Continuation BetThis is a beginners guide to the continuation bet. There is a lot of misconception about what a continuation bet is, when to use it, when not to, how much to bet and why.
What is a continuation bet?A continuation bet is exactly as the name implies, a bet made to continue the aggression a players made from the start of a hand. So for example lets say you raise or re-raise pre flop, a continuation bet would be betting on the flop, regardless of whether you connected to the flop or not.
When to use a continuation betMany new poker players that learn the concept of continuation betting normally go right ahead, start applying it, see a few immediate results picking up pots then naively over use it and end up losing money. The continuation bet works best in heads up pots on a dry flop (when you're betting after missing the flop). A dry flop is essentially a flop that has no draws (flush or straight) and maybe one high card, for example: King-hearts 2-spades and the 9-clubs. The reason that the continuation bet works is because you and your opponent will miss the flop nearly 70% of the time and if you have the lead in the hand (taking control of the betting pre flop and therefore representing a strong hand) you will get your opponent to fold most of the time when they have nothing (which is more often than not). When you find yourself in this situation (ie heads up, dry board) you'll be able to bet less in relation to the pot size (half/ two thirds pot) with your continuation bets as it'll be tougher for your opponent to have a hand to continue with, thus making your c-bet bluffing more profitable.
When to not use a continuation betOk so for this scenario we are going to assume that you were the raiser pre flop and you have missed the flop with a hand like AK (ace, king) for example. Firstly if we have been called by lots of other players who happen to be quite loose (likely to call our continuation bet) and we are early to act in the hand post flop then it will probably be better to check the hand and hope it gets checked round and if it doesn't, simply fold to a bet. The second situation may be if you have more than one pre flop caller again and the flop is very co-ordinated (flush and straight draws on the board). Or a flop that is likely to hit the caller's range of hands. For example a flop of Queen - hearts, J - hearts and 9 - clubs is a flop that hits a calling range rather well and will often give one of your opponents a pair, pair plus a draw or a strong draw. In these cases you may also think twice about making a continuation bet as it will again get folds less often than you want to show a profit. However if you flop a strong hand and the flop is co-ordinated then you actually want to c-bet and c-bet strong (big bets) in order to charge people for drawing against you, denying them the correct odds to call. All of this is broad hypothetical advice as a lot of your decision making will also depend heavily on how your opponents have been playing.
Continuation Bet OverviewThe situations covered here are mainly when you're continuation betting as a bluff, (when you miss the flop) but you'll also be continuation betting a lot when you hit the flop. My advice is to always keep your bet sizing in relation to the pot size as this keeps your bluffs and value bets approximately the same size thus making yourself much harder to read as a player. Now when I say make them the same size, I mean based on the flop texture (smaller on dry flops, bigger on co-ordinated flops). Go and experiment with the continuation bet, we will look at more advanced applications of the continuation bet in future poker lessons.
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