When And When Not To Continuation Bet

Learn when you should and should not make a continuation bet

The continuation bet is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. Track all the hands you play and see how much money you make from a simple continuation bet. I am willing to wager they make you a lot of money if you’re making them with the correct frequency.

What Is A Continuation Bet?

You will have made continuation bets even if you did not know that is their name. Some people call these c-bets because their full title is a bit of a mouthful. The concept is the same, regardless of what you call them.

Imagine you raise from the button, the big blind calls, and the dealer spreads the flop. The big blind checks to you and you bet. This is a continuation bet because you are continuing with your aggression.

It is possible to make what is known as a delayed continuation bet, too. This is where you raise preflop and wait to make a c-bet on the turn instead of the flop. Flop c-bets are what we are talking about today, however.

When To Fire a Continuation Bet

Always have a legitimate reason for betting in poker, especially continuation bets. What do you want to achieve from your bet? What will you do if this bet is called or raised? Plan for all possible outcomes so you are not left thinking on your feet while under pressure. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, as the saying goes.

Some continuation bets are for value. You raise with a strong hand, it remains strong on the flop, so why not bet for value? It may be the case you improve on the flop, your ace-king connects for example, so you bet for value. It is always easy to bet for value.

The problem lies in that your hand will miss most flop the majority of the time. Your continuation bet can still be for value, but it is now more likely to be for protection or as a bluff.

Let us run through another example. We raise from the button with king-queen, the big blind calls and checks to us on an Ac-Ts-3d flop. Our hand missed the flop, although we do have a gutshot straight draw now, yet this is a great flop to c-bet on.

Think about why this is the case. First, we raised preflop and indicated strength. Second, the big blind only called so does not have a very strong hand unless they are getting tricky and attempting to trap us. A c-bet will win the pot here almost always if our opponent holds 44-99 despite us holding king-high.

When Not To C-Bet

A wet, coordinated flop is one that you may want to hold back on firing a continuation bet on. Raising with a pair of sevens, getting called, then checked to on a Jd-Td-9s flop should not fill you with joy. These types of flops hit our opponents’ calling ranges. There are no turn cards that help our hand if we bet and get called.

Our opponent can check-raise as a bluff on this flop and we have to give up. Save yourself some chips and do not pull the trigger in these spots.

Facing multiple opponents is another reason not to make a continuation bet. The more opponents we have to deal with, the greater the chance we are behind or will be outdrawn. For example, we raise in late position with Kd-Qd and the button plus both blinds call. The flop falls As-Ts-4d and they all check to us. A c-bet would be in order against a single opponent, but not here with only a gutshot. Betting not only bloats the pot but our opponents can put us in a difficult spot by check-raising.

It is a good idea to sometimes not c-bet if you have the board locked up or have made top set on an otherwise unremarkable flop. For example, raising with pocket kings and the flop comes Kd-Kc-3s. You are guaranteed to win the hand here so why not give your opponent enough rope to hang themselves? Likewise, raising with Qs-Qc and flopping Qd-6c-2s could be a good time not to c-bet, although doing so for value is another play.

Balance Is The Key

Finding a balance when you do and do not continuation bet is key, like most aspects of poker. C-bet too much and opponents will play back at you. Bet too infrequently and you leave money at the table.

A c-bet percentage of between 58-70% is ideal in short-handed cash games in the online poker world.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.

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