Continuation Bet Strategy
If you are starting out and just learning the ropes, there is a good chance that the continuation bet is going to be the first 'clever' move that you will start to use.
The sooner you get used to using it the better, as it is going to be a play that you are going to be employing quite frequently throughout your career as a winning poker player.
So here is a quick guide to continuation bet strategy for your viewing pleasure.
What is the continuation bet?
A continuation bet is when you make a raise before the flop and continue to show strength on the flop by betting out, regardless of what cards come down.
So if we are playing $1/$2 get one caller after we make a $6 raise before the flop, we can make a continuation bet by betting $12 in to the pot, irrespective of the fact that our hand may not have improved.
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Why is the continuation bet effective?
The continuation bet is a useful play because it puts your opponent to a tough decision. Even if you do not have a strong hand, your preflop and flop aggression has made it appear as though you are sitting with a very good hand, and so your opponent will have a tough time making the call unless they have a strong hand themselves.
Therefore by making a continuation bet, there is a good chance that you will be able to pick up the pot from players with weak and mediocre hands, which will happen a lot more often than you think.
Players simply do not want to get into a confrontation unless they have a good hand. A good continuation bet forces such players out of the hand and allows you to pick up a few extra pots.
How to make a successful continuation bet.
1] Bet 70% - 100% of the pot.
Making a decent bet is key to the success of a continuation bet. If you do not bet enough, you are leaving the door open for players with draws and mediocre hands to stay along for the ride.
So make sure you bet near to the size of the pot to let the other players know that you mean business. It might be a little scary throwing money into the middle when you do not have the best of it, but you are going to lose money if you are too sheepish with your continuation bets.
2] Have a hand that has some potential.
If you are making raises before the flop with weak hands you are simply asking for trouble, and you aren't going to make things better by making a continuation bet with them. If you stick with strong hands and have overcards at least when you make a continuation bet, you will have the opportunity to get back into the hand if your bet does end up getting called. You want to be aggressive, but there is no need to be silly.
3] Don't forget to bet when you have a strong hand.
Many players will fall into the trap of forgetting to bet when they do make a strong hand, as they will resign their bets on the flop to the times that they do not hit and find themselves in a weaker spots. This is a bad play, as your opponents may well cotton-on to this fact, and you will lose the weapon of having your opponents being not fully aware of whether you are strong or weak when you are making your continuation bets. The less your opponents know the better.
Continuation betting is not just for bluffing or semi-bluffing you know.
If you continuation bet when you hit a strong hand, you have the opportunity to extract a lot of money from the player that doesn't believe in the strength of your hand due to your other flop bets in the past. So don't miss out on these opportunities by only making a continuation bet when you do not hit.
How often should you continuation bet?
Many successful players will almost always make a continuation bet on the flop, no matter what cards come down. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is the best strategy, and so you should try to find your own particular comfort zone. I personally continuation bet around 65% of the time, but this can move up or down depending on the type of players I am playing against.
However, one of the great features of the continuation bet is that it cannot easily be overused and lose you money, which is really handy if you like to go balls to the walls when you want to try out a new move at the tables.
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Continuation bet strategy overview.
The basics of continuation bet strategy isn't complicated at all, as all it requires is a strong bet on the flop after making a raise before the flop... even an idiot can do it.
It may take some tweaking and perfecting before you can consistently pick the right spots, but in general the learning process is going to be pretty safe and it is unlikely to cost you any money. If anything, the chances are that you will start winning more money right off the bat, so get out there and start taking advantage of the continuation bet!
As a tip, I would avoid using this play too much at the lowest limits (anything below 5c/10c) as the players there do not seem to care about whether they call, raise, bet, fold or min-raise. So it will be best to use this play at levels where your opponents actually care about the money in front of them and how they play.
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