A quick way to increase your win-rate is to improve your c-betting strategy in 3-bet pots. This article series will help you get ahead of your competition by improving your understanding of these crucial spots.
In this first part, we'll take a look at c-betting in position (IP) as the 3-bettor on two different types of flops. In part 2, we'll examine c-betting out of position (OOP) as the 3-bettor on the same two types of flops so you can see the differences in action.
Let’s get started!
C-Betting IP as the Preflop 3-Bettor
The Coordinated Flop
You are playing 100NL online with 100BB effective stacks. The cutoff raises to $2.50 and you 3-bet from the button to $9. Everyone else folds and the cutoff calls.
Your range going into the flop is TT+, AJs+, KQs, AQo+, A7s, A6s, A3s, A2s, 86s, 75s, 65s, and 54s, visualized here:
And the cutoff's range is TT-44, AQs-A9s, A5s, K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, 76s, AQo-AJo, KQo, visualized here:
Now, let's take a look at the PIOSolver solution for you on the button in this spot (assuming the cutoff checks on the Q♥ J♥ 8♠ flop):
Here's a quick summary of the solver's strategy:
- C-bet 80% of the time, check back 20% of the time.
- Every hand is a c-bet at some frequency.
- Mostly use a c-bet size of 33% pot.
When the solver recommends such a high c-betting frequency, I usually like to simplify the strategy by c-betting 100% of the time. This simplified strategy is much easier to implement and only leads to a loss of 0.5% of the pot compared to the solver's mixed strategy.
Now, let's figure out why the solver plays this way so we can improve our general understanding of this spot. We'll do this by asking a series of questions about how these ranges stack up versus each other (ordered from most to least consequential).
Question 1. Who has the equity advantage?
Your equity on the button is 48% versus the cutoff's range on this flop -- a slight disadvantage. This means there must be another factor driving the solver's solution.
Question 2. Who has the nut advantage?
Now, we have to compare both players' range compositions to see who's range has more combinations of super-strong hands.
Both players' ranges are comprised of just under 7% of super-strong hands (two-pair or better), which means neither player has a nut advantage. When this happens, we need to dive deeper and look at the strong draws in each range.
Question 3. Who has more strong draws?
Let's see the breakdown of the draws in each player's range:
We again see neutrality, here, as both players' ranges are comprised of about 9% draws.
When both players' ranges have very similar compositions and equities, we can conclude that the driving factor for the solver's aggressive c-betting strategy is your positional advantage on the button.
Now let’s consider what happens when the flop is uncoordinated.
The Uncoordinated Flop
Again, this example hand takes place at 100NL online with 100BB effective stacks. The cutoff raises to $2.50 and you 3-bet from the button to $9. Everyone else folds and the cutoff calls.
With $19 in the pot, the flop comes: Q♦ 7♠ 5♥.
Using the same preflop ranges as before, let's take a look at the PIOSolver solution:
This time the solver's strategy is to c-bet 95%+ of the time, mostly for a 33% pot bet size.
There is no room for interpretation or simplification here. You have a huge equity advantage on this board -- 58%, to be exact -- which you can capitalize on by firing a c-bet every time.
As always, you can and should adjust these theoretically sound strategies if you have a specific and reliable read.
For example, if you know the cutoff will probe bet as a bluff on the turn at a high frequency, you should check with more strong hands to give him the chance to fire a bet. Or, if you know the cutoff will rarely check-raise on the flop, you should use a larger bet size than 33% pot to build the pot with your superior range.
Click here to read part 2 of this article series, in which we will cover OOP play on the flop as the 3-bettor.
Note: Get your access to the actual ranges, theory, and tactics used by world-class poker pros when you join the Upswing Lab.