Continuation Betting Strategy in Poker (or C bet)
Table of content:
- What does a continuation bet mean?
- Purpose of a continuation bet
- When must a player c-bet?
- Optimal conditions for applying the c-bet
- When must the player avoid a c-bet?
- How much should you put at stake in a c-bet?
- Double and triple barrelling
- Countering a continuation bet
- Just to wrap it all up
Poker is fraught with mind games and the continuation bet is one of the best tools in a poker player’s arsenal to play this game. It provides him or her a chance to trick the opponents into cursing their luck, while the truth of the matter is that the player taking the continuation bet barely has his luck playing in his favour. Endowed with its fair share of risk, the continuation bet is a double-edged sword – one that must be employed with great care and stratagem. Read on to know more about this interesting tool used by professional poker players.
A continuation bet, or a c-bet, is when the player follows up the pre-flop raise with a bet on the flop. It is a mini bluff encashing the fold equity that has been gained by the player during pre-flop. It does not matter if the player hits the flop or not, but it is more about the player taking the advantage of the initiative by being the preflop and the flop aggressor. This oftentimes gets the opponent to fold or forfeit the pot due to the aggressive stance taken by the player. These bets are quite successful as most poker hands miss the flop most of the time.
The goal is to win the pot immediately and bag all of the dead money in the pot, by attacking the opponent regardless of the holding of the player.
On a micro level the motivation to c-bet could be for protection, value or for bluffing. In case it is for bluffing, then it makes sense to employ the c-bet if you can ensure that the opponent can fold better hands that yours. Value betting is when you get a player with a worse hand to fold.
In the face of continued aggression from a player, most weak players will fold adding value to the player with all the dead money in the pot. But mindless aggression will alert the opponents about your façade and they are likely to catch you in the act. Repeated acts in the same game leaves a wide gap for exploitation by other players.
The odds have been mathematically calculated to be as follows –
· Winning the pot with a c-bet is almost 100% when heads up.
· Winning the pot with a c-bet is 50% when against two players.
· Winning the pot with a c-bet is 25% when against three players.
· If there are four or more players, then it is better to hit the flop before risking this as a check is highly probable.
a. Boards with aces and kings
These are ideal to place a c-bet as most opponents are going to play with the belief that they have hit the preflop raiser.
b. Flops that are unlikely to help the opponent
These are ideal for c-betting as he is aware of his weaknesses and would rather fold than risk it.
· If there is a high probability that the opponents on the table will call your cards, then avoid the c-bet. If your opponent hits the flop, he/ she is more likely to call. Always remember your opponent’s and your perceived range before resorting to a continuation bet.
· If the flop comes down with umpteen numbers of draws, it is better for the player to check rather than use the c-bet.
· If you are up against a calling station, do not use the c-bet, as a thumb rule.
· If you are not in position, they avoid placing a continuation bet.
· If your pre-flop raise is called in position by a tricky opponent, you should avoid continuation bets.
· With more the number of opponents on the table, the likelihood of getting checked is higher. Therefore, it is best to avoid continuation betting in such a circumstance.
The optimal amount to place the c-bet at depends on each game. But it must be high enough to get the opponent to fold but low enough to prevent the player from putting too many chips at stake. Usually, the c-bets and value bets are of the same quantum, as variations in the same might give away the player’s position to his/ her opponents.
Experts opine that the ideal quantum would be two third of the pot flop bet due to three main reasons –
a. It is economical and would not result in any information leak;
b. It will be enough to start building the pot when you have a really good hand;
c. It will be more than enough to collect the dead money.
Some of the considerations that have to be factored in are – the stack size, opponent’s playing tendencies, and one’s own table image, while deciding the amount to be placed as the continuation bet.
After one c-bets, one may follow it up in the turn or river with more bets. This is known as double or triple barrel bluff. To illustrate, if you raise the pre-flop, got one caller and bet the flop, turn and river, with your opponent calling each time, that would be a triple barrel. This strategy, however, is unsuitable for weak games.
Reverse engineering is one of the ways in which a player can decide whether he is being played by his opponent. The following questions must be raised in order to ascertain that –
a. Does he/ she regularly c-bet? If so, does his/ her bet warrant a call from your side? Does your hand permit you to take that call?
b. Is your opponent trying to steal the pot? If so, should you raise, call, or fold?
Observe carefully to understand your opponent’s play and motives. Try to discern patterns in their play and make decisions based on the information gathered.
It is an excellent opportunity, as a preflop raiser, to use a continuation bet and collect the dead money that your opponent misses. But do so with utmost caution and choose the games that you would like to apply this wisely.
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