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The C-Bet for Beginners
As a beginning player you may find it difficult to play poker on the flop after raising before the flop.
When you follow up your pre-flop raise with a bet on the flop (whether you hit or not), it's termed a continuation bet, or c-bet.
A continuation bet takes advantage of the initiative you gain by being the pre-flop aggressor, and carries it over onto the flop.
The basic idea is that when you raise before the flop you are telling the table "I like my hand, and I am willing to play for more money." Then when the flop comes, your c-bet says "I still like my hand." As the aggressor your opponent will usually fold, forfeiting the pot.
Continuation bets are very effective because most poker hands miss the flop most of the time. When your opponent just flat-calls he has no initiative in the hand. You are the aggressor; you are saying that your hand is better than his.
Since both of you are likely going to miss on the flop, when he checks and you bet you have now told him twice you like your hand. He is going to fold pretty much every time he doesn't catch a piece of the board.
To Fire or Not to Fire
There is so much dead money in the average pot from players making weak calls before the flop. These same players will fold the flop in the face of continued aggression. With all this dead money there is a ton of value to be had by c-betting a high percentage of the time.
A high percentage of the time doesn't mean every time. If your opponent knows you're going to fire a c-bet every single time you raise before the flop, he will be able to trap you with impunity, certain that you are going to bet.
You can never do one thing 100% of the time in poker - it is too exploitable.
When you are firing a continuation bet, you want your opponent to fold. You want to take advantage of being the pre-flop raiser and you want to collect the dead money those times your opponent misses. You have to realize that for firing continuation bets, some boards are better than others.
Good C-Bet Situations
The best flops to continuation bet are ones that are likely to have helped your hand. When you raise before the flop your opponent is likely to put you on big cards. When the big cards come on the flop your bet will often win you the pot. Boards with aces or kings on them always make great continuation-bet situations because most opponents are going to think that they hit the pre-flop raiser.
Also, flops that are unlikely to have helped your opponent make for great c-betting. If you think about what kinds of hands your opponent is likely to call with before the flop, chances are a flop like T♥ 3♠ 5♣ isn't going to hit his hand that hard. That means in that case, he'll be more than willing to give up when you c-bet.
When you find yourself heads-up on the flop after raising you should be continuation betting a high percentage of the time. Your single opponent will miss the flop completely so often, you should be continuation betting all but the most dangerous boards.
When Not to Continuation Bet
There are, of course, bad flops to continuation bet as well. When the flop is likely to have helped your opponent or gives him a reason for calling, you should often skip the c-bet. After all, you're hoping he will fold, so continuation betting boards he'll likely call is just giving money away.
You can never know for sure which boards help your opponent and which don't. It is an educated guessing game: you have to think about what your opponent is likely to have called with and the likelihood that he will stick around. If either of those are high, then don't bet.
If the flop comes down rich with draws, you're better off checking than betting. For example, a board like 8♥ 7♥ 9♦. There are so many hands that your opponent could be calling with before the flop that hit this flop, and you're going to get called or raised so often, you're better off just checking.
Also, if you find yourself against multiple opponents you should be less and less likely to c-bet. Again, c-bets are meant to pick up the dead money without any trouble. The more people see the flop, the greater the chance someone will want to see a turn.
Knowing when not to continuation bet is just as important is knowing when to continuation bet. Just think about your opponents' likely holdings; bet when you think they'll fold and check when you think they will call.
Since a continuation bet is really just a small bluff you want to be economical with your bet sizing. You want to bet enough to get your opponent to fold, but you don't want to risk unnecessary chips those times that you do get called. Also, you have to risk becoming too predictable.
Both your continuation bets and you value bets should be of similar size. If you bet less when you c-bet and more when you value bet, good opponents are going to catch on. So you should bet the right amount to get the job done, without risking too many chips and without giving away too much information.
A bet of two-thirds the pot flop bet is a good standard to have. It is economical, as it will be more than enough to collect the dead money, and it will also be enough to start building the pot those times you do have a real hand - thus not giving out information unnecessarily.
Knowing when to continuation bet and when not to is one of the most fundamental skills you can learn when beginning your poker career. Many players, after raising before the flop, only bet the flop if they have a hand, but that's leaving a ton of dead money on the table.
The only thing worse would be making a habit out of continuation betting every single time no matter the situation. There are simple rules to live by: if your opponent is likely to fold, then bet; if he is likely to want to continue, then check your missed hands.
At first it may be difficult to figure out when that is but over time, with practice, it will become easier and easier, and soon you will have the c-bet mastered!
To put this advice into action take advantage of our exclusive sign-up bonuses and get yourself in the game!
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