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Whether to Continuation Bet or Not

Whether to Continuation Bet or Not

The continuation bet (or c-bet for short) is one of the most powerful weapons in any poker player’s arsenal. Combating this play is a difficult task for even skilled players.

Basically this is how c-betting works. Let’s say you open raise from the BTN with AQ, and get a call from the player in the big blind. The flop is dealt, the big blind checks around to you as they usually do to the preflop raiser, and you bet again on the flop. That’s what is called a continuation bet, as you followed through with the aggression after raising pre-flop.

Whether or not you make your hand on the flop, you should often make a continuation bet. If your opponent has been dealt two unpaired cards, they’ll only hit the flop about 1/3 of the time, and the majority of the time, they’ll have to fold because they’ve completely missed the flop.

The actual reason why the continuation betting strategy is so successful is in the math. If you make a continuation bet which is half the size of the pot, you’ll only need your c-bet to work 1/3 of the time in order to break even! And a continuation bet will be successful much more often than that. It’s an especially effective strategy against tight opponents. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be c-betting 100% of the time, but it is a move that every poker player will want to make more often than not.

Continuation betting works so well because many boards will hit the preflop raiser’s hand more often than they hit our opponent’s likely holdings. Obviously boards that contain an Ace or King connect with our range, as we’ll be raising with hands like AA, KK, AK, AQ, KQ, etc. If the flop consists of all low cards, like a 632 board, your opponent(s) still likely hasn’t hit much of a hand, and because you could have been raising with pocket pairs, you want to continuation bet and look to take it down more often than not. It’s important to tell a believable story with your line, but it’s also really difficult for opponents to play back when they have nothing.

With that being said, there are situations when you won’t want to pull the trigger with a continuation bet. Generally, you shouldn’t continuation bet if the flop contains middley cards, such as flops like 984 or JT7. These kinds of flops are much more likely to have hit our opponents, as they would be calling with hands like AJ, AT, KJ, QJ, J9, and many other medium strength hands that hit these types of flops.

Keep in mind, when you’re playing against competent players, you’ll have to mix your play a bit in order to avoid playing in a predictable way. But against opponents that aren’t observant and who haven’t caught on to what type of flop board textures you’re c-betting, avoiding continuation bets on these flops will definitely save you some money over the long run. You should also look to slow down in multi-way pots. Players at the micro stakes don’t like to fold and when you’re involved in a family pot there is a good chance the flop has improved an opponent’s hand.

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