Sunday, September 14, 2008

To cbet or not to cbet

If you're the preflop raiser, I am assuming that your initial inclination would be to cbet. If it's not, it definitely should be. However, the question is, how often? The answer is somewhere between all the time to once in a while. The problem with cbetting too often is that these days, a lot of players are starting to play back or float the cbets because so many players do it too often. So, cbetting requires further understanding of the texture of the flop. For example, if you raise preflop with 77 from MP and there are two callers behind you, it's probably not a good idea to bet when the flop comes A-Q-9. Maybe it is, depending on the opponent but given no other information, betting on that flop in this situation I think is a leak because more often than not, the board is likely to have hit one of your opponents.

One school of thought is that if you don't bet, how do you find out where you stand? This is the frequently mentioned "betting for information." And in general, betting for information is a leak. A fellow blogger mentioned that betting for information is worthless because the information obtained is never worth the price you pay to find out. I agree with this statement more and more. Having said that, I'm not advocating that you cbet only when you hit your hand. The idea is you have to understand the texture of the flop and the likelihood of your opponent hitting the board in order to make it profitable. So in other words, in the above example, if I raised with 77 and the board came A-Q-7, I would cbet 100% of the time. If someone is calling a raise, it's very likely that they hit the piece of the board. So, it's very profitable to play it that way. Again, if your thought is that if the opponent is paying attention, they might fold their ace. Perhaps, but keep in mind, you're not just betting when you hit. You're just being a little more selective on when to cbet and when not to.

Another example of when it would be more profitable not to cbet is if you have a big pocket pair but a higher card shows up. You know, your typical raise with KK from the CO, one of the blinds call and the flop comes out A high rainbow. I mean that happens like 80% of the time right? It sure seems like it doesn't it? I know that in the past, if it got checked to me, I would cbet. Sometimes I would take it down, sometimes I wouldn't. The thing is, this is a big leak. Why? Because you're turning your big hand into a big bluff. If you have position, there's no problem checking behind. At that point, you're not trying to hit the K. You're actually enticing the opponent to bet into you. In other words if you cbet on that board with your hand, you don't stand to make a lot of money. You're betting for information and that is it. If you check, then on the later streets, it becomes more likely that the opponent will try to steal this pot away from you. In other words, you go from only winning a small pot when you have the better hand to possibly increasing the pot because the opponent's range will include more hands rather than just the A. Plus, by not cbetting the flop, you keep the pot small so you're saving yourself money on the flop to call the bets on the later streets.

Here are some HHs that I thought I could use to illustrate my thought process on cbetting.

Hand 1: 1-2NL Full ring - both players involved have a full buy-in

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [6h 6s]
4 folds
RecessRampage raises to $7 from MP
3 folds
BB calls $5

*** FLOP *** [Ts 8d Ad]
BB checks
RecessRampage bets $10
BB raises to $34
RecessRampage folds
Uncalled bet of $24 returned to BB
BB wins the pot ($33.25)

Even though this contradicts what I said earlier about having a middle pocket pair and not betting out, this is a little different. I have position and since it was checked to me, I felt that the bet here is a must. With 66, you can only win if you bet here. The board is too draw heavy that I felt I will bet out once and try to take it down. Once I get checkraised, I'm obviously done with the hand.

Hand 2: 1-2NL 6 max
both players involved have full stacks

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [Ac Jc]
4 folds
RecessRampage raises to $6 from the SB
BB calls $4

*** FLOP *** [4d Td 4s]
RecessRampage checks
BB checks

*** TURN *** [4d Td 4s] [Ts]
RecessRampage checks
BB bets $4
RecessRampage calls $4

*** RIVER *** [4d Td 4s Ts] [6d]
RecessRampage checks
BB checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
BB shows [Js Qd] two pair, Tens and Fours
RecessRampage shows [Ac Jc] two pair, Tens and Fours
RecessRampage wins the pot ($19) with two pair, Tens and Fours

This was an instance where in a blind v blind battle, I like my hand. And, even after the flop, I like my hand. Ace high is a decent hand in a xxy flop so here, I figured I would let the opponent take control of the pot. Of course, I only got one bluff out of him but again, if I cbet here, if the opponent is good, he could raise, knowing that it's very unlikely that I hit the ten and steal the pot away. Or, he can fold and either one would be ok for the opponent since they both could be argued that it's the right play. So, instead, I tried to give him the rope so he can hang himself. Of course, there are times the opponent shows up with a ten here but you can't fear the less likely instances IMO.

