Chapter 12: The Continuation Bet

Being a tight and aggressive player, one of the most common bets you will make is the continuation bet.  In every session you play, you will be making hundreds of continuation bets.

A continuation bet is a bet made on the flop after a player raises preflop.  For example, you raise a hand in late position.  Your opponent calls out of the blinds.  He checks to you on the flop and you bet.  That’s a continuation bet.

You should almost always continuation bet into one opponent.  When only one opponent calls you preflop, fire away on every flop.  Even if you have nothing.  Especially if you have nothing; you can’t win the pot any other way.  You will win the pot enough to make this bet profitable alone.  It also helps to always continuation bet for the times when you do have a good hand.  Your opponent can never know what you have just based on your flop bet alone.

I like to make my continuation bets large at almost full pot.  I usually make it 80 to 90% of the pot.  I find the larger bet lets you take the pot down easier, which is important since you usually won’t flop anything[1].  It’s important to bet this much even with a good hand so you keep your opponent guessing as to if you have a hand or not.

The only spots I wouldn’t continuation bet into one opponent are when you have a hand that you should play pot control with (as explained in Chapter 26) or when you are up against a player that is so loose that he is never folding and your hand has no hope to win.

You should usually continuation bet into two opponents.  When two opponents call me preflop, I still bet into them a majority of the time.  While it’s less likely you’ll take the pot down, there’s more money out there to be won.  Also, a bet into two players is interpreted as stronger than a bet into one player so your opponents will fold stronger hands.

When my hand completely misses the flop and the flop is coordinated (more on this in Chapter 29 on board texture), I give up.  When both players are loose and my hand has no hope, I give up.

You need a hand to continuation bet into three or more opponents.  There’s just too good of a chance someone hit the flop big to bet into three or more opponents with nothing.  I’d usually need at least top pair or a good draw[2] to bet into three opponents.

You need to be continuation betting more than you think you should.  There’s some complicated math to it, but you win the pot enough on the flop and sometimes win the pot later in the hand by making a hand to make it worth it to continuation bet a lot.

Continuation bets at medium to high stakes.  You should still be continuation betting most of the time at the higher limits, but be forewarned: other players at the table will know what you’re up to and that you often don’t have a hand.  Expect to get called and raised a lot more by solid players at these limits when you continuation bet.  It will be a tough adjustment to know when to continue and when to fold when you actually have a hand, but that will take experience.

What to do on the turn when your continuation bet is called?  That’s beyond the scope of this chapter.  To know what to do here, you need to know your opponents, the table dynamics, their hand range and understand if it’s a good spot to keep betting.  In the later chapters you will begin to get an understanding of what to do beyond the continuation bet.



[1] Mathematically, you’ll flop a bad hand more often than you’ll flop a good hand.  The exact percentages can depend on the strength of your hand preflop and what we define as a good hand postflop, but about 40% of the time you’ll have a hand good enough postflop that it is worth something.

[2] Generally, a good draw means having a draw with eight or more outs to a very good hand.  For example, holding JT on a 983 flop is a good draw with eight outs to a straight.  If you don’t know what “outs” are, refer to the glossary and  Chapter 28 on semibluffs.

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09. August 2012 by Bill Vosti
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