Continuation bet success rate?

by PokerAnon ~ January 24th, 2011. Filed under: Instructional posts, Poker theory, Rush/Zoom Poker.


How often does my continuation bet on the flop need to be successful for it to be worthwhile?

This is basic and important information, but I had forgotten how the calculation works. It seemed like a good time to review.

~

I was looking at some recent $10nl FR Rush poker stats in my tracker and noted my c-bet rate was 89%. Pretty high, but that’s a function of two things. One is that I open from the cutoff 48%, from the button 57%, and from the small blind 49%. This means that my hand strength is very wide so my average hand strength is weak. This weak average hand strength in turn means that often the only way that I can win the pot on the flop is to bet, with the plan to fold if I get raised or if I get called and then bet into on the turn or river.

Another factor is that I open raise all pocket pairs from all positions. If I open raise 33 from early position and get called, the flop will have at least two if not three overcards. I turn my hand into a bluff, much like the weak opening from late position and I bet/fold almost every flop. Essentially the only times that I don’t continuation bet is when I get more than one caller, or on rare circumstances when I have a hand on the flop I might not see a reason to bet. This includes way ahead/way behind situations, as well as situations where I have little risk of being outdrawn and I want to induce the opponent to have confidence to bet or to call bets later when they might otherwise just fold to a flop bet.

Anyway, along with the 89% c-bet rate, my c-bet success rate is at 49%. This means that half the time that I c-bet, my opponent folds. Is 49% that a good rate?

Answer: it depends. The other variable is the size of the c-bet.

Say the blinds are 0.05/0.10, I raise to 0.30 and am called by the small blind. The big blind folds. There is now 0.10 + 0.05 + 0.30 + 0.25 = 0.70 in the pot (before rake). If I make a 100% c-bet of 0.70 I’m risking 0.70 to win the existing pot of 0.70. It’s pretty easy to see that to break even I have to win half the time. If we do this 10 times I risk 10 x 0.70 = 7.00, and I win 50% of the time I get the pot 5 times and I get my bet back those 5 times, so 0.70 x 5  = 3.50 plus 0.70 x 5  = 3.50 gives a net of 7.00.

Or, 5 times I get called and my 3.50 goes into the pot, and 5 times my opponent folds and my money doesn’t go into the pot but I win 3.50, which offsets the 3.50 that it cost me the times that I’m called and overall I break even. Note that the pot before our bet is the prize but we do not consider our contribution to the pot. The money that we invested preflop is a sunk cost. It’s gone. It bought us an opportunity to play but it’s no longer ours and now we disregard it as a cost.

Going back to the first calculation method we take the pot, add our bet, and divide our bet by that total. Pot is 100%, our bet is 100%, divide 100% by (100% + 100%) = 200% = 50%, or half the time is how often we need to win. If we win more often than that, then in the long run we are winning money.

And we can continue the calculation for other bet sizes. If my average bet size is less than 100%, then my 49% c-bet success rate is winning me money. Most of the time I use just over half pot for almost all c-bets at Rush Poker. My average might be 55%, which requires at least a 35% success rate, so I’m probably okay. In regular cash games I make that a little bigger. My default bet size on the flop is 75% and on the turn it’s 60%, though I almost always adjust that one way or the other slightly. The larger size is for two reasons. One is that the standard bet sizes tend to be larger than at $10nl Rush, and the other is that I’m more often playing against full stacks at regular cash games so I want to look as if I’m always trying to deny implied odds when the effective stack sizes are deeper. In Rush Poker the stack sizes are often shorter plus the opponents are always changing so they won’t notice that I always use smaller bet sizes.

At the end of the examples I’ve included a 15% pot bet size. Sometimes you run into player who calls a preflop raise then bets out a minimum or tiny bet on the flop. If you raise, they may fold. But they only need you to fold 13% of the time with a 15% pot sized bet. That’s probably not what they’re thinking (if indeed they are thinking at all) but it’s interesting to know.

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