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13/08/2007 No. 37
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Aug 13, 2007

In comedy, they have a famous "Rule of Three". Some great mind must have calculated that three examples of something ludicrous, or three repetitions of a running joke, is the perfect equation for the biggest laughs. Two is not enough to hit the peak; four is milking it.

There is also a Rule of Three in poker: beware the third bet. Before the flop, the first raise doesn't tell you much. From a tight player it means a pair or two big cards; from a looser player it could also mean suited connectors or a decent flush draw; from a crazy player it could be anything.

A further raise from a second opponent could mean a real hand trying to flush out weaker opposition, a funny hand trying to disguise itself, or a clever player disbelieving the first bet. But if a third raise comes in from another player again, that is supposed to be aces or kings. And it usually is.

The Rule of Three also applies after cards. Recently, I saw Humberto Brenes play a tournament hand in which he had raised pre-flop and got one caller. The caller bet out 1,500 on a flop of A63 (no flush draw). Humberto raised to 5,000. The caller made the key third bet: all in for 23,000. This bet is supposed to mean a set. Brenes made (in my opinion) a very bad call with AK, and his opponent rolled over three sixes.

As in all poker situations, there is no absolute knowledge. The strongest players can put in a third bet with no hand, if they sense any uncertainty, especially in tournaments. But that is rare and high-level play. A third bet is far more often a big favourite than it is no hand - meaning that if you always believe the third bet, you will save more money than you will lose.

Your can read more byAnthony Holden at his website

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