The act of betting is obviously a pivotal part of poker. Yet, so often it surprises people to learn that there are a variety of possible bets contained within the game. What this means is that each type of bet follows a different process or has different motives behind it. One of the most common is the continuation bet.
What is a continuation bet?
The definition of a continuation bet is fairly clear cut. With this type of bet, you have raised before the flop and bet again on the flop. You’ve “continued” betting, hence continuation bet. For what it’s worth, this is also known as “C betting”. This type of betting will frequently be seen in all levels of poker games from low to high stakes. This is because of its multitude of benefits to the player who employs it. This bet can be made when you connect with the flop and be made as a bluff when you don’t connect. It not only allows players to take home more pots but also provides valuable information on opponents. For example, a bet like this results in a slow but regular building up of the pot. If you think you have a strong hand and you’re going to take home the pot, this is something you’re going to aim for. Furthermore, a continuation bet can help guard your hand. What we mean by this is, if you’re aiming to protect your hand from a draw, a continuation bet will regularly challenge other players to outdraw you.
A continuation bet allows you to gauge the reactions of the other players and predict how strong their hand is.
So, while there’s a lot of value to be gained by this type of bet, the trick is to know when to use it (and when not to).
So, what about when you don’t connect with the flop? Don’t fret because, in this instance, the continuation bet still holds value and gives you a last-ditch attempt to scoop the pot. If you’ve raised during the pre-flop and unfortunately, you and your opponent both miss the flop, the continuation bet can be your best friend. After all, if they have nothing and you’re playing as though you have a strong hand, they’re most likely going to fold when you bet. There’s a big difference between bluffing when you’re the one betting and when you’re the one calling.
When to employ a continuation bet
While we won’t say that there are hard rules around playing a continuation bet, there are some guidelines we’d recommend following. These include making a continuation bet when:
- You connect and want to build the pot. If you think you have a strong hand, you’ll want that pot to be as big as possible!
- You’re checked in position. This is the ideal position to bet in as it applies added pressure to your opponents.
- The other players are only playing the cards in their hand and not the cards on the board. If you suspect that your rivals aren’t playing the board, despite there being potential to make a strong hand there, then get smart and start continuation betting.
- The flop draws a poor range of cards that most likely won’t result in anyone drawing a straight or flush. While this means you most likely won’t make these hands, it also makes it very hard for your opponents to do so as well.
- You’re in a heads up game with just one opponent.
When not to employ a continuation bet
While the continuation bet can reap manifold benefits, there are times when it's just not feasible to employ. These include making a continuation bet when:
- You’ve been caught bluffing one too many times. For a bet like this to be successful (especially if your hand is weak), you have to rely on your opponents not calling you.
- You’re out of position. Again, this is just a guideline and not a hard rule. However, from our experience, it’s more difficult to make successful continuation bets out of position as opponents will routinely float or re-raise.
- The board has the potential to allow your opponents to connect. For obvious reasons you don’t want to pour too much into the pot when there’s a good chance, you won’t take it home.
- There’s a full table of players. Like our advice with a heads up game, the same logic applies here. The more players in the game, the more likely that one of them will have a stronger hand than you.
When others are making continuation bets
So we’ve covered when you should and shouldn’t be making continuation bets. Now, what’s the protocol when your poker-savvy opponents are making continuation bets? Now, we’re talking about the players who don’t just bet and bluff blindly hoping for a win. These are the shrewd players who you need to watch out for. As they don’t lay a bet for every hand, you need to react carefully when they do. While we don’t suggest you fold EVERY time they bet, you do need to be cautious. There could be some reason behind their moves - if you can figure this out, you can figure out what to do next.
You’ll always find opponents who have gone against all our sound advice and continue to bet as if their lives depend on it. When you encounter these players there are several things to consider. If you feel your hand is strong enough, the easiest thing to do is to let them work away. Their actions will only serve to further build the pot. The pot that, with any luck, you’ll be taking home. Some poker pros also employ floating when they feel sure that their opponent is bluffing with continuation bets. Floating means to call an opponent's post-flop bet with a weak hand to try and bluff on a later street. This is often done following a continuation bet when the person “floating” with a call suspects the player may not have a strong hand, but is waiting until the turn or river to make the bluff bet or raise. Given certain inexperienced players’ reputation for weak continuation betting, you’d be surprised how profitable this strategy can be.