Here's the example situation we'll use throughout this article:
Q♠ T♦ 5♥
The 33% pot-sized c-bet
This size was covered in part 1. Here's a quick recap to refresh your memory:
- The main point of this size is to accomplish protection by making your opponent fold his weakest hands for a cheap price.
- You can bet thinner for value when using this bet size.
- You should use this size when you want to bet with a large part of your range.
- Your opponent's response? He should call with a lot more hands than he would versus a bigger size.
Now, let's go over a size you've probably used many times.
The 66% pot-sized c-bet
Using this size allows you to extract more value than a small c-bet, while still getting protection.
Overall, you should be betting fewer hands when using this size. Also, the specific hands you bet will more clearly be categorized as either a value bet or bluff -- middling hands should be bet far less frequently than when using the small c-bet.
Your opponent should react to this bet size by folding with a lot more hands than he would against the small c-bet. He should still check-raise sometimes, but a lot less often and only with strong value hands -- two-pair or better on Q-T-5 -- or good bluffs. When you face a check-raise, you should continue with your good draws and most (if not all) of your value bets.
On the turn, after being called on the flop, you should follow up with another decent sized bet with a decent portion of your range. Barring a bad runout, you should triple barrel on the river with most of your value hands from the turn. Of course, this triple barrel should be balanced with the appropriate number of effective bluffs.
When c-betting 66% of the pot on Q♠ T♦ 5♥, your range could look something like this:
Pop quiz: Can you think of a reason why we bet ATs here even though it's not strong enough to be bet for value across 3 streets unimproved?
Advantages of the 66% c-bet
1. Getting decent value and protection.
Not only does a bigger bet extract more value when you have a strong hand, but you also gain protection with the more vulnerable hands in your betting range. And this size is small enough that you can comfortably bet some of those vulnerable hands for value (e.g. AT on the Q♠ T♦ 5♥ board). These hands should be checked on the turn unless you hit two pair or trips.
That said, gaining protection with this bet size on Q-T-5 is not as important compared to most other boards (e.g. 8♦ 4♠ 2♠). That is because few hands in your opponent's range have solid equity versus the hands you are betting for value -- whereas basically every hand as at least one overcard on low boards like 8-4-2.
2. Playing on the turn and versus check-raise is easier.
Since your betting range is fairly small and most of your hands have a clear purpose -- whether that purpose is to get value or bluff -- your future decisions are basically already made. For example:
- If you have a value hand or good draw versus a check-raise, you will call.
- If you have a value hand and they call, you will usually follow through with a turn bet.
- If you have a low equity bluff and they check-raise, you will fold.
Disadvantages of the 66% c-bet
1. Not being able to bet for protection and thin value as often.
You are able to bet way fewer hands compared to smaller sizes. So, you have to check a lot, allowing your opponent to see a free turn card.
2. Deciding which hands to c-bet is tougher.
The bluffs and strong value bets are usually easy to identify, but this middling size makes it tough to decide which middling hands to c-bet. For example, we talked about AT being a bet on Q-T-5, but could we bet KT as well? The unsatisfying answer is maybe. It's simply tough to know which middling hands to bet and which to check.
Additionally, balancing your fairly wide value range with the proper number of bluffs isn't as easy compared to when you use a bigger bet size. You have to get a bit more creative with the selection of your bluff hands -- simply using every available straight draw and flush draw will leave you with too few bluffs in your range.
3. Making your opponent's flop decision somewhat easy.
Opponent's decisions are easier versus this size than against smaller sizings. He does not have to worry about check-raising thin for value or floating light as much.
The 100% pot-sized c-bet
This size has a very clear purpose: extracting the maximum when value betting and applying maximum pressure when bluffing.
Each hand you bet for this size will clearly be either a value bet or a bluff -- no more middling hands. You also have carefully select your value hands -- only very strong hands make the cut. Overall you bet fewer hands compared to the 66% c-bet.
