5-Betting in No-Limit Hold’em

In 100-big blind no-limit hold’em games, most advanced pre-flop strategy revolves around 3-betting, 4-betting and 5-betting. It’s a difficult subject with a lot of math involved, and there aren’t many sources that explain advanced pre-flop strategy in a way that is easy to understand. We’re going to do just that, and we’re going to use some basic math to show you exactly why what we are showing you is a good way to play.

5-Betting - Scenario

Let’s assume that it folds to a button player who raises to 3 times the big blind, you 3-bet to 11 times the big blind, your opponent 4-bets to 25 times the big blind and you shove for the whole 100 times the big blind. When you go all-in, your opponent is calling 75 times the big blind with 126.5 times the big blind in the pot. Before you account for the rake, your opponent is only going to need about 37 percent equity to make the call. To put this into perspective, if you are only 5-betting with (AK, QQ+), it’s an easy fold if your opponent has AQ (25.5% equity) or JJ (36.2% equity). This means that your opponent is only going to be stacking off with (AK, QQ), and you’re going to be losing money to the rake in the long run with your value 3-betting range.

If you want an observant opponent to open up and starting calling your 5-bets with more hands, then you’re going to have to 5-bet bluff sometimes. One of the biggest reasons that players don’t 5-bet bluff is that they are scared of getting a lot of money in with the worst hand. However, this is the wrong way to think about it. Instead, you should think about making your opponents make bad decisions, and the way to do that is to get them to call whenever they should fold or vice versa.

If you want to get your opponents to call your 5-bets with a wider range, then you’re going to have to let them see you shove with hands that they perceive to be trash sometimes. However, the reality of the situation is that you aren’t going to be going all-in with bad hands often enough for them to be correct in stacking off with a much wider range of hands. Let’s say that your opponents see you go all-in with ATs or KJs a couple of times and start wondering if they should call with AQo. If you add both ATs and KJs to your 5-betting range, then your opponent will only have 33.4% equity on a call. They still can’t call, but they will try to some non-zero percentage of the time since they want to catch you with a worse hand. This is how you get them to call off with a wider range of hands without giving away money.

On the other hand, your opponent will now have 40.8 percent equity on a call with JJ, and this means that they will be able to barely make a correct call if they decide they want to stack off with JJ. One way to get around with this is to only stack off with hands like ATs or KJs some percent of the time. For example, you could decide to only stack off with the spades and clubs versions of these hands. This will give the illusion that you are stacking off with a wider range of hands and get the reaction that you are looking for without allowing your opponent to have barely-profitable calling chances with JJ.

To learn even more betting strategies for Texas Hold’em, take a look at another of our in-depth articles!