Continuation Bets

What is a Continuation Bet? When Should You Make a Continuation Bet?

Why should you make a continuation bet?

It is a situation that occurs more often than not in a game of no limit texas holdem. Say you are in mid to late position with a medium pocket pair or some big face cards that are good enough to bet with but are vulnerable to stronger hands such as higher pocket pairs or overcards. When the action comes to you, you put in a decent raise and you get two or three callers. You miss the flop by a mile and you are first to act. What sould you do?

Lets look at a specific example:

You are playing on a $1/$2 cash table and have sat down with $200. You are sitting three seats away from the BB. You get dealt pocket 10′s. UTG and UTG+1 both fold in front of you so you decide to put in a good-sized raise of $8 total. There are two callers, the CO with $150 remaining and the button with $50 remaining. SB and BB fold.

The flop comes down Ac 9c 4s.

Your Hand Flop Turn River
ten of diamonds ten of hearts ace of clubs nine of clubs four of spades face down card face down card

You know that your opponents playng this hand with you are not especially strong players, you also know they are not donkeys or novices. They are relatively tight, sometimes aggressive with very strong hands, but not a massive threat.

Action is with you. Do you bet? If you do bet, then how much?

Consider the following…

  • You could have the best hand so far with your pocket 10′s.
  • If you were up against pocket AA, KK or QQ you most likely would have seen a pre-flop re-raise from somewhere on the table.
  • You could be up against a late position player holding AK, AQ, AJ or even a loose AXs. A lot of amatuer players will call a large raise with those kinds of hands.

It is most likely that your opponents do not have one of these hands that are beating you. You are most likely to be holding the best hand right now, but you do not want anyone to improve on the turn or river for free. In this situation you should be looking to win the hand now by betting it strong and enticing your opponents to fold their hands. On the flip side, you dont want to risk losing a lot of money if one of your opponents has a higher pair than yours or an Ace.

This situation is perfect for a continuation bet.

Poker Strategy Tip

Hot Tip: A continuation bet is very similar to a probe bet, but with a continuation bet you are the last person to raise pre-flop and the first person to bet post-flop. It is a sign of aggression and stregth.

A continuation bet is a post-flop bet that continues your pre-flop aggression with a bet around half the size of the pot. It is an attempt to reduce the playing field by forcing players to fold who would otherwise check and see the turn. It is a bet that costs little enough for you to get away from the hand should it turn ugly, yet the bet is big enough to put off players who have hit nothing or bottom pair.

You should be looking to give yourself better pot odds by making the bet small and the potential winnings large as a percentage of your bet.

In the above example, the pot is $27. If you bet around $13 (roughly half the pot), you only need to win 1/3rd of the time to turn a profit.

This bet should be made when you arent sure if you are in front or not and so you bet out to gain information. The reason you do not check in this situation is because you do not want to give a free card. Anyone sitting there with a couple of clubs or a raggy Ace would love to see a free card – don’t give them one. If someone raises your continuation bet, then assess the situation and fold if you think you are beat. Rarely should oyu carry on playing in this situation if your continuation bet gets raised.

Compare this move to a pot-sized bet on the turn. If the table checks and a free turn card is given, you now have a harder time trying to win the pot. Your bet would have to be a larger 100% pot size bet meaning that you need to win this bet 50% of the time to break even by getting your opponents to fold or winning the showdown.

Continuation bets are looking to win the pot, win it early and minimise losses.

It is perfectly possible to make a continuation bet from an early position with a drawing hand. Consider the same situation in the example above, but this time you are holding Tc Jc.

Your Hand Flop Turn River
ten of clubs jack of clubs ace of clubs nine of clubs four of spades face down card face down card

You can bet half the pot to “ask” if anyone has an Ace, but you also now have the extra outs to hit a genuinely strong hand if your bet gets called.

Continuation bets do not come without their fair share of risks. It is possible that you run into an absolute monster of a hand. It is possible that you find yourself pot comitted as you are betting too strong. You might find that novice players will happily call a 50% pot size bet whereas they might have folded to a 100% pot size bet.

Here is an example of when NOT to make a continuation bet.

Same game, same position. You are dealt Jh Jc and after the pre-flop betting, the board shows Ad Ks Qs. Do not bet. Just check it down and hope no one bets. If they bet youll simply have to fold unless you are getting phenominal pot odds to hit your quads!

Your Hand Flop Turn River
jack of hearts jack of diamonds ace of diamonds king of spades queen of spades face down card face down card

If your hole cards give you an overpair to the flop or you think the flop was really crap for everyone else, then you should make a pot-sized bet. The reason is beacause you have the best hand now. By the turn or river, it may not be the best hand. The optimum strategy is to win pots while you have the best hand and make it expensive for others to draw out on you.

Poker Strategy Tip

Hot Tip: A continuation bet can be used in many ways, however you need to make sure that you are not making this move just for the sake of it.

There are times post-flop where instead of making a continuation bet, you should make a pot-sized bet instead. Other times, instead of making a continuation bet, checking the flop is the best move. If the flop is likely to have helped your opponents then do not make any bet at all. continuation bets should be played at the right time in the right position. It is up to you to decide when and where that position is in your game and make sure that your continuation bet move does not become predictable as otherwise it could prove expensive as your opponents know you are betting without a hand.

Used wisely, continuation bets help mix up your game and make you a profitable poker player.

2 comments

  1. Very interesting, some guys will call no mater what, so how much should you bet to scare off the low % hands, but not too much so that you end up paying big bucks to the guy holding the 3-6 of suit who hits a full house on the river… this sounds like a good strategy. Nice work.

    Comment by Lats Niebling on March 12, 2012 at 11:50 pm
  2. In the second example, would there not be a case for firing a C Bet? Although there are three overcards on the board that dominate your jacks, you also have a gutshot and a chance to hit trips. Further this flop could scare them just as much as it does you – so a bet could take it down.

    Comment by bleeps on October 12, 2012 at 4:28 am

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