Example: c-betting A♥ Q♥ on Q-T-5 but not c-betting Q♥ 9♥
When you face a check-raise, your opponent is representing a lot of strength. So, you can get away with folding a surprising amount of decent draws (like K9) and some decent value hands (like QJ). These hands may seem too strong to fold, but since they are at the bottom of your very strong betting range, you can comfortably fold them.
On the turn, you should usually follow-up with another pot-sized bet which allows you to continue extracting big value with your strong range. You should plan on betting three streets with all of your value hands unless the board changes.
Against such a big size your opponent should respond by folding a lot. He should also check-raise very infrequently since your betting range is so strong.
Here is what a 100% sized continuation-bet range could look like in on Q-T-5:
Note: This is a reasonable but simplified range. A theoretical perfect betting range would still include a few medium strength hands and slightly more diverse bluffs.
Advanced pop quiz: Can you guess why it might make sense to not bet QQ here?
Advantages of the 100% c-bet
1. Getting more value with your very strong hands.
2. Making it tough for your opponent to respond with his draws.
Your opponent gets such a bad price to continue that even a lot of his draws are in trouble against such a big bet.
3. Your opponent might make (more) mistakes against this size.
Opponents are likely not used to facing this bet size since not that many players use it. This could result in them making more mistakes like calling the c-bet too often or not enough.
Similarly, your opponents might not study how to play against this bet size much either.
4. You extract a ton of value versus players who don't pay attention to bet sizes.
5. It's fairly easy to build your betting ranges on each street.
The hands you are betting are very clearly categorized as value or bluff. This means you only have to think about what hands are strong enough to value bet three times and then find bluff candidates to accompany them.
Additionally, you do not have to get creative with your bluffing hands because you do not have many value bets either. You can usually just bluff with your decent draws and that will be enough to balance your range.
The same thing is true on the turn and river. If the board does not change much, you can just keep betting your value hands while giving up with your weakest bluffs on each street.
Disadvantages of the 100% c-bet
1. Not being able to make many thin value/protection bets for this size.
This is the downside to checking hands as strong as Q9 on the Q♠ T♦ 5♥ board. We would prefer to get some value/protection right now.
2. You make your opponent's range very strong.
When you bet this big three times, a decent amount of the hands your opponent calls you down with are going to be super strong. In other words, you lose the maximum when you get coolered.
For example: When your opponent calls down versus three pot sized bets on Q-T-5, they will show up with 5♥ 5♠ a lot more often than if you had bet smaller sizes.
3. It's easy to play against in theory.
This size should be pretty easy to defend against -- in theory, at least -- because your opponent needs to do very little raising and can simply fold a lot of his hands. He does not have to make many decisions.
4. It doesn't make sense on every board.
Unlike the other 2 sizes, this size should, in theory, not be used on certain boards. Not being able to bet a lot of hands and therefore not gaining enough protection is a big downside that is exacerbated on boards like 8-4-2*.
*Editor's note: Solvers actually prefer using large bet sizes on low, disconnected boards like 8-4-2. However, a smaller size makes sense as an exploitative adjustment because, in practice, it is tough to defend correctly versus a small bet on this kind of boards.
On Q♠ T♦ 5♥, however, it is a viable strategy since few hands need protection on this board.
5. You will run into issues on certain turn cards.
A 100% pot c-betting range is more defined than the range for the other bet sizes. This means you run into more issues on turns where either a lot of your draws come in (and you can therefore not bluff enough anymore) or a lot of weaker hands improve (e.g. if the turn is a T♥ on our board).
Now that you've seen some arguments for and against these three common bet sizes, you'll be better equipped to choose optimal sizes while playing.
Keep in mind that, since some points are more significant than others, a larger quantity of advantages doesn't mean a bet size is better, and a larger quantity of disadvantages doesn't mean a bet size is worse. The intention is for you to use the lists above to better understand the bet sizes so you know when each one is most appropriate.
Good luck at the tables!
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