Continuation Betting In Multi-Way Pots

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I recently received this question from Sal who asked: “How do I know how to properly size c-bets against certain opponents in multi-way pots?”

This is a great question. It’s primarily a question that follows once you have a basic grasp on how to properly c-bet. You really should have a pretty solid understanding of how to c-bet before you begin to worry too much about the details, bet sizing being a large detail.

Looking for a basic primer on continuation betting? Start with this CBing guide.

A lot of the time when it comes to c-betting and choosing the size of that c-bet most players have a default strategy, they are going to use sizes like 1/2 pot, 2/3 pot or 75% pot. They will also primarily use that baseline size for every single situation. Granted there is some merit to choosing a static bet size for this spot. Simply because it will come up repetitively with double and triple barrels. It is one of those where most players choose to become really really static in it. Of course there are going to be situations where being dynamic and changing that bet size based upon the exact situation, the exact texture, your hand versus your opponents range that sort of thing, is certainly going to be more beneficial and fwiw I typically don’t recommend being purely static in this spot.

Let’s think more about what the exact bet size is going to create and what it is that you actually what to accomplish in a given spot.

For example, a lot of players will just c-bet for half pot simply because that is what they always do. Whether they are betting AA as an overpair or AK as Ace-high, they’re just going to fire this half pot bet. We want to be really careful of that because that can work but is it necessarily the best bluff size in this situation. Or, if you’re doing it for value is it truly the most valuable bet size in these kinds of situations. Often times you are going to find that you can tweak that size and have it be more profitable if you’re able to pay more attention.

So one way to improve is during your session you want to be aware of how other players are c-betting and what they are accomplishing especially in multi-way pots. If you’re playing online you can always go back and review hands in the replayer, but if you’re playing live you really need to pay a lot of attention in these spots. So if your eye’s are glued to the football game on the TV you need to shift your focus to the table and notice how things are playing out in these multi-way pots. You are going to see a lot of multi-way pots in live games especially $1/$2 and $2/$5, so you definitely want to make sure you are paying attention, and watch how people are responding. Are people responding in a fold-y way to any bet regardless of the size? Or, are people continuing with things like half-pot bet sizes but are playing more cautious against things like full pot bet sizes. Or, are they calling a lot more simply because it is the flop but they’re playing more protective and reserved on future streets. If so, of course, make sure you are considering things like double and triple barrels.

The first major thing I always consider is what range is my opponent getting to the flop with and how likely are they continuing on this particular board. Certain board textures are going to get continued on a large chunk of the time but other textures are going to be more difficult to hit and you may find players folding more often on them. If players are calling preflop with set mines and suited connectors if the board comes really high like AJ9, it is going to be difficult for them to continue a large chunk of the time and so I am much more likely to apply pressure regardless of what I have.

Does 55 really like facing a CB on A♣ J♥ 9♠?

Whereas if you are playing against players who call any Ace preflop or any Broadway card preflop all of a sudden those high boards are going to start connecting with them far more often. Probably going to make it more difficult to get them to fold and thus bluffing is going to be pretty futile.

That is a lot of what it boils down to is if the bluff isn’t really going to be all that valuable you’re probably not going to be bluffing all that much in this exact situation. Which means that when you do bet you’re probably more in the value side of the spectrum and exactly what strength of value is certainly up for debate, but chances you’re going to be stronger. If that is the case and you’re expecting that your range is stronger than your opponent’s continuing range then that is when I normally suggest going for the much larger raise size.

So where a lot of players would stick with their traditional 1/2 pot or 2/3 pot bet I might just make mine closer to pot. Thinking I am going to have a large edge going into future streets, knowing I am betting for value and knowing that it is going to be very valuable against them. Also keeping in mind that they’re going to make that continuous mistake because that’s just what they do.

You do NOT always need to use the same bet size. Consider your goal, your opponent’s weaknesses, and exploit them accordingly.

