Adam “W34Z3L” Jones gives a masterful breakdown of how to properly continuation bet in today’s games with his C-Betting 101 video (PRO members only). Today we’re going to pluck a nugget of wisdom from this video to combat a common c-betting myth that leads a lot of players to leak chips: Always c-bet dry flops.

(If you’re just getting started with c-betting strategy, you might want to first check out SplitSuit’s free introductory video C-Betting Like a Champion before proceeding.)

We’re Not C-Betting in 2006 Anymore

First of all, it should be obvious to most players that dry flops are attractive to c-bet for the simple mathematical reason that your opponents are unlikely to have hit them. The first indication that you might be c-betting dry flops too much is self-evident in the statement we just made. In today’s games, with most players being well-versed in basic poker strategy, almost everyone is aware of the fact that dry flops are hard to hit.

alwayscbetfl

In pre-Black Friday games both live and online, many players could be easily exploited because they were playing fairly fit-or-fold on the flop, and cold-calling pre-flop with too wide a range. Such obvious strategic blunders are far harder to come by these days. In today’s games, players are going to be much more observant of your c-betting frequencies. And when they notice you c-betting too often, they’re going going to get stickier and trickier, floating you or even raising you and rightfully assigning you a wide c-betting range on dry flops.

In his video, Jones is quick to point out that you can turn this myth on its head and observe some players floating way too many dry flops because they assume their opponents are going to c-bet too often. In a game that sees more strategically sound play every day, making this assumption can be costly unless it’s based on a specific read or HUD stat.

The Dry Board/Wet Board Paradox

You might assume that if players are c-betting many dry flops based on the idea that it’s hard for their opponent to hit the flop, on wet, connected boards, c-betting frequencies would be lower for the opposite reason: With the opponent more likely to hit a wet board, one might tend toward fewer c-bets, or at least more straightforward c-bets representing some equity.

Jones does an interesting bit of database analysis to come up with what might be a surprising revelation to many players. In most cases, our opponents’ fold-to-c-bet frequency on a dry flop will generally be very statistically close to their fold-to-c-bet frequency on a wet flop.

That dry and wet boards would get similar folds to c-bets certainly makes common sense. While our opponents could have many more card combinations that connect with a wet flop, they are far less likely to call or raise you with a hand that lacks equity. But for whatever reason, our minds tend to gravitate towards the threat posed to us by a wet board, rather than the opportunity. Conversely, dry boards seem to make players feel safer than they should feel, because in reality, players are going to look you up far more than they did back in the day, when there might have been some merit to c-betting with almost any two cards on a dry flop.

Questions to Ask Before C-Betting a Dry Flop

Now that we’ve established that “Always C-Bet Dry Flops” is largely a myth in today’s games, how do we know when to make the continuation bet, and when not to?

Jones addresses all the details in his PRO video, and as a caveat, we’re not going to get into all the considerations he does in terms of bet sizing, stack sizes, exploiting player tendencies, or playing out of position. In particular, your bet sizing and your opponents’ frequencies are critical to c-betting correctly. As with anything in poker, you need to understand how the fundamental concepts fit in context of the specific spot you’re in. That said, there are some general questions you can ask yourself on these dry flops to help you decide whether a c-bet is advised:

  • If we are likely to have the best hand, how likely are we to be outdrawn? Jones advises c-betting more frequently when we hold a good hand that can be outdrawn on the turn. Conversely, if no turn card scares us, we might consider checking instead, especially if our opponent’s range almost never connects with the flop. The same concept is also true if we absolutely crush the flop with the mortal nuts. Checking has way more value when we need our opponent to catch up. But even if we hold top pair on a wet board, a c-bet charges our opponent to draw.
  • With bluff c-bets, can we get a fold? It’s kind of obvious to ask this, but if your opponent is more balanced and/or aggressive on dry flops, what’s the point of bluffing with a c-bet on those boards? In general, with a bluff c-bet, we are trying to get a fold on the flop, and so we have to base that decision on the likelihood of our opponent folding to our c-bet, given their range and tendencies. We can’t just auto-c-bet dry flops and expect our opponents to fold with every missed hand anymore.
  • Do we have backdoor draws? Jones suggests keeping an eagle eye out for backdoor straight and flush draws, as they can be the equity you need to c-bet and continue to barrel if necessary. Sure, it’s great to get a fold and not have to hit your card, but even when we’re called, we still have plenty of turn and river cards that improve us at best, or allow us to keep barreling at least. Jones cautions on one thing: Try to focus on your nut draws, because anything less can be far trickier to barrel when there’s a fighting chance your opponent has the better end of the straight, or has out-pipped your flush.
  • Is the flop one of our three streets of value? Listen to our podcast all about “streets of value” if this concept is unfamiliar to you. At the basic level, we are asking, “How many times can we bet and get called and still think our hand is best?” If your answer is three, then obviously you are going to want to fire a c-bet, because you know it will probably be called and you are likely still ahead. It’s more common to have fewer streets of value, and in that case, you should be considering whether the flop needs to be one of them, or you’d rather go for a delayed c-bet (Mike Gano made a whole PRO video on the subject of delayed c-bets). Again, check our other resources for a more in-depth explanation, but always be planning the hand down to showdown before deciding whether to c-bet for value.
  • Is there a c-bet fold or call frequency we can exploit in our opponent? Against a total fish, a pre-2006 level of near-100% c-bets might actually make sense. Versus a complete maniac, you might be c-betting very little because your opponent will do the betting for you. Always look for imbalances in player tendencies to base your own c-betting frequency on. We mentioned this earlier in the article, but it’s worth repeating. Before the dry flop even comes out, you should have a default c-betting frequency in mind given your opponent’s observed tendencies at the table. If they’re overfolding, c-bet those dry flops as if it were the Moneymaker days. If they’re fighting back too much, more checks may be in order. Against complete unknowns, it’s best to stick to the basics outlined above.
  • Conclusion

    We have only scratched the c-betting surface and highly recommend that you watch the entire C-Betting 101 video by signing up for PRO membership. Alternatively the c-betting resources in our CORE program might better fit your current needs. C-bet sizing in particular is a nuance that requires more study to master. You’ll be deploying half-pot bets, over-bets, and everything in between based on a number of variables. Sizing your c-bet the same in every situation is a whole big leak unto itself, so we encourage you to do your research on sizing.

    We hope that if you came into this article c-betting most dry flops automatically, you now see the faults in this approach. Yes, the games are undoubtedly getting harder as most players are now aware of balanced c-bet strategies. But by asking yourself the right questions, having the right information awareness at the table, and planning ahead to showdown, your dry flop c-bets will stop leaking and start profiting.

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