The ABCs of Continuation Betting
posted in Poker Strategy, SNG on 17 July 2017 by

I want to initiate some discussion on c-betting, so I decided to post some of my thoughts on c-bet, hopefully this will inspire some discussion on the topic.

Definition of c-bet

The following definition is taken from the FTR lingo: C-Bet/cBet/Continuation bet – To make a follow-up bet on a flop after you have raised pre-flop. e.g. Hero raises 4xbb with AK and the bb calls. Flop comes 2 6 9 rainbow, bb checks and Hero bets even though he didn’t improve his hand because he raised preflop.

I will refine it a bit: c-betting is betting the flop after you have raised preflop and got called, the flop did not improve your hand, and if it helped your opponent you are probably behind. So if you have AK and the flop is 2 6 9 rainbow and you bet it is a c-bet, if you have QQ and the flop is 2 6 9 rainbow it is not a c-bet but a value bet, because you assume you have the best hand.

General Thoughts

c-betting is not an automatic move when you raise and get called, while you should c-bet pretty often you should consider a lot of factors when deciding to c-bet.

While our goal in c-betting is to take the pot on the flop c-bets do not stand in a vaccum, when you c-bet you want to have a general idea of what you want to do for the rest of the hand in case you get called.

c-bets need to look like a value bet, so you want to c-bet exactly the same way you would bet an overpair or TPTK.

Factors to consider when deciding whether or not to c-bet:

There are tons of factors to consider whether or not to c-bet, I want to discuss the ones I think are most important. Of course all the factors are connected to each other, and you cannot take only one of them as a decision factor, I guess what I am trying to write is stuff that I think about when c-betting

Your Hand

The key question you need to ask yourself regarding your hand is what are my chances of improving to the best hand if I get called. With AK on a 962 rainbow board you have 6 outs to improve, but if you raised with 97o and the flop is KT3 if you get called you probably have 0% chance to improve to the best hand on the turn.

The better your chances of improving the more inclined you should be to c-bet

Number of opponents & Position

Number of opponents and position are critical factors when deciding whether or not to c-bet, I have grouped them together because they are very related to each other.

One opponent

Against one opponent you want to bet very often, pretty much regardless of position; of course having a position is a big advantage, but vs one opponent betting out of position is still usually a good move

Two opponents

When there is more then one opponent in the pot you should be much more careful with your c-bet, there are two main reasons for it – the obvious one is that there is a better chance somebody got a piece of the flop; the second reason is that the pot is bigger then it is when there is one opponent, which means that the size of your c-bet has to be bigger, which means that if you fold later in the hand you have taken a much more substantial hit to your stack.

Out of position – Betting vs 2 opponents out of position is usually not a good move, you need a lot of other factors to be very favorable in order to do it (i.e. tight opponents, good flop texture etc…) to do it, I rarely bet vs 2 opponents out of position.

Middle position – This is a tricky one, and I would say this is probably the hardest situation to decide whether or not to c-bet, other factors are critical here, as well as your table image.

Late position – Betting vs two opponents from late position is often a good move, when you have some of the other factors working for you. However I tend not to do it if both of my opponents are the blinds – blinds usually call wider then any other position, and if the SB called BB has pot odds to call with tons of hands, this means that it is very hard to put villains on hands. I am also very careful when c-betting vs a good player who can pick up this is a c-bet and come over the top. For a good player who spots a c-bet there is a lot more value in doing that when the pot is three way then two way, because the pot is much bigger.

More then two opponents

Unless you are the last to act don’t c-bet – you are losing money.

When you are last to act there is some value in c-betting. Most people play very straight forward in a multiway pot unless they have a monster. So if it is checked around to you there is a decent chance the flop missed everyone. Surprisingly you can often c-bet a bit less (in relative value to the pot) to pick up the pot, very often ½ pot bet will give you the pot.

Preflop action

Preflop action can help you determine the range of your opponents hands, some points to consider:

Limp-call: if someone limped and then called your raise his most likely holdings are low-mid PP and mid-high SC. If they check-called your flop on a non-drawy board look out for sets

Callers: A lot of time, especially in low-mid buy ins callers have a hand they would raise with if they open the action and cannot get themselves to fold to a raise – this includes hands like AJ, AT, KQ, KJ and pocket pairs

Blinds: They tend to call looser, especially BB in a multiway pot

Stack sizes

When c-betting you must consider your stack size and your opponent stack sizes, you need to figure out whether or not c-betting will commit you or villain to the pot. If c-betting will commit villain to the pot and it is heads up you want to consider putting them all in.

Regarding your stack – if the total of the PFR and the c-bet is more then 40% of your stack you will usually be committed to the pot, so if your c-bet gets called by only one opponent be willing to push the turn on a vanilla card. If you are not willing to put your entire stack then don’t c-bet

Flop texture

Flop texture is a very important factor to consider, you usually want to c-bets flops that are less likely to hit your opponents

2 or more mid-high card: If the flop have 2 or more cards in the K-9 area it is a bad flop to c-bet since a lot of the hands people call raises with fall in those categories

Flops with an A: If you are in late position repping the A with a c-bet is usually good, however if you get called you want to slow down

Paired flops: Paired flops are also good to c-bet, especially if the odd card is not connected to the pair. However if you get called on a c-bet here opponent usually have something and he is probably not going anyhere

Draw boards: boards like 952 with two to a suite are not bad to c-bet, however if you have position get called and the turn did not complete the draw be willing to fire another barrel. If villain has a 9 he usually will not check –call because it is too dangerous to give a free card, so if he called he may have a draw, so if he missed you can probably take it down with a bet on the turn.

Size of the c-bet

The size of the c-bet should fall in line with your value bets, so it should be about the size of your bet when you have TPTK.

Standard c-betting size is 60-80% of the pot. In early rounds tend to go for c-bets which are a bit higher then later rounds, because people call more loosely early.

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