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Poker strategy: Tricky spots when you should avoid c-betting!

Author: Pokeradmin

Publish: 2023-01-19 15:56:56

Poker strategy: Tricky spots when you should avoid c-betting!

In general in online poker, we can state that most flops favour the preflop aggressor. However, it is so untrue in certain spots that we prefer to check our entire range. The main thing to understand here is range interaction.

Poker C-bet Strategy

What are the general characteristics of these spots?

First, you need to compare how the ranges interact with certain flops. We are looking for a considerable nut advantage on the caller's side. What cards will be surplus to a defending range that the aggressor lacks? No matter if it's a single raised pot or a 3-bet pot. Usually, low cards, especially connected cards, will favour the defender.

Another essential factor is position since the opener/3-bettor will have an informational disadvantage if he is out of position.

These two added up causes a lot of headaches if you have any c-betting on boards that heavily favour the in-position, defending player. There are other unique spots, such as monotone boards, etc. They sometimes coincide in the characteristics of the above-discussed situations.

For now, we'll work with the most common ones.

What exact spots?

#1 Blind versus blind

The most common situation will be when we open from the SB and the BB calls. We'll open roughly 38-45% of the hands in small stakes, and the BB will defend around the same by calling.

The main difference between the ranges getting to the flop is that BB lacks high pocket pairs and strong preflop hands like AK, AQ, KQs, etc. On the other hand, the BB will have more suited hands and low, connected cards such as 74s, 52s, 87o, etc.

The conclusion is that low, connected boards (and monotone boards, especially with an ace on the board) will heavily favour the BB. In some cases surpasses the SB in possible straights and two pairs. Consider the following flop: {#}6 {#}5 {#}4

SB c-bet strategy on {#}6 {#}5 {#}4

The BB will have 87o (~12 combos), 32s (4 combos), 65o (~12 combos), and 54o (~12 combos). Approximately 40 combos in total, which the SB doesn't have. This is a huge advantage. Add to this that the board is super dynamic, which means that almost any turn (and river) card will change the EQ distribution. The ranges are super wide, and SB is also out of position, which leads to an informational disadvantage on each street. An absolute nightmare to start to build a pot here as the small blind. Instead, we should simplify our strategy and check our entire range.

#2 SB vs BTN in 3-bet pots

The second most common situation where we must check frequently is similar to blind versus blind play. When we 3-bet from the SB against a BTN open and get called, we'll be out of position, lacking the same type of low cards that give BTN sets and straights as nutted hands. Only the stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) is lower, which on one hand makes it easier to put a lot of money in the middle. On the other hand, our entire stack will be at risk in unfavourable situations.

Compare the given preflop ranges and how they interact with a low, connected board like

SB 3b v BTN open (blue - 100%, yellow – mixed)

Poker Range

BTN call v SB3b (blue – 100%, yellow - mixed)

#3 OOP as PFR

The following is a less common spot nowadays, as there are better strategies than cold calling in position. However, there are certain spots where it is +EV, and besides that, certain players elect to play with a pretty wide (15-20%) cold-calling range in position.

It is very important how the cold calling range is structured. The first candidates that come to mind will be small pocket pairs and suited connectors. These types of hands are somewhere in between, meaning they are not good enough to always 3-bet them, but they do have the potential to develop into nutted hands. Moreover, they are relatively easy to play postflop.

Another part of the cold calling range might contain Axs hands and some broadway type hands as well. Of course, you'll never know your opponent's exact range, but checking the amount they cold call will give you a rough idea. I suggest playing around with Equilab or a similar tool to understand what hands Villain's range might contain.

However, one thing is very likely, even if you don't know your opponent or even if he didn't have a cold-calling hand yet. The first candidates will be the aforementioned small pocket pairs and suited connectors, which leads to the same unfavourable situation. Namely, we'll be out of position on a low, connected board lacking the nutted hands that Villain will "always" have and with a high SPR, which is the worst-case scenario we can imagine.


The most crucial notion is range interaction here. You might want to memorize this because it'll also become handy in other situations. Most of the time, the preflop aggressor will have the range and nut advantage. Thus his strategy will be very flexible and free, containing many small bets with the entire range or using huge bets on each street, etc. However, there are a few spots when the flop favours the defender. Common characteristics of these spots are that the preflop aggressor is out of position, lacking several hands that give possible nut advantage. In contrast, the defender will have all or almost all of these hands. Low-connected boards are prime examples, with an extra feature of many possible board changers on the turn and river.

We didn't go into deeply monotone boards, but there are some similarities. I suggest analyzing how both players' ranges interact with the flop, recognizing if it's unfavourable for you as the preflop raiser/3-bettor and checking your entire range.

That's it for today. Good luck at the tables!

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