Take a peek behind the curtains of our PRO membership this week with excerpts from two of our most popular videos on continuation betting. This episode is pure value and you will use the information in every session you play. First, Adam Jones debunks some common c-betting myths that could be costing you chips. Then, Mike Gano goes over six specific reasons why you might want to delay a c-bet.
C-Bets – Adam Jones
Myth: Always c-bet dry boards. This is one that probably originated sometime back in 2006 or 2008, which is the board texture comes, K72 rainbow after we open raise pre-flop. We should just always c-bet with any two cards. And like most of the myths that we’ll look at there is some theoretical basis to this. The idea is that our opponent has less combinations of strong hands on a dry texture and hence he’s going to be folding more frequently.
At least he probably would have been folding more frequently back in 2006 but players just don’t automatically fold a king seven two rainbow board just because they miss these days. If they have some kind of ace high type of holding, or they have some kind of backdoor straight or backdoor flush draw combo, they’re usually going to be floating the flop.
So what happens now if we decide we’re going to just bet any two cards on a king seven two rainbow board? Well, our opponent is going to float us a decent percentage. We’re going to get to the turn, which such an abnormally large range that we’re going to have a really difficult time firing a high frequency of second barrels on the turn. Our opponent is just going to be able to float very effectively against us on the flop.
He knows that we’re going to be checking the turn with a high frequency and he’s very likely going to be able to steal the pot on the turn. Of course, we could just try and keep on double barreling with very, very wide range but this is going to leave other vulnerabilities in that game. We’re going to be vulnerable to flop raises, flop floats. We’re going to be vulnerable to turn floats, double floats and turn raises as well. Our range is just unsupportably wide in this flop.
So the way we should approach dry textures is probably with a slightly more balanced approach by default. Obviously we’re not trying to play balanced poker here, that’s not the idea, but against an unknown we don’t just want to go around randomly c-betting garbage hands just because the board texture is king high and dry.
We’re looking for things that have some kind of backdoor potential. This is probably one of the most important factors in deciding whether to c-bet and that is, do we have backdoor potential? Can we barrel a number of turn and river cards? So always c-bet dry boards – probably not. We should c-bet dry boards if we have some kind of connection in terms of backdoor potential.
Now we can flip this particular myth on it’s head. Sometimes players have a tendency to float way too wide on dry boards these days as an adjustment to a belief regarding the first myth here. So the idea is players tend to not fold on king seven two rainbow boards, perhaps take it the other way because they believe that players are c-betting these dry boards with their entire range. Well, most players are not in today’s games. Again, perhaps they were back in 2006, but right now players are taking a little bit more of a balanced approach to board textures. They won’t just fire a garbage hand simply based on the texture of the board.
Also, still in relation to the first one here, players have the belief that if we see a bet super aggressive on dry boards because our opponent doesn’t connect very well with them, then we should play a lot more straight forwardly on wet boards because our opponent because our opponent nearly always has something.
It doesn’t take a lot of database analysis work to completely disprove this theory. If you open something like Holdem Manager 2 or PokerTracker 4, you’ll see that there’s a stat we can use, which is known as c-bet success frequency. Basically, it tells us how often does our flop c-bet work, and by work we mean how often does our opponent fold. So what we can obviously do is we can filter the different board textures and see what kind of folds we get on these board textures.
This is something that will probably take you about 10 minutes. You simply plug in a dry board texture into your tracking software and have a look at your flop c-bet success frequency. So what do you think it would be if you could estimate how often do you think that your flop c-bets works on a king seven two rainbow board in today’s games? What would you estimate? This is a question I’ve asked to many people and surprisingly many players, or perhaps not surprisingly, many players say, “Well it’s a dry board, we expect to get folds. We’re familiar with this 2006 principal, always c-bet dry boards. We’ll probably get around 70% folds on a dry texture.” So I usually say, “Okay. How many folds do you think you will get on a drawy texture in that case?”
So what would you say? So again surprisingly or perhaps not surprisingly players expect to never get any folds on drawy textures. They’ll say, “Well there’s so many draws you can have, we’ll probably maybe get about 10% folds here so it’s very good for us to block the dry texture with any two cards but the drawy texture we basically just play for value.” Well after doing a little bit of filtering on Holdem Manager 2 or PokerTracker 4, you’ll find that there is hardly any difference between the folding frequency that you get on a wet board texture and a dry board texture and in both scenarios it’s going to be somewhere around the 40% mark. So we’ll get around 40% folds on a dry texture and about 40% folds on a drawy texture.
