Category: Postflop

Continuation Betting means that the preflop raiser bets the flop.

This move has been widely popularized after Harrington wrote about it in Harrington on Hold ‘em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play.

Most players are making heavy use of it nowadays and are betting the flop as a routine if they where the preflop aggressor.

Five years ago when continuation bets were not as common they were very successful. Nowadays most players expects a continuation bet and does not view it as a sign of strength. This means you should be a bit more selective on when to c-bet.

Bet size for continuation bets are normally between 1/2 the size of the pot and the size of the whole pot.  In general you should bet more if the board is wet than when it is dry.

Good conditions for a c-bet bluff

  • Only one opponent – you should rarely c-bet bluff against two opponents and almost never against more opponents than two
  • You have position
  • The flop has hit your hand range better than opponents, read Flop Texture for more discussion on this
  • Opponent folds often to  c-bets

Bad conditions for a  c-bet bluff

  • Several opponents
  • Wet board
  • Calling station(s)
  • Against overly aggressive players
  • Against players who floats a lot

How to defend against  c-bets

If you have a good hand you can act accordingly and call or raise depending on ranges, opponent and board etc.  But how can you defend if you don’t have a hand that is likely to be better than opponents or with a good draw?

There are two main strategies:

Most of the time you should fold if you don’t have a good hand though.

In general Floating is the better option for defense if the board is dry and raising on the flop is better if the board is wet. Why?

Because when you float on a wet board and the turn is a blank it is a higher risk that the opponent will put you on a draw and fire a second bullet. But a raise on a wet board is scary because opponent needs to think not only about hands that are beating him now – but also on the scary cards that may come later.

Floating the flop means calling on the flop with a poor hand with the plan to bet on the turn if opponents check.

This works best under the following conditions:

  • You are heads up against one opponent
  • You have position
  • Opponent continuation bets too often on the flop, but too rarely on the turn
  • You have some equity in the hand if the bluff doesn’t work out (for example a gutshot draw or overcards)
  • The flop hits your hand range better than his and is not too wet. Best flops to float in general are rainbow flops with no high cards (particularly not aces) and not too connected.
  • Opponent is on a fairly tight range, otherwise he might catch a draw on the turn or hit something else.
  • Opponent has low WTSD (Went to Showdown) to make sure they are not check calling often on the turn
  • Our image is not overly loose / aggressive / tough

If the turn is hitting his range well you should consider abandoning the plan or at least wait for the river. For example if opponent has raised with 5 % range, the flop is 9 5 2 rainbow but the turn is an Ace. In this example opponent will have at least a pair 100 % of the time and a bluff is unlikely to succeed.

Defense against floating

Example:

We look at an example with a dry flop since those are most commonly floated.

You are playing $1-2 No and raise to $6 from MP. A single opponent calls on the button. You have played him before and knows that he is almost only cold calling with low to medium pocket pairs.

The flop is Td 6h 2c

So how should you proceed in this hand against an opponent who likes to float and is a good at it?

Most of the time your opponent will have a pair. He will probably call a flop bet most of the time, since the flop is not hitting your range well and he has at least a pair.

If you have two overcards, the best option might be to not bluff, just check and fold to a bet accepting the fact that your opponent is ahead of you most of the time.

If you have a big overpair, what to do then? Let’s say you bet on the flop, opponent calls. You bet turn and opponent raises? This will put you in a tricky spot, since you don’t want to let go of a pair of aces. But calling here and folding to all-in on the river does not feel good. And if you call here and call all-in on the river, you will in general give your opponent good implied odds for set-mining.

In this scenario the best defense is to check either on the flop or on the turn. This will make sure the pot does not get unreasonably big. If your strategy against this kind of opponent is to mostly check the flop with overcards it makes sense to check with aces here. If opponent bets you call the on the flop. If he continues to bet on turn and river, you can call him down without making the pot huge. If he checks the turn, you can bet the river most of the time to get value from his medium pairs – and most of the time call a raise. This way, by check calling him down the pot will become about $85 – or 42 big blinds. If he has a set you will have lost about 25 % of your stack – but that is not enough to give him proper implied odds to set-mine, considering that you will have overcards a lot of the time.

If opponent has a wider range it is usually best to c-bet this flop since it is unlikely to have hit him. If he calls now, he might have a weak pair. How to proceed now will be dependent on game-flow and opponent tendencies.

Understanding of  Flop Texture and Hand Reading abilities are probably the most important skills in Texas Hold’em.

Flop Texture refers to the nature of the cards on the board, how they fit together and how they fit to different ranges.

In this article we are using the term Dry board to refer to boards that offer few drawing possibilities and Wet boards to refer to boards offering a lot of drawing possibilities. Boards in between are neutral. Some players are using the term wet boards to refer to flops that are dangerous in relation to opponents range. Personally I don’t think this makes much sense since a flop than will be both wet and dry depending on whose perspective you are looking from. And you can’t say anything about it without information on which ranges the players are likely to have.

When evaluating the flop it helps by using some characteristics:

  • High cardedness
  • Pairedness
  • Garbage (no high card, limited drawing possibilities)
  • Suitedness
  • Connectedness

The last two are what makes flops draw heavy.  The first two and the absence of any of these characteristics makes boards have limited drawing possibilities.

In this discussion we will also look at how well suited different flops are for a continuation bet with a strong hand range (15 % of best cards) versus two different ranges; a drawing range consisting of mostly low to medium pairs and suited connectors and one-gappers and a range consisting mostly of low to medium pairs. Let’s call the first a drawing range and the second a pair range.

High cardedness

A 9 4

This flop offers no drawing possibilities. It hits a strong range hard – will have pair or better 65 % of the time.

Perfect to c-bet bluff on.

K 9 4

Hits a strong range well – will have a pair or better 60 % of the time.

Perfect to c-bet bluff on.

K Q 8

Hits a strong range very well – will have pair or better 77 % of the time.

Perfect to c-bet bluff on.

A K J

Hits a strong range completely – will have pair or better 100 % of the time.

Good to c-bet on.

Pairedness

J 8 8

A strong range will have pair or better 56 % of the time.

Good to c-bet bluff against drawing range. But you might get called quite a lot from the paired range, since they will know many players c-bet bluff on this flop. If you do bluff you should probably be prepared to fire a second and possibly a third barrel depending on opponent.

9 4 4

A strong  range will have pair or better 35 % of the time. The drawing range will have pair or better 55 % of the time.

Bad for c-bets against both ranges with the strong range in this example. However, a very strong range is good to c-bet with. For example a 5 % range will have a pair or better 50 % of the time and the rest of the time two overcards which might improve to become best hand.

Garbage

9 5 2

Strong range will have pair or better 37% of the time. Drawing range will have pair or better 66 % of the time.

Bad for c-betting. Opponent will have something more often than the strong range – and they know it does not hit the strong range well.

Suitedness