THE ANATOMY OF A CONTINUATION BET

MLJ and I got into a discussion about whether to c-bet this flop or not which sparked my interest in this topic. DISCLAIMER Im not presenting any of this as fact I am actually trying to improve my own understanding of the factors that lead to a c-bet decision, take it as you will.

So lets dissect a c-bet in this spot against a loose villain. Lets assume we use 18 here (75%) as a standard cbet and we never get check raised (its just going to be simpler that way). I went through pokerstove and clicked on what I thought was a reasonable starting hand range for a loose villain in this situation (doesnt really matter exactly what they were) and I came up with 42.3% of all starting hands (I assumed he would 3-bet stronger hands and picked a very reasonable range). Then I assumed villain would call the flop with anything that included a gutshot or better (all pairs not A hi). This came out to 22.7% of all hands which means villain would call approx. 53.7% of all continuation bets. Doing some quick math assuming the hand stopped after your c-bet you would show an immediate profit of $1.74 for each c-bet. That means if you have 32o here you would show an immediate profit by c-betting. I am sure this is obvious to many of you so bear with me.

Now lets assume a tighter villain preflop with the same calling standards I picked out a reasonable calling range of 25.5% of all

hands which would lead to him calling c-bets with 19.2% of all hands or approx. 75% of all c-bets. Now each c-bet shows a profit of -$7.5. So what did I learn from all this? Preflop range has a huge impact on c-bet success (LDO) but what did surprise me is that a loose preflop player that plays the same postflop as a tight preflop player can be c-bet against more aggressively. I tried this idea on a couple different flop textures and the impression that I get is that this is probably universally true.

Clearly assuming tight players will call gutshots and and any pair is a pretty strong assumption (far from reality) so if we use the same flop as in wha’s hand and the same tight player (25.5% preflop) and assume he plays a much tighter range after your c- bet to the tune of 14.6% (again came up with a reasonable range fiddling with pokerstove) of all hands which would mean our c- bet gets called 57.3% of the time for a total immediate profit of approx. -$.07. This is great for a couple reasons, it shows that postflop tightness increases the profitability of c-bets (obviously) and we found a realistic ratio that is very near the break even point of the c-bet in this hand.

***Obviously when we c-bet there are other factors at stake than the immediate success of the c-bet as a bluff on the flop. A lot of times when we c-bet the flop we will be called but still go on to win the hand in some manner later on ands its good for our metagame to be betting strong hands as well as weak hands, all very obvious stuff. Now that leads us to what kind of hands we should c-bet in this spot given how they play later on in the hand. How is 43 different in this spot than an 87 or a 55-88? Basically given some very rough estimates of how often you get to showdown like this I think its worth about $1.3-$2.5 on average (I just took a rough estimate of how often this would happen I assumed about 10%-20% here). Add in the 11% of the time we improve on the turn and 22% by the river for 43 and we have very solid value for c-betting this flop. Interestingly with either 43 or 55 most of the value comes from their draws to two pair or trips even though this only happens rarely (this is pretty revealing to me as I think many of us would prefer to c-bet the 87 thinking that it has no value on this flop so its better to bet and give up). Given these loose approximations with some added double/triple barrel equity its probably profitable to c-bet against the tight preflop player who plays loose postflop, thats a pretty stunning revelation to me.

I know that was confusing so let me try and sum up my approximations quickly:
-$.7 c-betting immediately on the flop against tight/tight -$7.5 c-betting against tight/loose

+$1.74 c-betting against loose/loose

+$1.3-2.5 for showing down a pair against a whiffed draw (only accurate against a tight/tight adjust upwards against tight/loose and loose/loose)
+$4-5 for both 43 and 55 (only accurate against a tight/tight again adjust up against tight/loose and loose/loose)

+$x for improving on the river
+$x for v-betting when our ‘draw’ hits, who knows probably worth at least $2
+$x for double and triple barreling (lets not even get into it)
+$x for metagame

One important thing to note is that the numbers really arent important (dont check my math) I used specific examples to try and make the factors that make a c-bet profitable more concrete and clear. I think understanding these factors and adjusting them correctly for the situation can help you make better decisions about c-betting.

– Cwar

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