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A Modern Approach To Continuation Betting

by Ryan Laplante |  Published: Nov 29, 2023

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The Continuation Bet (C-Bet) is one of the most important aspects of Texas hold’em. Understanding how and why you should use it is an integral foundation to being a skilled and profitable player in tournaments or cash games.

There are six main aspects that can affect C-Bet sizes and frequencies in tournaments. While these main factors often work in this fashion, there are always exceptions to each rule.

Note: These hand examples are taken from RangeTrainerPro, all solves are down to 0.5% exploit.

Stack Depth – Arguably the most important aspect of C-Bet size. Generally speaking, the deeper effective you are in terms of pot size, the more frequently you will have the option to pick a larger C-Bet size.

Example: If UTG opens and the big blind calls off of 40 big blinds, and the flop is JHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, after the big blind checks the opener should C-Bet 84% of the time, picking 1/4 pot 7% of the time, 2/3 pot 35% of the time, and full pot 41% of the time.

However, if UTG opens and the big blind calls off of just 20 big blinds, and the flop is JHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, after the big blind checks the opener should C-Bet 97% of the time, picking 1/4 pot 69%, 2/3 pot 8%, and full pot 0%.

This example clearly shows that the shallower stack doesn’t require as large of a C-Bet size. This is largely due to the fact that it is still very easy at shallow stacks for all-ins to occur, even with a small flop bet.

Board Texture – The more cards that change the best hand possible, the more dynamic the board texture is. The fewer cards that change the best hand possible, the more static it is.

Usually, the more dynamic boards have options for larger bet sizes and at higher frequencies. Dynamic boards can also cause the preflop aggressor to check back more often as well.

Example: If UTG opens and the big blind calls off of 40 big blinds, and the flop is JHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, after the big blind checks the opener should C-Bet 84% of the time, picking 1/4 pot 7% of the time, 2/3 pot 35% of the time and full pot 41% of the time.

However, if you change the flop to JDiamond Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, then after the big blind checks the opener should C-Bet 81% of the time, picking 1/4 pot every time.

This example shows that on static boards, smaller sizes are favored, and generally on dynamic boards, larger sizes are favored.

Ranges – This is certainly the most complex aspect of C-Betting, and there are many aspects to it. Because of that I am going just to list and define each of the main ones, and note how they impact bet sizes and frequencies.

1. Player Ranges – What happened preflop and thus what ranges are seeing the flop will dictate many aspects of the hand, these will often impact Range Advantage and Range Interaction the most though.

2. Range Advantage – Which player has the strongest overall range for this situation. Generally speaking, the larger the advantage, the more often the player will C-Bet.

3. Nut Advantage – A modifier to Range Advantage. In many situations, the player who most frequently has all-in quality hands will get to pick larger sizes more often.

4. Range Interaction – Different board textures will connect with different preflop situations. As an example, vs an early position open, a flop of J-10-9 will hit a button caller more, while a flop of 5-6-7 will hit a big blind defend more.

Raised Pot Or Three-Bet+ – Whether you are playing in a single-raised pot (SRP) or three-bet+ pot will often dictate size options.

For instance, unless you are very deep effective in three-bet pots, you will very often be C-Betting only 1/4 pot. This is due to the nature of how condensed ranges play as well as being shallower effective.

Position – Being in or out of position will often dictate check frequencies and bet sizes. This is especially true on turn and river, where the in-position player very rarely bets a size less than half pot.

Example: If the cutoff opens and the button calls off of 60 big blinds, and the flop is JHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, the opener should C-Bet 26% of the time, picking 1/4 pot 4% of the time, 2/3 pot 8% of the time, and full pot 13% of the time. If the cutoff C-Bet 2/3 pot on the flop and the turn is a JClub Suit, they should be barreling 22% of the time, with 1/4 pot 1%, 2/3 pot 20% and full pot 0%.

However, if the cutoff opens and small blind (similar range as button) calls off of 60 big blinds, and the flop is JHeart Suit 9Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit, then after the small blind checks the opener should C-Bet 49% of the time, picking 1/4 pot 0%, 2/3 pot 37%, and full pot 11% of the time. If they C-Bet 2/3 pot on the flop, on a turn JClub Suit after checked to, the cutoff should be barreling turn 44% of the time, for 1/4 pot 0%, 2/3 pot 36%, and full pot 8%.

ICM Pressure – Applying more ICM pressure (financial pressure caused by pay jumps) from a bigger stack to a middling or shorter stack has a similar impact on a situation as though they were at a larger Range Advantage. Thus, they will get to C-bet more frequently and often be choosing smaller sizes. ♠

Ryan Laplante is the co-founder of LearnProPoker and the RangeTrainerPro GTO study tool. The 14-year veteran of the game has more than $8 million in career tournament earnings. The Minnesota native has wins at the Poker Masters and WSOP Circuit to go along with 14 World Series of Poker final tables and a bracelet. You can find him on Instagram RealProtential, Twitter/X @ProtentialMN, or send an email to pokerprotentialgmail.com.