Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bug's Poker Tip #17

Think Before You C-Bet

When we were the preflop aggressor in a hand, we're usually going to get checked to on any flop. If our opponent missed, he's probably going to check. If he hit, he's also going to check and let us lead, so he can call or check-raise. So should we "continuation bet" or not? Remember that we miss the flop on average 65% of the time. This means our opponents do, too. In other words, you should be c-betting quite a bit if you were the PF aggressor. But that doesn't mean you do so blindly. Like all betting we do in poker, there needs to be a damn good reason to put any chips into the pot. If you can't think of a damn good reason, don't bet. This really isn't rocket science, folks. The two primary reasons (as always!) for betting (and that includes c-bets) are: a) get better hands to fold; and/or b) get worse hands to call.  To help figure out your line, there are some significant factors to consider, including:
  • Number of Villains. How many villains are in the hand? The more there are, the less likely you should be to c-bet as a bluff. Fold equity drops quickly as the number of opponents in the hand increases.
  • Board Texture. What is villain's preflop range and how likely did this board hit that range? If his range hits hard, don't c-bet unless you have a strong hand yourself. It's all about %'s and equities.
  • Villain's Skill Level. The more skilled he is, the less likely he'll cooperate with your chosen line. If you're OOP and the villain pegs you as a high c-bettor, for instance, you may get floated and have to give up on a later street. Similarly, if he's a calling station, you may have little to any fold equity, so bluffing with air is probably -EV in the long run.
  • Villain's Stats. Specifically, what is his FvCB% stats? In other words, is he playing fit-or-fold? If he is, then c-bet away. If he's not, be careful.
  • Your Hand. Did you hit this board? If so, how hard? In other words, do you have a Value hand? Will your opponent think you're just c-betting pro forma, or will he put you on a Value hand and not pay you off?
Again, the name of the game in poker as always is to Think Before You Act. Ask yourself why you are planning to c-bet. By definition, an "I don't know" answer means you actually don't have a valid reason to continuation bet. Said another way: check, don't bet. 

All-in for now...


  1. On the 35% of the time that you connect with the flop, would you sometimes check to balance your range?

  2. Good question. I essentially never do range balancing*, but then again I play primarily at low stakes online($100NL and under). In these games, very few of the players are really thinking that deeply, and I might be out-leveling myself by doing so. I tend to play very ABC in these games; I bet my value hands for value, and my bluffs as bluffs. If/when I ever start playing at the higher stakes, against solid L-2 players, I think I have to start checking back some value hands on the flop to get action on later streets.

    I need to think more deeply about this in MTTs, too, as I see a lot more checking back flops by good players.

    *Although I will open some middle suited connectors in EP occasionally as a pseudo-range balance exercise if I'm at a table long enough.