Hand 3: 5-10NL Full ring
RecessRampage ($1,230)
Villain ($505.70)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [6s 6h]
4 folds
Villain calls $10
RecessRampage raises to $45
3 folds
Villain calls $35

*** FLOP *** [3d Tc 9h]
Villain checks
RecessRampage bets $80
Villain raises to $345
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act
RecessRampage folds
Uncalled bet of $265 returned to Villain
Villain wins the pot ($262)

This is an instance where I hate my cbet. Since I have position, I am now thinking that maybe I should have just peeled another card to see if a card that would benefit me more would show up. In other words, I want to see an A high flop whenever there is a limper ahead of me and I raise preflop. It's easier to rep the A. On a board like this with a bunch of middle cards, it's more likely to hit my opponent who limped then called my raise.

Hand 4: 5-10NL Full Ring

RecessRampage ($1,231)
Villain 1 ($1,000)
Villain 2 ($1,078)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [Ac Qd]
RecessRampage raises to $35 from UTG
2 folds
Villain 1 calls $35
1 fold
Villain 2 calls $30 from SB
BB folds

*** FLOP *** [4h Qs Qc]
Villain 2 checks
RecessRampage bets $70
Villain 1 folds
Villain 2 has 15 seconds left to act
Villain 2 raises to $210
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act
RecessRampage has requested TIME
RecessRampage raises to $520
Villain 2 has 15 seconds left to act
Villain 2 has requested TIME
Villain 2 raises to $1,043, and is all in
RecessRampage calls $523
Villain 2 shows [4d 4s]
RecessRampage shows [Ac Qd]

*** TURN *** [4h Qs Qc] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [4h Qs Qc 5s] [8c]
Villain 2 shows a full house, Fours full of Queens
RecessRampage shows three of a kind, Queens
Villain 2 wins the pot ($2,198) with a full house, Fours full of Queens

I'm not gonna lie... that one hurt. The reason I cbet on this flop is because with two players, I felt that one or both of them could have a pocket pair. On a xxy board, at this level, I thought a middle pocket pair might fight me for this pot so I went ahead and put in what looks like a normal cbet. The big blind almost on cue checkraises me. So I thought about my options here to determine what the best way to make money is. I can call and see if he fires out another bet or I can put in another raise here to see if the BB would overplay his pocket pair. And you know that saying (I don't know the exact quote) where on a xxy board, the 3rd bet is almost never a monster? Well, I figured I'll play along with that quote and put in a 3rd bet on the flop. Of course, after that, when he shoved, I did not like it because I felt that he might have 44. However, folding there would obviously be a mistake since he can easily have KQ or something like that and 44 would be the ONLY hand that beats me. Sure enough, that's what he has and I lose a big pot. But I like the cbet here because it balances out my range in terms of when I cbet, I can be doing it with a complete whiff or I will still cbet with a monster. It would be hard for my opponents to narrow down my range when I cbet.

This post got a lot longer than I intended... I have some more hands but I think this post is long enough so I'll stop here for now. Good luck at the tables!


lj said... still play poker?

$mokkee said...

that last hand was brutal.

spritpot said...

On the first 66 hand...this is not as clear a c-bet in my opinion. To me it depends on what kind of player you're up against, and also what you plan to do on later streets. If he's a massively nitty multi-tabler, you can bet and he will fold JJ and 99, and you can put in more barrels later and get him off AJ or maybe AQ. But this board hits SO many hands that will play back at you...most of the hands you'll be folding out are ones that you beat already, like 67cc or pocket threes. So if you're concerned about getting bluffed by those hands on the turn, maybe you bet to prevent that. But really, most players will just check those hands down (because you could be checking behind a much stronger hand like KK, as you said earlier). For most players, the hands that you can bluff out will be restricted to 99,77, 87s/89s, and maybe T9s. Whereas the hands that will be raising or at least peeling includes any ace, TT, 88, T8s, any diamonds, QJ, 97, KJ, J9, JT, QT, KT. If you're ready to fire a second or third barrel on a bunch of turns to get him to fold middle pair or a weak ace, or KJ unimproved, then this c-bet could be profitable. But I'm assuming that you'll just be shutting down on the turn, in which case, again unless your villain is a huge nit, this bet is not profitable. Plus checking behind maybe you bink off a 6 and stack his AT or something.

On the AQ hand, it's just a cooler. You have to call, not only because he could have KQ, but because you're not that far behind 44. You've got 23% equity on the flop, so you've almost got pot odds to call even if he tells you he has 44.