A continuation bet is exactly what the name suggest; a bet of the same or greater amount than a bet made before the flop. On most occasions a continuation bet serves as a bluff when you raised preflop with a strong hand but failed to connect on the flop or you are unsure whether or not your hand is in the lead. This is a concept that many new poker players fail to understand and yet it is a crucial component of the game, something that a more knowledgeable poker player will pick up on and exploit to nip away at your chip stack.
Let’s look at an example;
- Player 1 You (SB)
- Player 2 (BB)
- Player 3
- Player 4
- Player 5
- Player 6 (Dealer)
Players 3,4,5 fold, the dealer calls. You’re holding 9? 9? a strong hand worthy of a raise. You make it 600 to go, the BB calls and the dealer calls.
Three to the flop which comes: 10? K? 4?
You’re holding middle pair and you are first to act. What are you going to do? Let’s run through your possible options:
Check: The worst possible decision. A check is the same as saying “I don’t have a K or a 10”.
Minimum Bet: Better than a check, but given that two players before you called a raise of 3 times the big blind it’s unlikely, they are going to fold when the pot odds dictate, they should call.
Strong Continuation Bet: The best course of action. You bet out 1200 which represents ¾ of the pot. A bet of this magnitude will only keep players holding A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10. The continuation bet effectively announces to the two players that you hit the flop and you’re ready to raise on the turn and the river. Both players fold and you take down the pot.
A continuation bet also serves as a probing bet, it will give you a better idea of where your hand is and whether you are still in the lead. If a player calls your continuation bet, be ready to fold on the turn if you don’t hit your draw or improve your hand. Remember that if an opponent calls your continuation bet you must be prepared to fold. You should never consider yourself pot committed after a continuation bet.
You must use the continuation bet sparingly. If you constantly raise the pot after every flop the more observant players at the table will begin to take notice and will not give you credit for having the hand you are trying to represent.