I've started playing one-table NLHE home games with a group of local players. About half of the players are stronger than I am. While I'm enjoying the challenge of playing with this group, I've noticed that my comfort level at the table when there are three players remaining is much lower than with any other number.
In our last tournament, once we were down to three players I realized I didn't have a good strategy to handle the table dynamics. To elaborate, the big stack and strongest player was to my left. The big stack was playing very aggressively while the short stack began to play super tight, apparently hoping that the big stack and I would battle it out and the short stack could back into second place. The short stack almost always folded the button leaving me with SB vs. BB decisions against the aggressive big stack player.
I initially got into several confrontations with the big-stack player and realized I was likely to bust out in third if I didn't back off and wait for chances to pick off the small stack.
The game then slowed to a crawl as I started to dump my SB to the big stack, unless dealt a strong starting hand, while trying to go after the small stack's BB when I had the button.
I've read numerous books on poker strategy, but don't recall anything in particular for three-handed play. Should I have continued with an aggressive / mixed strategy leading to confrontations against the big stack and strongest player? Are there any particular tips or guidance for three-handed play? I haven't felt this level of doubt and discomfort with four people or more at the table and very much enjoy HU play, but three-handed play left me in the dark.
I apologize if this is a silly nooby question, but I would appreciate any insights into the "mysteries" of three-handed play you could provide.