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continuation bet

What is a Continuation Bet? | How to Play Poker

What is a Continuation Bet in poker? A Continuation Bet is a wager made on the flop by the pre-flop player who raised. It is named this way because the player who decided to take the advantage pre-flop has continued the aggression on the flop. This basically means you raised pre-flop and you’re now betting on the flop as well. That’s why it’s called a continuation bet, otherwise known as a c-bet.

The Importance of Continuation Bets

When I first started playing in Texas Hold’em poker tournaments I noticed that I would have a good hand and raise prior to the flop and I would often have a hard time playing on the flop. I have discovered when I raised prior to the flop, I felt the other players believed I liked my hand and was happy to play for additional money. Here comes the flop, as the cards turn I hit air, what do I do now? Why should I bet if I didn’t improve my hand, I got nothing? Why is a Continuation Bet Important?

The main reason why a continuation bet is important is once the flop hits, my continuation bet tells the player I still like my hand. This places me in the powerful position of the aggressor. In most cases, my opponent will fold and forfeit the pot. My experience has taught me to believe in the wisdom of a continuation bet. Most of the time the other player’s poker hand does not improve on the flop. When I am the first player to place a bet, I know I can often win the pot. 

Over the years, I discovered there are many reasons one should use the continuation bet poker strategy. I have learned to never underestimate the value of a continuation bet. Even if I made a bet prior to the flop and showed a lot of strength, I will continue to take the initiative by placing a continuation bet. This has happened many times when I was the only one left playing against the last opponent.

This strategy has been my default action 100 percent of the time during poker games. I have seen too many players use this specific poker strategy every time they are the leader in the pre-flop. I know they are using continuation bets too often. When this happens I can use this information for my benefit.

Always remember predicting poker is analogous and I do not want to be in the cross hairs of any of my opponents. I am writing this journal so I will never forget when, why and against which players I need to take this particular action. I also need to remember the counter strategies when my opponent places a continuation bet. 

The Purpose of a Continuation Bet

As I reminded myself above, the basis of the strategy of the player is my hand does not get any better on the flop. This means regardless of my holding, I must continue to attack aggressively. My goal is to win the pot. When I am holding a strong Texas Hold’em Poker hand, I can build the pot by using the strategy of a reverse bluff. I must always remember by main goal is to immediately win the pot. I understand poker rules and I always play to win. 

The Number of Opponents

I know my odds of winning the pot by placing a continuation bet are much better when I am facing less opponents. I am making a notation of my general guide and important considerations: 

A continuation bet is nearly 100 percent when heads up
When I have two opponents, a continuation bet is fifty percent
When I have three opponents, a continuation bet is 25 percent

I have learned when I use a continuation bet against more than one player, my game will have a degree of unpredictability. In this case, I must use this strategy less frequently. When I have four or more opponents, I will not send any more of my chips into the pot until I have hit the flop. I need to remember a check may be important. 

continuation bet - texture of the board

The Texture of the Board

I think of Mike Caro as Poker’s mad Genius. He said Texas Hold’em Poker is about using high cards as opposed to the live cards used for stud poker. I always remember this because if the flop comes with a King, Queen or Jack, the chances are good one of my opponents has a match to one of these cards.

They would not have called my raise prior to the flop with an off suit of 7-2. This is a critical aspect to the texture of the flop whether or not the continuation bet has a high expectation. Not only do I need to be careful with high cards, I must watch out for coordinated boards favoring both flush and straight draws. My best option is a ragged rainbow flop. 

I am going to note a few important examples. If I raise the pot with a Kd and Qd, I may be called because of the button and the blinds. The flop is going to come Ac, Jd and 8s. I do not want to place a continuation bet in this instance. I must remember the value of my hand is just a possible inside straight and I have three opponents.

continuation bet

Once I miss my high cards and the potential for a flush, one of my opponents may have easily made the connection with the flop. All I can do is check and hope for a free look during the turn. I will have to fold if I bet and one of my opponents gets check-raised during a blind or raised by the button. My best option is to determine if I can hit my draw by waiting for the turn. 

The situation is completely different if I have the same hand but just one opponent with a dealt flop of 10d, 5d and 2c. If my opponent checks, my best option is a semi-bluff continuation bet. I may be able to take the pot immediately. If I am called, there are still the 2nd nut flush draw and two overs. This would also be a good time to place a continuation bet if I am facing multiple opponents because this example is different. 

continuation bet

If I have a strong poker hand and I flop, like a set, I can place a continuation bet. I have to remember the importance of using the same strategy for different hands in poker tournaments. I have to place continuation bets for both whiffs on the flop in addition to strong hands or I will make my opponents suspicious. The advantages to using continuation bets frequently is the manipulation of my opponents and to disguise and cover my poker hand.

