What’s the most important strategy to learn in Texas Hold’em? There are many ways to skin a cat, but if you think about poker from a financial standpoint, you have more incentive to perform better as the pot gets larger (read our Texas Hold'em Betting Basics Guide). That means getting very good at playing in raised pots. When one player opens pre-flop and another player 3-bets, the pot is already getting pretty juicy. Throw in a 4-bet, and now the chips are really flying.

Besides the money itself, here’s one of the great things about playing in raised pots: Your decisions actually get easier the more raises people to make. Consider a 6-max game of no-limit Hold’em. If you open-raise from the cutoff and the big blind calls, that player could have quite a lot of different hands. But if the big blind 3-bets instead of calling, they might only have pocket Queens or better, Ace-King, Ace-Queen, or Ace-Jack suited. That’s a much smaller range of possible hands to deal with. The chances of you making a mistake here are much lower – if you know what you’re doing.
 

Knowing what Ranges to 3-bet/4-bet in Texas Hold'em

Poker strategy gets even easier when there’s a 4-bet involved. Let’s take the above scenario where you open-raise from the cutoff, but now it’s the small blind that raises, and the big blind comes in with a cold 4-bet. What hands are in the big blind’s range? Maybe just pocket Tens or better and Ace-King. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of how you should respond.

Once you get post-flop in these raised pots, you should also have an easier time figuring out what to do. Players who 3-bet (and 4-bet) almost always fire out a continuation bet on the flop, regardless of whether their hand improved or not. If the flop comes out low with lots of connected and suited cards, like Eight-Five-Four with two spades, that board probably doesn’t help your opponent much – giving you the opportunity to raise or check-raise as a bluff, for example.

At the same time, if the flop has an Ace or a King in it and not much drawing power, like Ace-Nine-Four rainbow, there’s a good chance your opponent improved, and you can fold where appropriate. Think about these 3-bet and 4-bet spots the next time you play poker at Bovada; this is where you’ll win or lose the most money in the end, so don’t let these opportunities pass you by.