Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thank You for Not C-Betting

On my late summer Vegas visit, I played poker with Pete Peters three times.  You’ve already read about the second time (see here) and the third time (begins here).  But what about the first time, I hear you asking. Well, your long wait is over, here it is.

It was just the two of us.  OK, technically, there were usually seven other players at the table, but of the people you know, it was just PPP and me.  And we were sitting right next to each other.  The trouble with playing right next to Pete is that I was having such a good time chatting with him, I didn’t pay as much attention to the poker as I should have.  My notes are kind of sketchy, and I probably missed some opportunities to make some plays.

But who cares, when you’re having fun?  Pete told me all sorts of great stories.  I believe we might have discussed one or more fellow bloggers.  Not sure.  He also sold me on how great it is to be a powerful attorney working for a Washington, DC law firm.  In fact, after talking to him, I was very tempted to give up all my poker-related jobs and enroll in law school so I could eventually become a junior associate in his prestigious law firm.  But I decided I was just a few years too old to go for such a dramatic career-change.  If only I was three years younger….

One problem I would have, if I made the move, is that I don’t think I could manage all the drinking necessary to do the job.  Learning the law would be a piece of cake.  Drinking to the extent that Pete did in his recent post here?  Probably not doable.  And by the way, I insist you click that link and read the post there, if you haven’t already.  It details a night of excessive drinking that is beyond belief.  It is also the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.  Seriously, if this is the funniest thing you’ve read on the internet since Windows 3.1 came out, Pete will gladly refund your money.

But I did somehow make some money this session.  Early on I had pocket 4’s three times within about a dozen hands (less, I think).  Limped in, missed.  Called a raise, missed.  The last time was the most interesting. Both my 4’s were red.  The pot was limped.  The flop was all hearts.  No one bet.  The turn was another heart, giving me a little baby flush.  Again, no one bet.  The river was a blank that didn’t pair the board.  Someone bet $10, someone called.  I didn’t think my flush was any good, but for a measly ten bucks I figured I could get a drawing ticket for the cash drawing, because, after all, I’m a drawing ticket ho’.  To my surprise, my four of hearts was the only heart shown.  The initial bettor had Ace-high, and the other guy had a low pair.  I got a ticket and the pot. 

I called a $12 raise with Ace-10 of diamonds in the small blind.  The flop had two diamonds.  I checked and called $17.  The turn was another diamond.  I decided to go for the check-raise.  He bet $35, I made it $85 and he folded.  I showed my flush to get another drawing ticket.  The dealer said, “It’s easy to play when you have the nuts, isn’t it?”  Can’t argue with that.

Then came the eerie hand.  You see, Pete had been playing at the table for some time before I joined him, and had amassed a pretty big stack.  But since I got there, he had been losing.  He seemed to be good luck for me, but I was bad luck for him.  One of the ways he had been losing money was by double-barreling.  Not just making the c-bet on the flop, but betting the turn again when he had air.  We had a long discussion about that, and I said I rarely fired the second barrel. I was planning to talk more about it in this post, but when I was doing my research for it, I went back and read Pete’s version of this night (here), and I see that he did a very thorough discussion of the double-barrel there, so I won’t repeat it.  And by the way, this evening took place before I had seen that Ed Miller video I talked about here.  One of Miller’s “rules” is that if you bet on one street, you should bet on the next street (mostly).  If you call on one street you should call (or raise) on the next street (again, most of the time).  This means I might start firing more second barrels in the future.  But at this point, I wasn’t doing that.

Now, if you read Pete’s old post, you will see that he gives an example of a hand where he has pocket 8’s.  He gave me this same example at the table this night.  And here’s the eerie part.  Within a minute of him mentioning the example hand of pocket 8’s, I looked down at my cards and saw 7-2 offsuit.

No, no, no.  I did indeed see pocket 8’s. Why couldn’t he have mentioned pocket Aces?  Well, at least he didn’t mention pocket Kings.

A guy raised to $12 and another player called and so did I.  The raiser was a guy I recognized, played with him before, and considered him a tough player, and fairly aggressive.  So when the flop came Queen or Jack high, no 8, I was surprised that he didn’t c-bet.  The other guy checked too.  The turn was a blank and no one bet.  The river was another blank and no one bet.  The raiser showed Ace-King, in other words, nothing.  The other guy mucked when he saw the first guy’s Ace.  My pocket 8’s were good.