Now on the other side of the coin when you’re able to bluff more often because your opponents either fold too much or it’s a good texture compared to their range then you can represent it quite well. From there it is just a question of how much do I have to risk in order to get this away with this bluff? I would also ask myself how much would I bet here if I were betting for value and try to make those number a little bit closer and not so-so far apart. Now, this is important when you are playing against players who can hand read or think and not so crucial against unseasoned players who you can be more straightforward against.

Another thing that I always keep in mind is my double barrel plan. I look at a board and I say okay if I bet here what are they likely to continue with and if I just bet the turn regardless are they going to be continuing a large chunk of the time, or not. I am trying to think one step ahead, thinking about can a I barrel this? Is this going to be a situation where I can create a lot of profit even if my cards don’t matter really matter all that much? Simply because my opponent is folding way too often. When they are not folding you need to be more cognitive of your cards and your value. When they are folding too often then your cards don’t matter that much you are just looking for good bluff opportunities where you can fire bullets.

If I look at a board I ask myself the following. “Assume I bet here for 2/3 pot and they are going to continue a large chunk of the time. But if I fire the second shell and a lot of turn cards aren’t going to change the texture much – are they going to hate life if they face that second shell for a large 3/4+ sized bet?”

If yes, then I just plan to double barrel right then and there and choose a bet size on the flop that doesn’t apply so much pressure that they only continue with hands that wouldn’t fold to the double barrel.

That can be very very profitable. You notice though that we are not just betting randomly, we’re not just choosing random sizes but we are thinking what those sizes accomplish and whether or not it is going to beneficial to fire those specific sizes, or to even fire at all.

One of the most important things when it comes to this kind of spot is actually having a decent ability to place your opponent on a proper range hands preflop. Ask yourself what did they call your preflop raise with? Then know how that range hits the board and think about how it is going to react to your bet. If you can’t do that then you are just guessing in situations. Then your bet size isn’t really all that important because what does it matter you’re just guessing. So we need to get better at this skill set of assigning a range, understanding how that range hits the board and then making a strategic decision based upon that output. It takes time and it also takes a lot of practice with tools like Flopzilla, but it is something you want to get used to. And if you’re looking to practice that skill set my workbook is really beneficial for that.

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You can work on things like:

1. Placing your opponent on a range preflop

2. Working through that range and seeing how it hits flops

3. Then start figuring out a plan to bet

4. When to consider double and triple barrels

5. Start working on choosing correct bet sizes through each street

When its multi-way in these situations, you can multiply how often you think both the players would fold together and that gives you the number of how often you can expect both players to fold right this moment. So, if you think one player will fold 80% to your c-bet size and the other player will fold half to that, you multiple 80% x 50% and you see 40% success rate. That is how often you can expect both players to fold right this moment. That’s very good information because when you are bluffing you of course what those folds. You can simply compare the breakeven of your bet size to how often you think that success rate is going to go through in terms of them folding and then deduce from there what is going to be best. Remember different bets sizes produce different breakeven percentages; a half pot bet size needs to work 1/3 of the time to break even and a full pot bet size needs to work 50% of the time to break even and you need to know those numbers like the back of your hand.

Again if you’re looking to work on this stuff I highly recommend picking up the workbook and working through a bunch of hands from section two. Either way, make sure you are working on this, and working with tools like Flopzilla. Or just simply understanding how different ranges catch the board and understanding that very simple formula of how often is each player folding multiplied by each other gives you the success rate of how often you can expect folds right this moment. That is very valuable when you are considering that bluff.

This is all skill you build through practice and it takes time and effort. I assure you it makes your real-time decision making a so much easier and of course much more profitable.

Thanks Sal for the question hopefully this gets you started when you’re choosing your bet size in a multi-way pot. If you have comments or questions please don’t hesitate to let me know, you can go to www.splitsuit.com/ask and get in touch with me. Good luck out there and Happy Grinding.

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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