You should consider backdoor equity when making a continuation bet bluff.
A few years ago over at my training site, CrushLivePoker.com, I discussed a system that taught players when to continuation bet as a bluff, after being the preflop raiser. I called this system the “Cbet bluffing Matrix” and it involved a number of different factors that one should consider when making a cbet as a bluff. I want to further examine one of these factors, backdoor equity, as it is most likely the most important factor in today’s games.
Cbetting with backdoor equity means that you should choose to continuation bet boards where you can turn additional equity leading to a profitable double barrel. For example if we have K♠ Q♠ on a board of on a 9♠ 8♥ 2♣ board we would make a bet with two overcards and a backdoor flush draw. If there was no spade on the flop, we would choose that particular board to check back. Another example would be J♥ T♥ on a K♥ 5♦ 2♠ board. Again with one of our flush cards on board and a backdoor straight draw, we would choose to bet—but with no heart on the flop we would choose to check.
Examining the textures and breakdowns of these particular boards keeps us from bluffing too much. If we just blindly cbet boards that we think are good for our range as the preflop raiser, without any type of frequency selection, then we would definitely be over bluffing. A lot of players understand this concept but also do not choose the right types of cards to double barrel. If we have that K♠ Q♠ on 9♠ 8♥ 2♣ type of board we certainly are not blindly betting again on the turn if we are called on the flop. The types of cards that we are looking for on fourth street are spades that give us a backdoor flush draw, and usually an ace. If we had Q♠ J♠ instead of K♠ Q♠ we would also barrel a K as that would be an over card to top pair and also give us a gutshot straight draw. In most situations when we do bet the flop with backdoor equity we are looking for cards that give us extra equity OR that are scare cards to top pair preferably that do not connect with the board. On 982 a T and a J are overcards to top pair but you have to be cautious about double barreling them as they give a lot of hands that called us on the flop straight draws or two pair.
Let us say we bet on 9♥ 8♠ 2♦ with K♥ Q♥ from the HJ as a continuation bet after both the blinds called our raise preflop. The player in the big blind then calls our flop bet. What is a reasonable range that he may have? Hands like 9T, 8T 67, JT and 78 are all reasonable, along with any pocket pair. You can see that if a ten comes on the turn it improves the overall range of the big blind and we should expect to get called again with a fairly high frequency. So even though we pick up a gutshot and it is an overcard to top pair, a T is not really the best turn card to barrel again, unless we are planning on triple barreling some run outs. I would most likely only choose the T♥ to bet again (1 out of 4 possible tens) and check the others. This keeps us balanced and prevents over bluffing. The same could be said for a J, 6, 7 or a 5. All of those cards connect with the big blinds check calling range. However we would continue to bet if we hit a queen or a king for value, and ace as a bluff. Sometimes we can barrel a disconnected low card like a 3 or 4 too. The interesting thing about the 3 and 4 falling is that it is unlikely that our opponents will fold the turn so we have to accurately gauge how often a triple barrel would work with different run outs.
This is why suited hands in general are better to raise then unsuited hands. Not only do they give you an equity advantage but also a playability advantage. KQ suited is exceptionally better than KQ offsuit in the above example because we can pick up that extra equity and continue to double barrel bluff with the right frequencies. The next time you are considering betting the flop as a bluff really take a look at what cards can improve your hand on the turn. If there are not many (like no backdoor draws) you can put that particular hand and board combination in your checking range.. You can always bluff at the pot later if scare cards come or your opponent seems to be disinterested in the pot.