February 10, 2010
We have been having some good discussions on our Secret HQ group. One of the recurring topics is about c-betting strategy/raising large preflop to steal the blinds more frequently. I play a lot on the FT deep tables, and on some other sites too. One common leak of my opponents is that they will stack off 200bb deep with top pair+ on certain board textures. Another leak is that they will call huge river bets because they donâ€™t believe people â€œhave itâ€ after they check the flop. However, by far the most common problem they have is that they play horribly against non-standard lines.
Hero (CO): $120.05
Pre Flop: ($1.15) Hero is CO with 9 9
Hero raises to $2, 2 folds, BB calls $1.50
Flop: ($4.65) A 9 A (2 players)
BB checks, Hero checks
Turn: ($4.65) J (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $4, BB calls $4
River: ($12.65) T (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $25, BB calls $25
Final Pot: $62.65
Hero shows 9 9 (a full house, Nines full of Aces)
BB mucks K J
Hero wins $60.65
In the hand above I expect mostly check-calls on the flop from any Ax hand, especially as his kicker will usually be a weaker one. However, I also expect him to lead the turn with trips and air after I check the flop, and I can raise to get the same number of bets in by the river (and pick up extra dead money from his bluffs). The benefit of the flop check is that I can widen his bluff-catching range immensely.
There are some people in our group that think you should grab the first +EV opportunity to make a bet and take down dead money possible, regardless of your hand.
Hero (BTN): $105.80
Pre Flop: ($2.50) Hero is BTN with 6 6
2 folds, Hero raises to $3, 1 fold, BB calls $2
Flop: ($7.50) 8 3 5 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero checks
In this hand I elect to not make a c-bet, and the reason is central to my overall strategy. It is likely that villain will check-raise this board with a wide range, and check-call somewhat less often. It is also important to me that my bet/folding range is not very large, relative to my bet/raise and bet/call ranges. Even if you are playing a bad opponent, if he sees you c-betting with a very high frequency this is the type of board he will probably decide to fight back on and at some point he is going to bluff-raise you. In fact, if he were to bluff-raise at all then your c-bet, designed to pick up dead money, will actually turn into the dead money itself.
We can easily formulate a strong turn strategy for the board above; by checking back this flop you are not conceding the pot. By selecting a wide checking back range that includes paired hands, overcards and hands with backdoor draws you will be able to continue with a high frequency against a lead bet on almost any turn card. In fact, with a carefully selected range and a good image, your opponent will often have less information about the strength of your hand on the turn than on the flop and a delayed c-bet should make him fold some marginal hands he might have called the flop with.
So, to recap, I am strong proponent of the idea that we can often pick up the same dead money on a later street, especially when IP, whilst increasing the chance that we can make a monster hand and get paid off by a wider range. Yes, sometimes we will lose a pot we could have won on the flop; I argue that the sum of the extra pots that we lose will be smaller than the sum of the extra pots we win, and so overall missing the flop c-bet is a superior strategy.