Proper C-Betting sizing is a complex topic, and one that we will cover at length in Course 5: “Flop Play”. But first, we want to point out some common c-betting mistakes found in low-stakes games, and make sure you are not making them yourself.
This really comes down to instinct versus incentive. The problem is that many players have a flawed concept of what their actual incentives are in a given hand, or in poker in general. In short, they are too concerned with protection, and “taking down the pot”, and not concerned enough with playing the hand in the most profitable way.
While it sounds simple, we often need to remind ourselves that the goal of poker is to win the most money; not necessarily win the most pots, or take down pots as soon and as easily as possible.
Many players, especially tighter players, tend to bet far too big on the flop with their very strong hands. Older players in particular have seen a lifetime of bad beats, thus are terrified of getting drawn out on. They are emotionally conditioned. They see all sorts of monsters under the bed.
Not all hands require the same level of protection. If you are holding pocket Kings against one opponent, on a flop of 3-5-9 rainbow, why does the bet need to be so large?
Always revert back to what you learned in Course 1: you make money in poker by forcing your opponents into mistakes. Betting large with big hands on dry flops can often do the opposite. It can give your opponents easy folds with hands that have very little equity against yours.
If you are a player who is constantly betting the size of the pot, or close to it, on the flop, then you really need to look in the mirror and examine the reasons why you might be doing that…
- Are you really trying to get the most value out of your hand?
- Or, are you afraid of getting sucked out on, and want to just win the pot right now?
When deciding on C-Betting sizing, really start to consider your opponent's likely calling ranges. If all of the following is true:
- The board is not draw-heavy
- There are lots of likely hands that will call for a smaller size, but not a bigger size
- If they would fold a lot of those hands to a larger C-Bet size
- Or if most of his hands have little equity against yours...
...Then you should really start incorporating some smaller C-Bet sizes in those spots; more like ⅓ to ½ pot range.