Now we’re not necessarily saying these are identical. You may find that there is a difference between dry textures and drawy textures. You may find for example that you get 39% folds on a drawy texture and you get 43% folds on a dry texture. There may be a slight difference, but that difference is no where near as big as the average player would estimate. Based on the estimates we’ve just discussed, players are saying that there is a 60% difference, i.e. the difference between 10% folds and 70% folds whereas in truth, the difference between a c-bet success on a dry texture and a drawy texture, we’re talking about a few percent here.
So what that should tell us is, if we always bluff on the dry textures, we are c-bet bluffing way too much. If we never bluff on the drawy textures, then we’re not bluffing anywhere near enough. So basically most players the adjustment they’re going to need to make, is they’re going to need to bluff a lot more on the drawy textures and they’re going to have to bluff a lot less on the dry textures.
Also check out our ‘Plug Your 100% C-Betting Leak‘ podcast with Doug Hull
Delayed C-Bets – Mike Gano
We’re going to talk about first quickly the types of delayed c-bets. When and why we do it. I’ll give you six reasons. First and perhaps most commonly is going to be pot control. This is easing when you’re in position because you can check back and guarantee that you’re limiting to just two streets, two rounds of betting. Or, if you’re out of position you can still check and hope that your opponent checks back, but you may still be facing three streets if he decides to bet.
Second reason could potentially be because you want to induce your opponent. Again, in or out of position, all of these in fact you can do in or out of position. They just have different ramifications. But if you’re in position you might check back for example because you’re up against a very aggressive opponent and you want him to fire into you on the turn and river.
Third, we might be slow playing. Perhaps you’re crushing the board. You flop quads or a boat, in which case it may make sense to check. Again, this is somewhat similar to inducing, but it’s specifically because we’ve made it so unlikely that our opponent actually has a hand because we’ve got so many of say the possible top pairs covered.
A fourth reason might be for information. You might be considering a c-bet, because again you’ve got top pair bottom kicker and you know you can get some value, but you’ve got a particular guy that you know only bets when he has it. You’ve got some read on that. So it might make sense to instead check it to him. If he bets the flop, then you know he might have something. So perhaps you check call, you check the turn if he bets again. If you have a good enough read sometimes you can check fold.
So part of it could be that when you check it to your opponent whether he bets or not could give you a ton of information. Maybe, and I’ve gotten this read, maybe that you’ve got what I call an opposite read on a player. Where he’s of the fishier variety and might bet when he has nothing and check when he has something. You’ve been seeing him do that all night. So if he’s someone like this, sure it’s the same thing. You might check it to him for information but in that case his bet tells you that he doesn’t have anything.
Fifth is a specific read and number four I was just talking about specific reads, but what I mean here and specific read was shorter to type than what I also mean, is a specific read that you’re opponent folds to delayed c-bets. So this is really something where you’ve got that stat in your HUD and you know that he may not fold to c-bets but he does fold to delayed c-bets and I’d say you’re more likely to get this read on a better player. A more basic player when you check it to him is just going to stab a lot. He’s going to think you checked, you’re weak, you’re going to stab.
A more sophisticated player is going to look at the board, think about your range based on your position and then say, “Wait a second. If you’re checking here on this really dry ace high board, that’s concerning. Because you’re probably going to bet your bluffs, so I’m not going to fall for your trap. I’m going to check back.” Then when you bet the turn you actually have more fold equity. So that’s a specific example but if you have, again if you’ve got a read, a specific read that your opponent is more likely to fold to your c-bet if you wait to do it until the turn, this could be one more good reason to use it.
Lastly, is to balance and this would probably be, well up there with slow playing because how often do we flop quads and boats? This would be the least likely of all the scenarios for the majority of you. Now if you play in very tough games, if you guys are 500 Zoom regulars, then sure you want to be balancing versus other guys that are good and that know you’re good. It can’t just be that they’re good, but they have to know that you’re good. If they don’t know who you are they may be more likely to think you’re a fish. So, that’s important. When you’re going for balance, when you’re doing something on a higher strategic level it’s not just is he good, but does he know I’m good? Do we know each other? Do we play together all the time. If that’s the case then you want to start to think about balance.
When you check the flop, your range is always very weak and it allows your opponent to bet turn bet river or over bet turn, then that’s going to make your life very difficult so you might want to consider taking some hands that may seem like a standard c-bet to you and putting those into your delay c-bet range just so you’re not vulnerable or can be exploited in the turn.