block” the number of combos of strong hands (like AA and AK) that your opponent could have: 6 combos of AA is then reduced to 3, while 16 combos of AK is reduced to 12.
  1. Importance of Equity Realisation: This factor comes down to the post-flop playability of your hand. For example, 87s will do much better than A8s for playability and finding good turn/river cards to barrel with.
  1. Board Coverage: In certain 4bet ranges, including some suited connectors like the 87s help substantially with board coverage. If you’re only 4betting QQ+, AK, and A2s-A5s, for instance, and the board comes 7-8-9 rainbow, cbetting and getting raised can put you in a tight spot because your range never connects with this board,

Baby suited aces (i.e. A2s to A5s) often do well as 4bet bluff candidates because they can maintain decent equity versus a calling range. They also have decent post-flop playability, with the ability to make top pair, wheel straights, and nut flushes.

Additionally, as mentioned, they block strong AA and AK combos that you don’t want your opponent to have.

In EP situations, AQo can be an excellent bluff candidate; it’s too strong to fold, yet often too weak to just call. Additionally, it also blocks Aces and AK and will usually retain good equity vs a 3bet/calling range, which might contain 99-JJ.

4Betting: Frequency-Based Situations vs Concrete Ranges

Poker solvers often advocate making frequency-based decisions when playing, rather than using a solid “play this hand this way 100% of the time” methodology.

For example, in one spot, perhaps you 4bet pocket Aces 80% of the time and call with them 20% of the time.

This play can be advantageous because it can better strengthen your range when you just call a 3bet, and it will subsequently make you more difficult to play against overall.

The Cold 4Bet

Because you have no previous money invested in the pot, the cold 4bet is a powerful tool to add to your arsenal of plays.

It will usually appear extremely strong and thus has great potential of getting folds if your opponent is raising overly light.

4Betting vs Cold Calling 3bets

Poker solvers advocate that in a 3bet pot, if the action has come to you in the blinds, you should never cold call and always come in for a cold 4bet if you choose to enter the pot.

In certain situations, specifically against weak opponents who are potentially deep-stacked and have very exploitable tendencies, cold calling a 3bet (usually in position) can possibly be a +EV play.

However, in general, cold calling a 3bet should generally be avoided, for a few reasons:

  1. Your range usually becomes transparent (something along the lines of AJs, AQ, 99-JJ), as you would typically cold 4bet your strongest hands while folding your weaker ones.

  2. You’re giving the original raiser great odds to come along if you cold call the 3bet, which will subsequently reduce your equity in the pot.

  3. You also open yourself up to getting re-squeezed by a player left to act behind you or the original raiser, if you only cold call.

  1. You can only win post-flop by cold calling, as you have no preflop fold-equity by means of a 4bet.

4Betting: Online Statistics to Use

When playing poker online, some common HUD stats to use and/or note to assist you in realising how you should construct effective 4bet ranges are:

  • Fold to 4bet after 3bet
  • 4bet %
  • 3bet %
  • 3bet % (by position)
  • 3bet % (vs. position)
  • Fold to Cbet in 4Bet Pots

Playing Versus a 4bettor

If you get 4bet preflop after 3betting, keep in mind the great odds you’re getting to call – often close to about 3 or 3.5 to 1, meaning you’ll need around 25% to 30% equity against villain’s 4betting range to profitably call.

As such, this means you should be willing to see a flop fairly often, getting such great odds. But don’t hesitate to abandon the hand post-flop, if you miss or flop poorly.

Postflop Strategy: 4Bet Pots

Keep in mind that this section will be more applicable to cash games, as post-flop play will become more evident in deeper-stacked situations.

  • Capped vs Uncapped Ranges: As the preflop 4bettor, you will often have an uncapped range, consisting of all of the strongest hands, like QQ+ and AK. When your opponent only calls your 4bet, he likely doesn’t have these same holdings in his range, as he’s more likely to 5bet or go all-in with these hands preflop. As such, you can often attack A-high and K-high boards slightly more liberally (even with small bet sizes), as these will generally do better for your range than it will for villains (as it gives you more nutted combinations of hands than villain can have in his range).
  • Way-Ahead / Way-Behind Situations: In these scenarios, such as having A5s on an A-4-2 board, it’s often better to go for a flop check. You’re crushing villain’s medium pair hands that can only improve with two outs; you have a re-draw to a wheel straight, and your opponent could already have you beat with a better ace. Additionally, if you bet and your opponent raises, you’re not often going to be happy about calling-off in this situation. Furthermore, if you bet flop and shove turn, you can’t be too happy if you’re opponent calls you off, in this spot also, as he will likely only be calling you here with better hands.
  • Cbet Sizings: Having small cbets with much of your 4bet range (i.e. 25% pot) will provide excellent equity denial and allow you to continue for a great price when you are bluffing. It is also advisable if you want to play turn/river situations with a bit more fold equity, as it will keep stack-to-pot ratios in good check for future streets.

Summary: General Tips for 4betting Like a Boss

In summary, keep in mind these tips to crush 4bet pots:

  • Ranges should never be fixed and always shift to accommodate the variables in play.

  • Always think about the 3bettors likely hand range, based on their position, player type, and stats.

  • Consider how many bluffs you should be including in your 4betting range, based both on villain’s “fold to 4bet” stats and how many value hands you’re adding to your 4bet range.

  • Consider how you should be making exploitative adjustments to your 4betting ranges.

  • Always remember the importance of bet sizings, stack sizes, post-flop stack-to-pot ratios, and whether you’re in position or out of position in the hand.

  • Often, cbetting small on certain board textures will be much more effective than betting large amounts and seemingly committing yourself to the hand/pot if you get shoved on, especially in 4bet pots.

  • Ensure that, in addition to post-flop notes on opponents, you also keep preflop notes on 3bet and 4bet hands that villains are including in their ranges. This information will undoubtedly come in handy in future scenarios.

Hopefully, this guide has helped shed some more light on playing in 4bet pots.

Good luck at the felts!


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Matthew Cluff is a poker player who specialises in 6-Max No Limit Hold’em games. He also periodically provides online poker content for various sites.