[From a Beginner, to Beginners] [Micros] A Second Look Into C-Betting

    • kerith
      kerith
      Bronze
      Joined: 30.07.2015 Posts: 130
      Hi :)
      Lately I have been examining my postflop game (only postflop, not turn and river, gotta go step by step), and I find that I was just burning money by cbetting too much. Playing in the micros, I find that I am the preflop raiser more often than not, and the common response to that is to cbet the flop, no matter what, even if we miss completely (as taught by the No Limit Beginner's Course by confidant91, or the strategy articles on this site).

      However, even us beginners have to sense that this is not always correct, for many reasons:
      • If we have a dry flop (:8c: :5h: 3:) multiway, and the villain calls, and the turn comes a blank (T:) , what do we do with, say, :Ad: :Ks: ? Do we bet the turn, because "c'mon, it's AKo"?
      • If we are out of position, what do we do if the villain has been watching our cbetting, and raises us?
      • What if we hit a gutshot and cbet the flop, but miss the turn?
      • ....


      As you can see, cbetting 100% of the time can lead to make mistakes, and when we make mistakes, we lose money. I estimate that, for me, it's costed me about 10Buy-Ins (20€), if we count mistakes that I made because the villain called my cbet.

      However, even though cbetting 100% of flops is certainly a bad idea, cbetting only those in which you hit the flop doesn't seem right to me, I think that we would be losing value. So, how do we know when to cbet?

      Well, for that we have to look into WHY do we want to cbet (or bet in general). In my opinion, there is only one reason to bet in No-Limit Hold 'em: For Value.

      We bet because we want to play as close to perfectly as possible, taking advantage of every bit of value we can get, and at the same time, we want to take value away from our opponent. In short:

      We bet to not give away value, and to take value away from our opponent.

      To take value away from aour opponent, we have two options:
      • Bet, because we expect the villain to call with a worse hand (valuebet).
      • Bet, because we expect the villain to fold a better hand (bluff).


      Keep those two reasons in mind, since we will apply them to cbetting.

      How to know if a cbet is profitable:
      Now, let's apply these concepts to a cbet. Let's imagine that you raised 2.5BB with :As: :9d: from the BU, and the SB calls, the BB fold. The flop comes :8d: :Ts: :Qc: . Our hand certainly does have outs (7, if we count the 3 Aces and 4Js), but it's not really in that great shape, since the 4Js might not even be real outs (K9 comes to mind). Do we cbet?

      Well, if we believe that the only reason to bet is for value, let's review the two forms of getting value:
      • Can we get a worse hand to call? Well, kind of, since hands like 76s, 87s, etc can call us (I've seen it a lot in the micros). But the hands that call us have a greater chance of having us beat than not (AT, KT, KQ, QT, TT-88...).
      • Can I get a better hand to fold? This is a more tricky question (and the one that can actually make oyu money), and to answer it we need to see another concept: Fold equity.


      Fold Equity, and why you should care about it:
      Fold Equity is simply the probability of ALL opponents folding on a given street, multiplied by the amount we make by them folding, minus the amount that we lose if they call (assuming we are purely bluffing):

      FOLD EQUITY = (%ALL FOLD * POT) - ((1 - %ALL FOLD) * EFFECTIVE BET)
      To put it simply, Fold Equity is what helps us estimate whether a bluff will be profitable or not. If our Fold Equity is more than 0, it's a profitable bluff. If it's not, we lose money when bluffing. This is of course impossible to estimate exactly, but we can take some general rules from this:

      • If we are against opponents who call 90% of our cbets, we have very very little fold equity, and thus it's really really wrong to cbet the flop as a bluff, but we should always do it with the best hand. Some fish (loose passive players) work like that: They will call the flop even with the most backdoor of all the draws.
      • If we are against an opponent who plays fit/fold on the flop, then it's usually correct to cbet the flop, since he will miss most of the time. This is the OTHER kind of fish, and also this is how some worse regs work at the micros.


      Pay attention to the players, it will make you lots of money.

      Of course, there are many more factors that determine our fold equity, some of which will be listed below.

