Strategy: Continuation Bet Sizing

Strategy: Continuation Bet Sizing

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I've watched a lot of high stakes play and the top players almost always continuation bet close to 5/6ths of the pot. This never made sense to me because I know that 2/3 is the most that is necessary against the vast majority of opponents. This eventually came to me as a bit of an epiphany.

Anyways, here are some scenarios. Assume in all of them that I have no showdown value at all:

Suppose my opponent raises to 90, I call. The flop comes A27. He cbets 30 into 180. I can raise this to 150 and usually push out everything except the ace or possibly the seven. I need to win this 41.7% of the time for it to be profitable.

Suppose my opponent raises to 90, I call. The flop comes A27. He cbets 120 into 180, I raise to 300. This is a pretty simple raise - I need to win 50% of the time for it to be profitable.

Suppose my opponent raises to 90, I call. The flop comes A27. He cbets 150 into 180, I raise to 440. I need to win this 57.1% of the time for it to be profitable.

In my experience, bluff raises are almost non-existent in the low and mid-stakes games. However, beyond this they are very common. It is necessary both to prevent your opponent from walking over you with cbets as well as to balance your range. As the games are getting harder I suspect that it will become much more prevalent in the lower stakes games as well.

How to use this to your advantage:
Your cbet sizing needs to reflect your opponent's style of play. TAG, LAG, LAP, TAP, whatever.

Against Tight/Passive players:
These guys are by far the easiest. You want to cbet FREQUENTLY (probably 100%) and you want to cbet small. Your cbets will be extremely profitable because they will fold most of their hands. On the hands where they don't fold, they will generally call rather than raise which still gives us a chance to outdraw them without putting more money in the pot.

Against Tight/Aggressive players:
You want to cbet frequently again, but against these guys you want to cbet bigger. This way, you are taking advantage of their tight selection while discouraging them from making moves. The bigger bet may push his decision with 87ss on A85 from raise to call.

Against Loose/Passive players:
These guys tend to be huge fish. Against these types of players you only want to cbet hands that are ahead of their range and you want to do it as big as they will give you value for. The bigger bet in this scenario is not to prevent a raise but is in order to extract the most value from their loose hand selection.

Against Loose/Aggressive players:
Up until recently these guys have been my downfall, and probably the biggest reason for this was my lack of understanding for cbet sizing. I was cbetting to try to induce raises, but I wasn't considering how to prevent the raises when I knew I was behind. Against these players you want to BIG and less frequently. I'm not saying rarely because I think cbetting is EXTREMELY profitable against almost any type of opponent, but if the guy is killing you by check/raising every hand then it may be a good idea to check behind sometimes and take advantage of it. Following the examples above, we want to be cbetting bigger against these guys so that their reraises will be as unprofitable as possible.

Ryan Dodge is an online pro as well as a poker coach who specialises in heads-up SnGs. Those interested in getting tuition should see here for further information, or can email him direct on

Tags: Poker News, Strategy:, Continuation, Bet, Sizing