Continuation Bet

Should you abuse of continuation bet (C-bet)?

The continuation bet (C-Bet) was revealed by Dolye Brunson in 1978….and since then has become a really standard move. How should you use a move created at a time when a lot of current poker professionals were not born. Should you abuse of C-bets like Barry Greenstein who displays a C-bet rate close to 100%?

A C-bet is a bluff (or semi-bluff). You zsuceeded representing some strength pre-flop but do not like the flop you see. But maybe your opponent(s) do not like it either and you intend to use this strength post-flop in a semi-bluff approach. And you are right in doing so since 68% of the time your opponent will not improve his hand on the flop. Except that if it was that easy, we would all be rich. Several parameters need to be taken into account :

  • First, you need to have raised preflop and to have been the last player to raise (otherwise you loose the advantage of attacking)
  • You need to have as few opponents as possible (each additional opponent decreases your chances to win the pot by 15%)
  • You will meet greater success if you bet postflop after a check from your opponent (rather than raising first). With 1 opponent only post flop you have 40% of winning the pot if you raise 1st and 60% if you open after a check from your opponent.
  • Most importantly you need to have profiled your opponent : against a beginner C-betting light (200 in a 1200 pot) is more efficient and more profitable, against a good player you need to calibrate your raise and make sure of showing some consistency based on what has happened at the table
  • But you need obviously to take also the flop (and its texture) into consideration : some are hostiles other will help you. The worst flops to place a C-bet are highly connected ones offering multiple draws options, then you have the arid ones (8-5-2 rainbow) because you will not acquire much credibility on those, flops not offering flush draws options are starting to be a good option, flops including no connectivity and a high card are even better (eg K-8-3) because if your C-bet gets paid you are almost certain that your opponent holds a decent hand, flop including a pair are even more favorable
  • What should be the size of your C-bet? No clearcut anwser. 50% of the pot according to Harrington (which means that you need to win every 3 attempts to break even).
  • In order to avoid being too easy to read you should vary your bet amounts between 50% and 70%
  • Of course you will find in your way some agressive players who will hunt for C-betters, float on the flop and attack you strongly on the turn. To fight them back you can try the  »delayed continuation bet » : check on the flop and bet on the turn and especially on scary boards. It will be very difficult for your opponent to believe you have  »air » and if he was on a straight or flush draw (with only 1 card remaining on the river) he will be less likely to call. Very few drawing attempts remain interesting at the turn.

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