Continuation Betting

Marc ‘Mr Cool’ Goodwin on some of the game’s trickiest concepts: How and why should you continuation bet?

What is a continuation bet?

A continuation bet is a bet you make when you
have missed the flop but entered the pot as the
pre-flop raiser. It’s made to get your opponent out
of the hand, as opposed to value betting.
Essentially it’s a bluff that is based on the fact that
you have shown strength pre-flop and were called.

What you have to be very careful about is to make
sure that you mix it up a bit. You can’t continuation
bet every time. It’s very important to understand
the texture of the flop. When the flop is dangerous
you shouldn’t make a continuation bet.

When you enter a pot as
the raiser, should you
always continuation bet?

What considerations are
there to bear in mind?

The main factor to consider when
deciding whether or not to make a
continuation bet, is deciding what
kind of player you’re up against.
Are they a tricky player that likes to
re-raise? Or have they folded to lots
of other players’ continuation bets?
It’s important to remember that your
opponent will miss the flop 70 percent
of the time and that’s what makes
continuation betting a successful
move. At the same time you have to
vary when you make them otherwise
everyone will realise what you’re up

It’s not very likely that you’ll hit
every flop hard either! By making
continuation bets, more often than
not opponents will try to trap you
when they do hit the flop and check
to you. They’ve now missed a major
opportunity to make good money on
this hand because if you sense a little
bit of danger you can take a free card.
And if you don’t hit the turn it’s quite
easy to get away from your hand if
they then decide to come out betting.

What is your continuation bet representing
and how much should you make it?

If an Ace comes down on the flop,
your continuation bet is representing
that you have an Ace in your hand.
If the flop comes down 10-6-5 your
continuation bet is saying that you
have an overpair and are charging
your opponent(s) to hit their Ace
or draw. So what you need to do is
evaluate how much it costs to knock
others off their hands, and then
make that maximum bet.

In the
same way that different players have
different thresholds of protecting
their big blind you’ll find varying
levels of resilience to continuation
betting. If you find that optimal
level you’ll lose the minimum. You
need to get it spot on so that the
times someone does come over the
top you lose the minimum amount.

Does continuation
betting change
after lots of
pre-flop action?

If you’ve had a pre-flop
re-raise called you’re in an
entirely different situation
from when you have a
standard raise called,
and therefore standard
continuation betting does
not apply. Your re-raise
was asking your opponent
if they had a good hand
and their call responded
with a ‘Yes, I have got a
good hand but I’m not sure
if it’s better than yours,’ or
they’re slow-playing an
absolute monster. Now a
flop comes up which
you’ve missed. If they
check you should check
with them. You don’t
need to be making this
pot too big if you still
haven’t connected.

Can you continuation bet on the turn?

A continuation bet on the turn can be more successful
than one on the flop because continuation betting has
become so common that a lot of players will ‘float’ you
on the flop. If an opponent checks to you in
position on a flop you don’t like, you can check to see
how they’ll act on the turn. If they check for a second
time, you can then make a continuation bet. It’s a lot
harder for them to call or check-raise on a draw or bluff
with just the river to come.

For example, say I raise on
the button with A-Jo and you call on the blind with
8-6. The flop brings 2-5-Q. I’ve missed but you
have a flush draw. You check. I elect to hold off my
continuation bet and check too. The turn is the 10.
Now your draw looks weak and if I bet it’s not easy for
you to call with just one card to come. If I’d made a bet
on the flop it’s conceivable that you’d check-raise your
flush draw and I’d have to put down the better hand.

What are the
giveaway signs
for spotting a
continuation bet?

Players will often put in a
more calculated bet when
continuation betting. It’s
normally as close to threequarters
of the pot as they
can get, but if they actually
hit a hand they’ll either
check to you or bet the full
pot. Watch your opponent’s
play, follow how hands
develop, and remember
how much each player bet
on each street so at the end
of the hand you can think
about what was a genuine
bet and what wasn’t. There
are physical tells, too, but
anyone worth their salt
will mix things up.
If you raise with A-K from early position
and the J-10-5 flop gives you overcards
and a gutshot, should you check or make
a continuation bet?

In a tournament it depends on
the proportion of chips you’ve
got invested in the pot. You
have to continue representing
that a raise from early position
means you have a very strong
hand, but J-10 on the flop is
dangerous. Betting out of
position is difficult, but as
you’ve made the bet from early
position you should make a
continuation bet, but not more
than three-quarters of the pot.

If that bet means you’ve
committed more than 40-50
percent of your stack and they
come back over the top, you
haven’t got a choice – you
have to play. In a deep-stacked
cash game, however, you’re
probably better off checking.

Check-raising would also be a
strong play in this situation.
Let the other player think that
his A-J is good (which it would
be at that point) and come
back over the top when they
bet. The combination of your
early position bet and post-flop
check-raise makes it difficult
for your opponent to play on.

If they call your raise you still
have outs and if they come
over the top you can still get
away from the hand. The more
deep-stacked the action the
more aggressively you should
play that check-raise.

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