Written By Mike Wittmeyer
The continuation bet is one of the most important plays in No Limit Hold’em once you get to a semi-advanced level of play. It is the perfect move for a tight-aggressive player, and allows you to capitalize on passive players who are scared to make a stand. The continuation bet works at both cash games as well as tournaments, and really masks your hand’s strength. This article will explain what continuation bets are, and how to properly use them to make the most money.
What is a Continuation Bet?
A continuation bet is a bet made on the flop by a player who showed aggression preflop. Typically, continuation, or “C” bets, are between 1/3 and 2/3 the size of the pot, and are made when there are 2-3 players in the hand. Here’s an example so you can fully understand:
Picture yourself at a $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em ring game. You’re in middle position, and the hand folds to you. You look down to find AQ suited, and make a raise to $8. Everyone folds except the big blind, who calls. The flop is A74 rainbow, and the big blind checks. You bet $10, and he folds.
Although the above example is the most ideal situation to use a continuation bet, they also have value in other situations, such as when you miss the flop completely. Now we’ll look at the best spots to C-bet, and what to do if your bet fails.
C-Betting on a Great Flop
This is basically the example above. You raise preflop, get a caller, and hit the flop hard. In this case you want to play the hand straightforward and make a bet of about ½ pot size. This bet accomplishes a few things. First of all, you show your opponent that your hand is still strong, which may persuade him/her to fold a hand like 56 which is behind now but has a good shot at improving to beat you.
Also, you force out hands like 66 which are way behind now, but have a long shot at making a great hand and busting your top pair. Finally, if your opponent has a second best hand like AJ, your bet will be called, and the pot will start to grow.
C-Betting a Poor Flop
This is a bit tougher of a spot, but a C-bet is still very valuable in this situation given a few restrictions: First of all, you should only C-bet when you miss if the hand is heads up or at most 3 total players. Also, the flop should look relatively harmless, because if it is a big flop it is likely that one of your opponents connected and will raise you. Here’s an example of a good time to bluff with a continuation bet:
Imagine you’re at a $1/$2 NLH table again, and have AQ. You raise in early position, and are called by just the big blind. The flop comes down 269 rainbow. In this case I’d fire out a ½ pot sized bet. Even though you have nothing, your opponent probably missed as well, and as long as he/she doesn’t already have a pair they will likely fold every other hand. This situation would be totally different if there were more players in the hand, but since its heads up you’ll almost always get away with stealing pots like these.
The reason you’ll win so many pots like this is since you raised preflop, your opponents can easily put you on a hand like QQ that would have them dominated. Your range of hands could be anything from a small pair to big unsuited cards, so when you bet the flop it’s hard for them to determine if you actually hit it or are just bluffing. Make sure to mix up your play with occasional checks on the flop to continue masking your hands. Good luck!
Mike Wittmeyer is the owner of PokerSite.org, a great poker site for finding an online poker room.