You raise preflop and the Big Blind (BB) calls. When the BB checks, do you know how often you're supposed to continuation bet (c-bet) on the flop?
At this point you're probably thinking, "Well it depends!" and "I need more information."
And you'd be absolutely right!
You need to know the stack sizes, your position, the stage of the tournament and what the flop is!
But how often, on average, do you think you're supposed to continuation bet? (As the preflop raiser when you're playing a heads up (HU) pot against the Big Blind regardless of stack sizes and the flop)
Would you be surprised if I said, "85%"?
Take a look at your own database now and see if you're continuation betting (c-betting) as much as this. I'm going to be fairly confident that your number will be a lot lower, maybe 74% or 78%, but never as high as 85%!
A lot of people believe they c-bet a lot... but your database will tell you the truth!
(Comment down below if your in position c-betting frequency in HU pots vs the BBis as high as 85%!)
I ran some analysis across 6 different stack sizes (15bb, 20bb, 25bb, 30bb, 40bb and 60bb) and 184 different flops and discovered some interesting things:
Flop c-bet IP % target from the 'Identifying Your Own Leaks' module
As you might expect, the Early Position (EP) vs Big Blind c-bet is much higher at ~88%. The average Button (BTN) vs BB c-bet is much lower at ~81%.
There's also a correlation between the strength of your range and how often you should continuation bet. Are you continuation betting more frequently the stronger your range (i.e. the earlier your position)? If you don't have a database of hands, do you think you're continuation betting more from EP vs BB than you are BTN vs BB?
These are two very common leaks. And you can fix them pretty quickly.
When I work with clients 1 on 1, or take on new members to MTT Poker Academy, I'll always complete a leak finding exercise with them. I've actually just added the 'Identifying Your Own Leaks' video series to my course, MTT Game Changer too!
Identifying leaks is just the start, though.
Once you've discovered your weaknesses, you have to make a plan to fix them...
At MTT Poker School, the system is simple:
When you know how to IDENTIFY your leaks, DEVISE a clear plan to fix them and then OPTIMISE the study process, you’ll have all the tools you need to rapidly develop into the poker player you want to be. We'll help you create a clear framework to help you quickly learn the important habits, systems and routines required to improve your game.
So you've discovered that you're not c-betting anywhere near enough when you're in position* against the BB.
*I keep mentioning post-flop position here because when you're out of position as the preflop raiser, you should be c-betting much less. I'll discuss this in another article because it's also a very common leak.
OK so you want to learn to c-bet the flop more frequently... where do you start?
Well the first thing is to identify the flops where you should c-bet close to 100% of the time. Sometimes this is referred to as a range bet, but that term can get confusing. I think a common misconception is that a 'range bet' is a small c-bet that you make with 100% of your range. This isn't necessarily true. Sometimes your range wants to bet close to 100% of the time, but it won't be for a small size. Take ABB (like AQJ or AKQ) or BBB (KQJ, QJT) boards, for example. You should c-bet 100% of the time, mainly for a big size, but there are some small bets too.
The idea of grouping flops is really important for this process. I've already mentioned flops like ABB or BBB, but I've come up with a set of 13, as below:
2 Broadway (KQ3, QJ6)
ABB (AKQ, AJT)
ABx (AQ2, AT3)
Axx (A64, A97)
BBB (KQJ, QJT)
J/T high connected (J97, JT8)
J/T high + 2 rags (J62, J83)
K/Q high + 2 rags (K82, Q64)
Low connected (865, 764)
Low unconnected (932, 842)
Paired (AA5, 944)
Trips (AAA, TTT)
Back to the boards that you should c-bet a lot...
Graphic from Flop Strategy as the Preflop Raiser 2.0 Module
From the chart above you can see the average c-betting frequencies for EP vs BB 40bb across the different flop types and textures. Boards like 2 broadway, ABB, ABx, K/Q high + 2 rags and J/T high + 2 rags are are c-bet at least 90% of the time.
Filter your own database to have a look at what you're doing on these boards. Are you opening from EP and then checking back any hands on AKQfd, for example? Hands like 66, 55 and 44 are great bluffs here - you can get better pairs to fold (all the way up to 99), plus hands like Kx and Qx with no draw or back door draw. The BB should massively overfold on this kind of board because your range is just so strong. You have a huge equity advantage (about 68%) and a much bigger proportion of your range is very strong (i.e. 2 pair+) - sometimes known as a nut advantage.
Step 1: identify the flops where you should c-bet a lot
Step 2: see what you're currently doing on these boards
Step 3: make sure you understand the 'why'
Step 4: don't continue to check back these boards!
This will probably already increase your c-bet frequency significantly.
Quick hack: Big equity and nut advantage? C-bet the flop a lot!
There's obviously a lot more that we could talk about when it comes to continuation betting the flop. The key idea is that identifying the leak is only the start. Find stats that are a long way from where they need to be. If your IP c-bet stat is a lot lower than 85% then you know that's where you want to focus your attention.
If you're looking for a clear system and framework to quickly identify both preflop and postflop leaks so you know where to start, check out my course, MTT Game Changer, my academy, MTT Poker Academy or get in touch to discuss my 12-week 1:1 program.
Good luck out there!