Bet Sizing

When I am playing in a no-limit Texas Hold’em Poker tournament, I have to decide how much I am going to wager for my continuation bet. I have to consider my table image, the stack sizes and the playing tendencies of my opponents. I have to remember no strategy is always going to be successful. If I place too small of a bet, I will be asking for a call and too big of a bet is just foolish. 

The most important aspect is to bet consistently. My continuation bets must be the same size as all my bets post-flop. I have learned the best bet is a minimum of half the size of the pot. If I bet any less, the odds are my opponent will bet more. This will become way too costly if one of my opponents has a good poker hand. I must remember I can adjust this rule according to my experience and the general nature, feel and flow of the game. 

The Opponents

One of my most important strategies is believing I know how my opponents will react to the play of my game successfully. When my opponent has nothing, I must have a good idea how loose or tight they may intend to play.

When I make a play, I have to remember my opponent may do the same. I must know which opponents have enough savvy to float me. I have seen many opponents execute this play if they suspect I am continuation betting. They often call because they believe I will check on the turn. If my continuation bet is called by my opponent and I check, I must remember their intent is to take advantage of my apparent weakness so they can steal the pot. 

I must rely on all of the factors I have outlined before deciding if it is wise to place a continuation bet. If the situation were always perfect, I would have one tight or weak opponent always betting half of the pot with a raggedy board. My opponents drawing odds would not be good at 3-to-1 for a half pot bet. This is a positive when I know my opponent lacks knowledge about drawing odds. Poor odds are offered for a possible draw. 

Countering a Continuation Bet

I have to take a much closer look regarding the same situation. Instead of becoming aggressive against the lone opponent, I have to consider they may be a continuation better. I must repeat yet again I have to closely observe my opponents to improve my decisions. I have to figure out if my opponent is aggressive, tight, timid or loose and their comfort range. A lot of players are happy when they see a flop. They feel the need to place a continuation bet to put a stop to the action. My game will improve when I know the tendencies of my opponents. 

Reverse Engineering

I have seen the term reverse engineering used in numerous fields as the description of a process used to dissect the marketing plan or product of a competitor. The strategy is to figure out the way the product is made so the competitor can either improve or replicate the product. I believe this applies to continuation betting. When I understand the way my opponent thinks when they are continuation betting, I can play it right back when appropriate. I am noting a checklist to determine if my opponent is using a continuation bet to try to manipulate my game. 

  • Does my opponent regularly and predictably place continuation bets?
  • Is my hand a good basis for a call on my opponents bet?
  • Is my opponent trying to steal the pot based on their tendencies?
  • When my opponent is stealing, should I fold, call or raise?

Determining the Meaning of My Opponent’s Bets

I have to remember a continuation bet is not the only kind of bet in Texas Hold’em Poker. There are also semi-bluffs, probe bets and value bets to name a few. I never want to be in a situation where I am attempting to handle a continuation bet only to discover I have been dealing with an opponent using value betting the entire time. I have learned the power behind knowledge. Understanding how my opponents are playing the game by observing and learning their betting patterns. This is the knowledge that will enable higher quality decisions and make me a winner. 

Final Thoughts

The most solid poker strategy when the criteria above is in place is continuation betting. This does not mean it is the only weapon in my arsenal. If I am the aggressor for every pre-flop I will become predictable and exploitable. My best course of action is to observe my opponents to figure out which ones have not learned to mix up their game. See you at the WSOP!

♠ pokerjournal.org

Continuation Bet – FAQs

Q: What is a continuation bet?

A: This means you raised pre-flop and you’re now betting on the flop as well. That’s why it’s called a continuation bet, otherwise known as a c-bet.

Q: What does c-bet mean in poker?

A: A c-bet is just an abbreviation for continuation bet.

Q: How often should you use a continuation bet?

A: It depends on how many players called pre-flop. If you have 1-2 opponents, almost always bet. If you have more than two opponents, c-bet only if you hit the flop.

Q: What is a good c-bet percentage?

A: There is none. It’s completely situational and the percentage will vary greatly depending on the type of game you are playing in.

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