Carter “ckingusc” King won the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker in 2008 for $1.2 million and has since continued to consistently cash in online’s biggest tournaments. To remain successful on the virtual felt, being creative and implementing new, effective strategies is essential. Carter King sat down with PokerNews to talk about continuation betting small in three-bet pots in tournaments.
Concept: When your three-bet is called preflop, try continuation betting small, around one-third pot.
Why is this a good idea?
It just gives you so much more room to play, especially because of the finite stacks of tournament poker. What you see is what you get. If you continuation bet small, you have much more stack left to play and use to your advantage. Giving yourself more ways to win the pot is always going to be beneficial. When you start adding those one-third pot bets to your repertoire of plays, you really open up the post-flop game in three-bet pots.
The small bet saves you money when you have to fold, and when you’re betting for value, it usually won’t hold you back from being able to get all the money in by the river because tournament stacks allow it. Increasing post-flop play and putting opponents in awkward positions is so important in tournament play these days.
Why stray from the conventional rules of continuation betting?
A lot of people are so used to the rules of betting two-thirds pot or half pot. People are so afraid of giving something away by their bet sizing, but if you’re a good, thinking player and you have an understanding of what your bets appear as and what you can do with the size of your bets. Of course everyone knows that on the river, you can pot or two times it, but it seems like up until the river, players fall into really specific betting patterns. I think it’s good to be able to mix it up.
What other benefits are there?
The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be playing in three-bet pots. It will allow you to three-bet more often, too. In a situation where you might not normally three-bet because you are worried about committing yourself with a bigger c-bet, you can now do it because you know your continuation be will be smaller. People just don’t really have the odds to continue on these hands. It’s more beneficial for them to fold than to call down with ace-high.
That being said, it’s also valuable that in a three-bet pot, you’re also willing to continuation bet two-thirds the pot as well when you miss. If players keep seeing you betting a third of the pot, they’ll adjust and start peeling against you, or raising. They’ll develop plans to counter, so you have to balance. Also, if I ever hit a flop in a three-bet pot, I’ll consider third-pot betting like I would if I missed. All these things are important.
What types of opponents should you use this play on?
Against good players, they’ll adjust and try to narrow your range and make plays at you they think they can get away with, but when you’re against someone who just doesn’t have a plan, it works well against them. This also works well live because the physical chips alone can be an intimidation factor. There are no numbers telling you the pot size, so you are being told how small the bet actually is compared to the pot.
How it Applies
Can you tell us a couple of examples of when you used this play?
Sure. In the $100 rebuy on Full Tilt, with the blinds at 1,000-2,000, it folded to a good solid regular. He opened in the cutoff to 4,700. I three-bet on the button 10,200 with king-jack. He called. The flop came ace-ten-rag. This was a good hand to try the small c-bet because if he had a lot of his suited connector or small pair type-hands, he’d probably fold. If he had a big ace like ace-king or ace-queen, he probably would have four-bet preflop.
It works so well against people because if they just call there, they define weakness in their hand. It’s so hard for them to raise on a bluff because they are committing so much of their stack. If he wants to raise me there, even if he’s clicking it back (raising minimum) he still commits a lot of chips, but there is also still room for me to continue bluffs on later streets.
People play so crazy now that people are trying to avoid awkward spots like that. You save a lot of money for hands that they continue with, and you’re making hands a lot more disguised, and also creating more play post-flop. One hand I won on the turn in a WCOOP event, I three-bet from the small blind with ace-queen. The flop came all low cards, maybe eight or nine high. I bet small and he called quickly. I felt his quick call was a defensive one because it was so small. Because he didn’t even think about raising, when the turn came a blank, I was able to barrel the turn. I bet small again, maybe 40 percent pot. He instantly folded.
It’s funny because I think the person who I’ve see do this more than anyone else is Phil Hellmuth. I hate to give him props, but I like the play.