re: Poker & 3-betting: The one part of my game I feel uncomfortable with
3 betting is a little trickier as it adds a new dimension to your pre-flop play.
First things first, you need to have your opponent(s) on a range of cards. You want to assign your 3-betting range to be ahead of most of your opponents betting range.
So let's say everyone at the table is playing ABC poker. You have KJ suited in the big blind. KJ suited is not a *bad* hand at all, but it's not a premium either.
UTG +1 raises 3.5xBB. Unless we think our opponent is likely to fold to a 3-bet with AJ, AQ, KQs, or pocket pairs less than 88, a 3-bet here is not going to be profitable. Most of our ABC villain's hand range is not folding to a 3-bet, so in this scenario you're going to the flop out of position with a questionable holding.
The Cutoff raises 2.5xBB. Unless we think our opponent is super tight, there's a whole lot of the opponent's range that we are ahead of here. Suited connectors, weak-ish Aces, weak broadway cards. How "loose" we think our opponent is dictates how often we should 3-bet with a marginal holding.
3-betting with a marginal holding is scary, but it's a necessary evil. You maximize your value by not playing out of position and getting pre-flop folds. You generally have a disguised hand when you do hit. So if you time that kind of stuff right, you are getting money in the long run.
But why 3-bet marginal holdings at all? Well, aside from the fact that doing it right is profitable, it also widens our 3-betting range. Now let's think about holding AA, KK, AK, or QQ. If our range is wider, then we start getting called off by worse holdings more often. And this is what we really want. We want to be holding AA and get 4-bet by AK, AQ, AJ, JJ, QQ. We want to get called by 88, JTs, Ax, etc. Because now we're inflating the pot when we are a favorite to win.
Being in position is a whole 'nother story. Here, when you're saying you're not comfortable 3-betting it's because you're not comfortable playing post flop. That just comes with playing more. Once you feel solid on your post flop play, 3-betting in position is almost too tempting.