      Factors that can increase your fold equity
      • Dry boards (unpaired, low-value boards): This is the biggest one, I think, especially in the lower stakes, where people only worry about their cards and the board, and don't even think aobut what you're holding. Players usually miss the flop when it comes dry, and will mostly fold to a cbet without hesitation.
      • Paired low boards: Since people at the micros tend to overevaluate Kx and Qx hands, they will see a flop uite often with them. Thus, when the flop comes :6s: :6h: :9c: and you cbet, they can't find enough time to fold their K2o.
      • Straighty or flushy boards: The same as paired, except in these ones they hit more draws, and thus you get called more often (people can't really fold :4h: :Ad: on a :Th: :7h: :2h: board). By the way, in this kind of boards, getting a worse hand to call is really really easy, if we find ourselves in the good end of an OESD, for example.
      • You are Heads-Up: Of course, it's way easier to make 1 person fold, than 2 people.
      • Somebody who calls with speculative hands, and plays fit/fold postflop: Here, he will miss most of the time, as discussed above.
      • Being in position: If you are the preflop raiser and the caller checks to you on the flop, there is a high, high chance that the villain has given up the cand, and you can just take it down with any two cards.


      Factors that can decrease your Fold Equity:
      • You are multiway: This is a big one. If you are multiway, even if you are in position, really look for reasons to cbet as a bluff, because someone is bound to call.
      • The board is high: People at the micros don't like to fold pairs. Ever. And since their calling ranges contain lots of broadways, and weak aces, a flop like :As: :Kd: :Qc: gives us very very little fold equity.
      • Really loose, really passive players: These players are really easy to valuebet, but really hard to bluff, mostly because they really don't care about what you're representing, so they just call with their gutshots and expect to get lucky. I have lost tons of money trying to make these people fold.
      • Regulars that know that you're cbetting really wide: The good regulars will actually be thinking about what hand you are representing, and the likelyhood of you having it, so for example if you flop :3d: :3h: :7s: , after 3betting preflop, you'll really have a hard time representing any kind of good hand.
      • Really aggresive players: These people will reraise you with air, for no good reason, and are also really difficult to make fold. Thus, you should only valuebet them.
      • Very low stack to pot ratio (S/PR): With shorter stacks, people find it harder to fold.


      Wrap it up together
      Having defined what fold equity is, and how to determine, here's a heuristic that has helped me avoid making stupid cbets:
      • 1.- Do I think I have the best hand, or a good enough draw? (Why?) If I do, bet for value. If I don't, go to 2.
      • 2.- Can I make him fold his better hand? (a.k.a. Do I have enough Fold Equity?) If so, then bet. If not, then fold.


      Pretty simple, right? These questions alone make the red line (winnings without showdown) much less steep.

      One more thing about bet sizing and ZOOM tables
      A neat little trick that I discovered from some coaching video is that you can tweak your bet sizing, if people aren't paying attention to it:

      • If people are going to fold to a 2/3xPot bet, they are usually also going to fold to a 1/2xBet, since they are giving up the hand, so when you bluff a cbet, you can bluff a lot smaller.
      • If people are going to call (with a worse hand) a 2/3xPot bet, they are usually going to call a 3/4xPot, or even a Pot sized bet. Thus, you can bet for value bigger.


      BEWARE: This only works when nobody is paying attention to the bet sizes, which makes it a good strategy for ZOOM (as long as you readjust if you get caught), but a TERRIBLE one for regular tables, since people will pick up on it really really quicky.

      The End:

      I really hope this has been of some help to you, and any addition, comment, critique, will be greatly appreciated, since it will only improve my game and that of others.

      Best of luck at the tables,
      Kerith
  • 4 replies
    • itsSkyler
      itsSkyler
      Bronze
      Joined: 03.03.2012 Posts: 41
      Hi Kerith,

      Great threat and you've put a lot of thought into it and I'm sure it will help out a lot of people including myself with the thought process behind c-betting. I too am following the course by confident91. From my experience in MTTs c-betting around 60-70% of flops is more optimal. In my opinion it's bad too c-bet as much as we do following the course exactly (which I've been doing so far). I've played 2,500 hands exactly as told do by the book in the course during those hands I've made a profit of $16. Which does imply that the by the book method of the course works at NL2 but I do see myself c-betting, then folding to a raise all too often.

      I'm about to start adjusting my game play to a more optimal method and c-betting only where there is value to be had for myself. The positions which I might avoid c-betting are when the board has a flush-draw that I can't complete, a board that has 3 cards of the same suit which I don't have and never hit the flop. Flops where my hand has little to no chance of improving, maybe pocket pairs where the board is all overcards. Those are some examples that I'll stop c-betting as much on. I do believe also that completely taking c-betting out of flops that you don't hit also decreases what you'll get in the long run also, as there is a lot of the time as well when people will fold to a c-bet. I believe we should also be avoiding c-bets when there is 3 or more left in the hand, especially when we haven't hit anything and have no draws. There is simply not enough chance of the c-bet bluff getting through more people.

