What is a continuation bet?
Also known as the “cbet,” the continuation bet is bet is gaining popularity at the no-limit Texas Hold’em tables. It’s easy to pull off and it often works well, and players, from recreational and free poker players, to the most seasoned pros like it because they can learn how to use it quickly.
So what is it exactly a Continuation Bet?
A continuation bet is a bet that you make on the flop if you raised pre-flop, even if the flop didn’t help your hand at all. So if you raised before the flop holding K-Q and you saw the flop bring you 3-8-J, even though you still lack even a pair, you can still up your chances of winning the pot by placing a bet.
Why? Because ⅔ of the time, your opponent won’t make a pair or better either. So if you make a continuation bet, and your opponent folds because they didn’t make a pair or better at the flop, you’ll win more pots on the flop than you would by just checking. This is the basic rationale for the success of the continuation bet.
How do you make a good continuation bet?
First, make your bet the right size. Between ⅔ and ¾ of the existing pot is a good place to start. Is the pot at $20? Then put in $15. If you don’t bet enough, your opponents might call, because their pot odds are good if they are at a draw or if their hand is good at all. You want to make it look like your hand is solid, such as a top pair or even better, scaring the rest out of the pot. If you go over 75%, though, your returns diminish and you’re risking more than you really need to.
Second, take a look at your opponent reads. This will tell you whether a continuation bet is a good idea. If your opponent is an absolute novice, he’s likely to call bets no matter what kind of hand he has. This means that a continuation bet might not make sense, because your competition is too new to realize that he shouldn’t bet every hand. Also, if you’re playing against experts, they also know about continuation bets and may realize what you’re doing, and then they may call or raise you figuring that you just have an iffy hand. If you’re playing against an average group, though, then you can make some money.
How does the flop determine whether or not you should bet?
Let’s say you’re playing a few hand at your favorite poker site and you’re holding A-K and the flop shows up 3-Q-6. Your opponent isn’t likely to call a continuation bet unless they have a pair of kings at least, with the flop. Your opponent does have a 2 in 3 chance of having a pair show up on the flop, but even if they get a pair with the 3 or 6, they still might fold because the size of your bet makes it look like you could beat a pair of 3s or 6s.
If the flop has two of the same suit, though, or if it comes through something like J-K-2, a straight draw becomes more likely, so a call could happen. The continuation bet is most likely to work if they have a strong hand made for them without the draw.
Is it safe for trying at the online poker tables?
The answer is yes. You can start practicing at the play for free poker tables and then move on to real money poker whenever you feel ready. Although, you should always take a look at the flop and consider the likelihood of your opponent making a hand that will allow them to feel comfortable calling a bet. The wetter (more helpful) the flop, the less likely you should be to run a continuation bet with a weak hand.