If c-betting properly in a once-raised pot is important, then perhaps it stands to reason that c-betting in a 3-bet pot is three times as important. Whether or not that fuzzy math holds up in court, it is true that you should usually continue to attack the pot once you’ve 3-bet before the flop. The pot is substantial and you’ve shown substantial strength, so you should bet liberally. In the old poker lingo, you should never leave your children out there.
You still want to consider the texture of the board, and how it relates to both your and your opponent’s range. On boards that you’re supposed to hit, like A♥ K♠ 4♣ , you should always bet. You should usually bet the turn as well, even with complete air like 6♦ 5♦ . It’s very easy for your opponent to give you credit for a hand, since so much of your range hits this board.
WithA♠K♠ onJ♠5♣2♦,you’vefloppednothing.But there are a number of excellent turn cards. You should bet. When your opponent just calls and you turn an ace or a king, you’re in very good shape. On a queen, you may be able to get him to fold small pairs. A spade will give you the nut flush draw. Even a three, four, or ten will give you a gutshot.
The only time you should not c-bet is when the board smashes your opponent’s range, and nothing good can happen on the turn. Take that A♠ K♠ again but make the flop T♥ 9♥ 8♥. Say your opponent opened on the button and you re-raised from the small blind. Not only does this board hit your opponent’s range in the face, but there is not a single good turn card. Even when you hit an ace or a king (and hopefully not a heart), are you really all that happy? Now you’ve got top pair/top kicker in a bloated pot, but it’s not a strong hand on this highly coordinated board. What are you going to do with that?
Put yourself in your opponent’s shoes. Why would he fold the board when you bet the flop? He knows your range is vulnerable on this coordinated board and that there are a million and one bad turn cards (okay, so there are about 21, but you get the point) and few good ones. Many players will never fold this board against a c-bet, regardless of what they hold. They’ll call the flop in position, looking for opportunities to take the pot away on later streets.
Players who c-bet these boards out of position are always looking for something they beat. Yeah, there will be some air in your opponent’s range. And when you check, you are going to let him take the pot away from you. But don’t worry about getting outplayed. This is just a flop where your opponent’s range is stronger than yours, and you have to respect that. There is not enough air in his range for you to bet.
Don’t make loose calls and hopeless bets to avoid giving up on the pot. It’s okay to leave your kids out there sometimes. Maybe they have soccer practice today. The only legitimate reason to c-bet is because it’s profitable. When it’s not, don’t do it.