      It's more about finding a balance, c-betting more often when you do have a chance to realistically improve you hand and c-betting less when you don't have as much or any chance of improving. If you skip the c-bet in position and the turn get's checked too you as well, this usually means that the person has given up on their hand and you could put a bet in on the turn and try and get them off it there. I find a lot of fish will not check/check if they have something and would rather bet for value. I believe c-bets are best used as a bluff only when you are heads-up in the pot for the highest chance of success.

      Thanks again for your thread,
      Sky
    • la55i
      la55i
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 27.01.2013 Posts: 7,235
      Wow. You really have put some time and effort writing this. There is good thinking and good points but also a few things that caught my eye.

      1.About the first line of your post: "only postflop, not turn and river", turn and river are considered postflop.
      2. "there is only one reason to bet in No-Limit Hold 'em: For Value. " We can't call bluffs and semibluffs value bets. Even when our fold equity is super high and our purpose is to make money by getting villain fold his hand we are not betting for value.
      3. I'm not sure if your tip for bet sizes in zoom is very efficient since we have to play tens of thousands of hands to get big enough sample from people to know whether they pay attention to bet sizes or not.

      There are some good points in factors that can increase and decrease our fold equity but those don't apply to every situation. When cbetting I think we should also take positions, what kind of range our villains is playing and what kind of range villain thinks we are playing into consideration. This is a very good start. Keep up the good work! :f_drink:
    • kerith
      kerith
      Bronze
      Joined: 30.07.2015 Posts: 130
      Wow, I was waiting until I had a good enough answer for @itsSkyler... big mistake :)

      First of all, thanks to both of you for reading the text wall, and for writing such toughtful commets. I'll try to answer now.

      'm about to start adjusting my game play to a more optimal method and c-betting only where there is value to be had for myself.
      Careful with that, since if you only bet when you hit (or have a draw), you could be losing tons of value. Remember: A suited or broadways flop looks scary for you, but sure as hell looks scary too for your opponent, if he misses. Remember, a suited connector will hit a suited flop only 1/4th of the time (slightly less, actually).
      Of course, if you cbet as a bluff, you also have to be ready to give up the hand.

      As a starting point to bluff, try to always be in position, so you can bet if villain checks more.

      As you say, it's about finding balance, and also adjusting to opponents. Regs will usually not fall for cbet bluffs, but that also means that you can extract tons of money from them when you bet for value. Fish will either play fit/fold, and thus you can bluff them about 90% of the time, OR be extremely sticky and call you down with the bottomest of the bottom pairs, or the dumbest of the dum ends of a gutshot. These people you can't bluff, but again you can also extract value from.
    • kerith
      kerith
      Bronze
      Joined: 30.07.2015 Posts: 130
      Originally posted by la55i
      Wow. You really have put some time and effort writing this. There is good thinking and good points but also a few things that caught my eye.
      Thanks for the praise, I'm glad to know that I'm not totally off here :)

      Originally posted by la55i
      1.About the first line of your post: "only postflop, not turn and river", turn and river are considered postflop.
      I know, I know... Should have called it "Flop Play", I guess :f_thumbsup:

      Originally posted by la55i
      2. "there is only one reason to bet in No-Limit Hold 'em: For Value. " We can't call bluffs and semibluffs value bets. Even when our fold equity is super high and our purpose is to make money by getting villain fold his hand we are not betting for value.
      Your are right. But...

      My reasoning for calling bluffing a bet for value is that, as I see it, both Pot Equity and Fold Equity take part in the EV calculation. If EV = prob(win) * amount(win) - prob(lose) * amount(lose), then in prob(win) enters the probablility that you have the best hand on the river, and the probablility that you win by having him fold. Thus, a bet can be +EV even if we don't have the best hand, or the odds (pot odds and implied odds). Thus, a bluff contrubutes to your overall EV, and that's why I call it Value.

      But again, you are right. For clarity purpouses, I should have called things what they are. A valuebet is a valuebet, and a bluff is a bluff.

      Originally posted by la55i
      3. I'm not sure if your tip for bet sizes in zoom is very efficient since we have to play tens of thousands of hands to get big enough sample from people to know whether they pay attention to bet sizes or not.
      For that same reason, we would need a huge amount of hands to know that you are not wasting money because villain is not paying attention to your sizing.

      But you may have a point, and the less information we give the villain the better. I just posted that tip because it seemed that it worked, and I heard it somewhere in a BalugaWhale video.

      Thanks for the great feedback, and for reading the wall of text :)

      Cheers!:f_drink: