What is a ‘Three-Bet’?
A ‘three-bet’ is a raise made on top of another, essentially valued at three times the minimum bet. The term appears most often in fixed limit casino games, but it can also appear in no limit games where there is still an expected betting structure. The three-bet is a form of re-raise – often applied following the big blind and a raise, making it the ‘third raise’.
In poker, players have opportunities to bet early in the game, and it is common to see players raising and re-raising bets right from the opening round. In a game with a series of raises, subsequent raises after the first are known as ‘re-raises’, and they can occur as often as the players choose before all call or fold on a turn. Even before the flop or prior to the draw, poker pots can run to very high totals when players are raising often.
A ‘three-bet’ is a form of re-raise which is usually made before the flop, and which usually comes as the third action in the round. The big blind is the first bet – a forced bet which must be made by the player in the relevant position. The small blind tends to follow, but some games skip this turn and move straight to the next player to make the opener. Whether in a second blind position or simply opening the round, this second player might choose to raise and bet double the blind on their turn.
This creates the opportunity for the three-bet – a re-raise on top of that previous raise, rather than choosing to call. The play also applies in later stages – any third bet or any bet valued at triple the minimum might be called a ‘three-bet’ – but it is most associated with the opening stages of the game.