I was shocked the guy had never fired even a single barrel, let alone two.  At that point I almost definitely would have laid down my 8’s to his bet with at least one over card on the board.  I commented to Pete about the guy not c-betting, and it sort of tied into our discussion of how many barrels to fire.  In this case, zero was definitely not the right number.  Thanks for not c-betting, sir, appreciate it. 

Flash forward two nights to the poker session with PPP, Coach and Alysia Chang.  There was a hand where I called a raise with Ace-Queen.  Again, the raiser didn’t c-bet on a fairly dry board. He didn’t bet any street, it was checked down.  He showed Ace-Jack and I took the pot.  A c-bet from him would have earned him the pot.  Instead, I took it, thank you very much.  Zero barrels is definitely not the right number.

A bit later, with a stack of around $300 (up from $200), I called a raise to $10 with Ace-2 of spades.  Three of us saw the flop, which contained two spades.  The preflop raiser bet $25, sitting on a stack of about $150.  The next guy made it $75.  He had about $200 before he bet.  To prove to you that I’m not a total drawing ticket ho’, I did fold there, rather than chase the nut flush at bad odds.  The guy who bet first folded, so I never found out if I would have hit the flush.

Last hand to talk about, it was getting late, the drawing was getting close, and I was still up over $100.  I limped in with Ace-Jack of hearts in late position.  I admit it, the limp was because I wanted to hit a flush and get another ticket.  A whole bunch of us saw the flop, there was no raise.  It was a great flop for me—Ace high, the other two cards were hearts.  A guy bet $10 and I was the only caller.  A blank hit the turn, he bet $10 again and called.  A third heart hit the river, he bet $10 yet again.  I made it $25.  He said, “I guess I know what that means,” and folded.  I showed my nut flush to get a ticket.

Alas, none of my tickets were picked, but I left up over $100.  It was a fun nite, I had a great time playing with PPP and had some interesting discussions about c-bets and double barreling.  We didn’t resolve anything about how many barrels to fire, but the value of c-betting was proven.


  1. "He also sold me on how great it is to be a powerful attorney working for a Washington, DC law firm . . ."

    Are you sure you weren't talking to Pete G. Peters ("PGP")? Because that don't sound like me!

    I don't think I've double barreled since I got home from that trip. I've almost given up on the C-Bet . . . at least playing at the Shoe in Baltimore recently. There are so many preflop callers, and the pots so bloated, that the C-bet seems like a net loser, unless you have a great spot for it. A double barrel and you'd be playing for stacks . . . I think my game is more suited for the Vegas style of play . . . $7 to $8 preflop raises . . . one or two callers . . . $20 pot on the flop . . . .

    1. Heh heh...it's possible you caught me in a little fib for comedic effect.

      Regarding the c-bet, if there's more than two others in the pot, it's pretty hard to pull it off. You know SOMEONE is gonna call.

    2. I wondered about you selling Rob on being a powerful D.C. attorney the second that I read that line... :)

  2. Hi Rob/P Cube,

    Whether to C Bet or Not is also dependent on the players involved and the type of raises at the table.

    It is true that there is no single way of playing a specific hand, but, we can at least make an effort to generalize it to some extent.

    1. At the minimum I would make one C Bet. As indicated by Rob it is not always true that people would hit a pair on the flop or call with a pair. So, depending on the texture I would throw in a CBet and continue the story as long as there is no resistance.
    2. If the table is hyper aggressive then I would only make a C Bet if the flop texture helps my hand, as a semi bluff, otherwise I would shut down. Case in point if you are playing either Live or Shoe there are always a few hyper-aggressive tables and I would use my C Bet only with semi bluff hands.
    3. I also saw people make C Bets with a minimal amount. If there is no resistance they would continue with this. Many times I have seen people pay one street and give up even for a minimal bet on later streets. When you are using this kind of play, it is better to keep a close eye on the board texture and evaluate what hands would beat you on all streets. If there is resistance this helps in identifying the same.
    4. Also, when you play AX kind of hands, if you miss the flop and turn and the guy called you on a two to flush board on flop and turn and all of sudden leads big on the river, your A high might be good most of the time. It is value of the bet that tells you whether he is doing this substance or just air.

    As they say, if the bets sounds suspicious, then it definitely is!