Another 1/2 drunk + hungover rant!
I meant to get this done by the time the article contest closed, but I R slow, so here it is. Nick; if you're going to put this in the articles section (if it's worthy), of course feel free to delete this thread or w/e.
I've just finished reading HoH for the Nth time, so please excuse me if I subconsciously regurgitated anything from the book. As usual, any opinions/arguments/comments/criticism/corrections are very welcome.
A continuation bet, by definition, is a post-flop bet made by the pre-flop raiser on a flop which hasn't improved his hand (ie, paired his hole cards or better). We could argue that any post-flop bet made by the pre-flop raiser could be called a c-bet, but for the sake of simplicity and keeping things clear, we'll stick to the definition above.
So how often should we be throwing out c-bets? Well there's no clear-cut answer to that, but by taking into account the following factors before making a c-bet we can ensure that we pick the best spots possible.
The texture of the flop is something you must consider before throwing out a c-bet. The ideal flop for a continuation bet would be one which has most likely missed your opponent(s). In general, people tend to play pocket pairs, big connectors (often suited), and most aces for raises preflop, so the flop which has most likely missed them would be a low, uncoordinated rainbow flop. Like 5c2h9d for example. The worst flop for a c-bet would be one that is suited, connected and contains all high cards; something like QhJhTh.
The texture of the flop also defines how strong your hand is, and often times you'll have missed the flop but will have actually improved your hand's chances of winning. For example, you raise pre-flop with AhKh, get a single caller and are checked to on a flop of 6h9h2c. Although we haven't moved up the hand rankings
ladder, we've picked up tons of equity with the nut flush draw and two overcards. We should definitely throw out a c-bet here, and we'll definitely call a check-raise should villain decide to do so. AKh has so much equity on a flop of that texture that it's rarely correct to fold a draw that big.
Another very important factor to consider is the number of players who are still in the hand. A single opponent will miss the flop roughly 2/3 of the time, and although we will too, by being the aggressor pre and post-flop we can take down a lot of pots by representing a bigger hand than what we really hold. As we increase the number of opponents seeing a flop, the chances of them collectively missing the flop decrease, as does our chance of taking down the pot with a c-bet. The ideal number of opponents to c-bet into is one. Versus two opponents, our c-bet will still win frequently enough to make it a profitable play. As we reach three or more opponents, it starts to become a losing play unless we find ourselves in a very favourable situation (e.g., uncoordinated flop vs. weak-tight players who fold without trips or better).
Your opponents styles should also be something you factor in your decision of whether or not to c-bet. If your opponents are loose-passive, they'll be more likely to hold on to a draw or even a weak bottom pair or the like. A loose-aggressive opponent might even raise your bet with absolutely nothing, knowing that you're tossing out a standard c-bet with just overcards and that you can't call his bet. If your c-bet gets called or raised by a looser player, you'll have to make some tough judgment calls as to whether they're doing this with something that has you beat, if they're bluffing
at you or if they're even drawing. It gets much simpler when we play against tighter players who stick to A-B-C poker. Generally, when they call or raise your c-bet, they will be holding something that has you beat, and you can safely fold your overcards knowing that you're probably behind.
Now that we know when to bet, we have to figure out how much to bet. Consider betting the full pot. We lay our opponent 2:1, which is plenty enough to shut out any draws, and we only need the bet to work half the time for us to break even. The problem with betting the full pot, however, is the fact that we lose too much when we do run into a hand. So we should be betting smaller...how about a quarter the pot? Well we now have solved the problem of losing too much when we run into a hand, and we will only need the bet to work one in four times, but now we're laying our opponent 4:1 on his draw which is plenty to call with a straight draw or flush draw.
A half-pot bet is the perfect size for a c-bet, and here's why: We lay our opponent 3:1, just enough to make drawing hands pay enough to draw 'incorrectly', but still small enough not to be too costly long-term. We also only need to win one in three times which is very acceptable.
Even though a half-pot bet is the ideal size for a c-bet, we can't make that bet all the time. If we were to make our continuation bets exactly half the pot every time, and bet three quarters the pot or larger when we actually do hit a flop, it should be extremely easy for other players to pick up on that and use it against us. We need to vary our c-bets and our actual value bets so that we disguise them and make sure our betting patterns aren't too easily recognizable to our opponents.
Keep in mind that others often don't make these adjustments, and you can use their betting patterns to your advantage.
As is all poker strategy
, this guide is very general and should by no means be followed religiously. Every hand is unique and this guide should only serve as a reference for different factors that one needs to consider before making a c-bet.
Hope this helps!