Fixing Your Redline: Making Better C-Bets

Dario Minieri
One and done doesn't cut it when it comes to c-betting.

Lots of multi-tabling, auto-pilot TAGs have the same, simple leak: firing mindless continuation bets whenever they're the pre-flop raiser.

When you fire c-bets with reckless disregard, you're more often than not just going to end up folding later in the hand.

Add up all of those folds over the course of a session - or a month, or a year - and you can clearly see that's going to cost you a lot of "non-showdown" winnings.

Indentifying bad c-bets

Bad c-bets are ones where the only thought that enters your mind is, "I'm the pre-flop raiser, so I should bet again." Simple as that.

The problem with thoughtless continuation-betting is that when your opponent calls, you usually give up on the hand when he bets on a later street.

When you fold, you forfeit your pre-flop raise, your c-bet and the rest of the pot without a fight.

When you put money into the pot and fold, not only will your overall bottom line suffer, your "non-showdown" winnings take a big hit.

In Poker Tracker terms, that means a sharp, downward-sloping "redline."

(For a more complete definition of the redline and how it effects your game, check out these articles here and here.)

Losing a raise and a c-bet might not seem like a big deal, but it's a leak that can repeat itself countless times in a single session

Do it often enough and it can become a massive leak for a player with an otherwise decent game.

Phil Gordon Folds
Your main goal with a c-bet? Get a fold.

C-betting better

If the main factor in bad c-betting is thoughtlessness, the way to become a better c-bettor is, naturally, to think about your c-bets. Every time.

What do you think about?

You think about what your goal is.

As the c-bettor, your goal is to use the initiative you've gained being the pre-flop raiser and get a fold from your opponent.

Mark these words: To get a fold!

When you c-bet, you want your opponent to fold.

Focus your c-betting on situations when he's likely to fold; check instead when he's likely to call.

Dry boards with big cards are the best boards to c-bet

It's human nature for your opponent to put you on big cards when you raise pre-flop. When the board comes A 3 8, it's an easy c-bet.

The board is dry, and he's very likely to have missed.

You're the pre-flop raiser, so you're more likely to have an ace than he is. In this case, your continuation bet is likely to succeed.

On the flip side, when you raise and the board comes 3 2 6, you're probably not going to get credit for a real hand that often.

It's probably better to check, unless...

Phil Collins
Mutli-barrelling can become extremely profitable.

You plan on firing multiple barrels

A board like the one above may not be great to c-bet if you plan on going "one and done" on it - meaning firing one c-bet then giving up when called.

It may still be profitable to c-bet, but only if you plan on firing multiple barrels.

On a low board, or a board with one medium-high card like T 4 2, your opponent is liable to peel with almost any pocket pair.

He hopes you'll give up when your c-bet is called and he can go on to check it down and win the hand.

This article, though, is to get you to stop that mindless "one and done" c-betting and get you thinking.

On these types of boards, "one and done" c-betting just isn't profitable.

When you think about your opponent's range in most of these cases however, multi-barreling on these types of boards can become extremely profitable.

Your opponent's range is usually made up of weak, one-pair hands. You can often just fire the turn and river and have him fold out a very high percentage of the time.

More bad c-betting spots:

Multi-way pots. Multi-way pots just mean more opponents that can catch a piece of the board and call you.

When you're looking for a fold, that's obviously not ideal.

Draw-heavy flops If you raise in early position with A K, get called on the button, and the flop comes 6 8 9,

it's probably best not to fire that c-bet. That flop just smashes your opponent's calling range.

Vs. calling stations. It's basically the age-old adage: Don't bluff calling stations. You can't bluff a guy that never folds.

Flops that don't help your perceived range These are the boards that you either plan on firing multiple barrels on or you don't c-bet.

If a board looks like it didn't help your range, making a single c-bet then giving up is literally flushing money down the toilet.

Either plan on firing good turn cards (i.e. big cards), or just check.

John Juanda
Bottom line: Be a Thinker.

Showdown-value hands.A flopped hand that has good showdown value but isn't quite strong enough to bet for value is a good one to check through.

A good example would be A 7 on a K 7 2 board.

You're likely to have the best hand, but betting will just fold out everything you're ahead of.

No worse hands ever call, making it perfectly fine to check behind when in position.

When you actually think, your c-bets improve.

Bottom line is if you want to make better c-bets, you have to think through every situation.

Think about your opponents and their playing styles.

What boards are likely to have helped their pre-flop calling range and what boards they think helped your pre-flop raising range?

Always c-bet with a plan. The main thing: ditch the "one and done" approach.

If you plan on firing one barrel and giving up, don't. It may be better to not fire any at all.

Related strategy articles:

Best Poker Sites - Editor`s Pick

Latest Blogs »