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10 More Essential Hold'em Moves: The Cold Four-Bet
There’s no simple fix for becoming a winning poker player but there are a handful of simple, easy-to-execute poker moves that can make a world of difference to your bottom line.
By fine-tuning these tactics you’ll have more tools to put to work at the poker table. You’ll be able to better understand your opponents and how to manipulate them, and that will translate directly to money in your pocket.
We already wrote the book on the 10 Essential Texas Hold’em Moves and now we’re back to bring you 10 more.
Today we'll show you the cold four-bet, one of the strongest preflop lines you can take in Texas Hold'em. Used either as a bluff or for value, cold four-betting will make your opponents sit up and take notice, and then usually fold.
But since it's a four-bet it's not going to be cheap so we're here to show you the ins and outs of cold four-betting profitably.
The What: Cold four-betting refers to four-betting without having already put money into the pot. For example: The player under-the-gun raises, the cut-off three-bets and you cold four-bet from the button.
The Why: Because you're coming into the pot cold, with no money invested, a cold four-bet indicates very strong cards and will usually fold out anything but the most premium starting hands.
The Where: Cold four-betting is only done before the flop and just like the vast majority of poker moves it works best when you're in position. And since you need a raise and a re-raise in front of you, you'll find yourself cold four-betting from late position and the blinds most often.
The When: Cold four-betting works in cash games and tournaments but since you're putting in a fourth bet it doesn't work when you're shortstacked.
Cold Four-Betting the Right Way
If you're playing low-stakes cash games and tournaments chances are you're not seeing a lot of three-bets, let alone four bets.
And when you do see someone putting in a re-re-raise before the flop it's with pocket aces or kings. That means when you cold four-bet it's going to get the table's attention.
Cold four-betting is such a strong line preflop it makes for a very effective bluffing tool. But on the flip side, when you cold four-bet with pocket aces you're only going to get action from the very best hands.
And since you'll have to commit 20 big blinds or more to the raise, cold four-betting willy-nilly can be a huge leak.
In this article we're going to break down the mechanics of the cold four-bet, show you how to use it as a bluff and for value, and then give you a quick lesson on balancing your cold four-bet range.
Cold Four-Betting as a Bluff
In order to cold four-bet bluff profitably you need to find spots where it's likely the raiser and re-raiser in front of you are playing a wide range of hands and are likely to fold to another raise.
The two biggest factors in determining this are how loose/aggressive those players are and the positions from which they are raising and re-raising.
You should always be aware of how many hands your opponents are playing, and whether they're raising and re-raising more often than calling.
Look for players who are open-raising and three-betting a lot and go after them.
Similarly, most players will raise and re-raise with a wider range of hands when they're in late position.
There's a big difference between a raise and a re-raise from early position, compared to a raise from the cut-off and a re-raise from the button.
When you're cold four-bet bluffing always try to do it against players raising and re-raising from late position.
Also consider cold four-bet bluffing when you have an ace in your hand since it's less likely for your opponent to have aces or A-K.
Cold Four-Betting for Value
When cold four-betting for value look for the opposite conditions compared to when you're bluffing.
Since you're raising with what you believe is the best hand you want to do it against players who will call with worse.
Loose/passive calling stations are the best players to target since they'll rarely fold and will pay you off when they catch a piece of the flop.
While just flat-calling a three-bet when you've got a big hand like pocket aces or kings can be appealing, for beginners it's far better to raise and play a bigger pot against just one opponent.
You're always going to need a big hand to be cold four-betting for value but just like when you're bluffing, things change depending on what position your opponents are raising from.
At most tables you shouldn't be cold four-betting pocket jacks for value against a raise and a re-raise from early position, but it could be the right move against two loose, late-position raisers.
Balancing Your Cold Four-Bet Range
When you see an amateur cold four-bet it's safe to assume he has an absolute monster. That's because he only ever does it with pocket aces or kings.
That is to say his cold four-bet range is not balanced.
By mixing in bluffs you'll make yourself less predictable, and you'll get paid off more often when you do it with pocket aces.
Look for the loose, late-position raisers we described above and get creative with a few cold four-bet bluffs.
Most of the time you'll win the pot then and there, but when you do get five-bet shoved on and show 6♦ 7♦ you'll make your opponent think twice about folding when you do it with aces.
Cold Four-Betting in Tournaments
Cold four-betting as a bluff is particularly useful in tournaments - especially with a 25-big-blind stack.
These days players raise and re-raise a very wide range of hands. By cold-four betting you can increase your stack in a big way even if you don't pick up a big hand.
When you're playing deep-stacked, cold-four betting as a bluff is a great way to balance your four-betting range.
Cold 4-Bet Key Takeaways:
- Cold 4-betting works best against loose aggressive opponents raising a really wide range of hands.
- The more solid your table image, the more credit your opponents will give your four-bet
- To be effective as a bluff your four-bet has to be big enough to push your opponents out of the hand; usually 25 big blinds is about right.
Watch the full video below to see how it's done:
Cold Four-Betting in Action
Cold four-betting as a bluff is a high-risk maneuver and as you'll see in the clip below, even if you pick the perfect spot it can still blow up in your face.
In this hand from the WSOP Simon Muenz executes a great cold four-bet shove with 6♥ 7♥. It was a move that should have worked but somehow Lex Veldhuis figures it out and makes the right call.
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