Continuation Betting Strategy

Continuation betting, or c-bet for short, is one of the most common plays used by poker players. It occurs when the pre-flop raiser, that is the player who raised before the flop, makes another bet on the flop. It happens that frequently in online poker that it’s basically expected that the pre-flop raiser will make a continuation bet.

Why is c-betting good and why can you get away with doing it so frequently? Well, the main objective when you take advantage of this flop play is to try and get the other players to fold. It works so often because it’s difficult to make a hand in texas hold’em.

When you consider the fact an unpaired hand is going to make a pair on the flop about 30% of the time, you can begin to see that more often than in a heads up contested pot, the majority of the time your opponent isn’t going to have much of a hand, and a continuation bet will take it down. You might already have the best hand but you don’t want your opponent to realize their equity in the hand by being able to see additional cards, and you can obviously get your opponent to fold a better hand.

Any successful continuation betting strategy would need to take into account the board texture and how it connects with your opponent’s range of hands they would be playing in the position they called from. A board texture can be described as either being “wet” or “dry”. A wet board texture will be connected and have lots of potential draws that your opponent could have, and it’s more difficult to get folds on these boards. On the other hand, a dry board texture is the opposite of a wet one, so there aren’t too many drawing hands that an opponent could have.

It’s more complicated than this though. Since it’s more difficult to have a hand that connects with the board on dry flops, the better players know this, and so will play back on these types of boards. Hence, why it’s useful to know your opponents and what types of players you’re up against, so you can know how they will react to your c-bets. For the most part, though, players especially at the low stakes will play fit/fold poker, and if they miss the flop they will just fold.

Bet sizing is another consideration when thinking about making a continuation bet. As a general rule of thumb, the size of our c-bet should usually be between half and three quarters of the pot. The wetter the board texture is, the larger you should make the continuation bet, and the more dry the board is, the smaller you should c-bet. This is because on a “dry” board, either your opponent has a hand they can call with or they don’t, so a smaller bet will get the job done. Similarly, on a “wet” board, if an opponent has a drawing hand they can call with, they will call regardless of the sizing, so you want to get them to pay to chase their draws.

A good continuation betting strategy will definitely want to take advantage of semi bluffing. This is when you make a bet on the flop with outs that can improve your hand to the winner. So, even if you do happen to get called, you still have a decent chance at winning the hand.

This also means your c-bet bluffs don’t have to work as often as they would normally, since you have decent equity in the hand even when you get called. If you have a board texture that misses your hand but gives you a strong draw like an open ended straight draw or flush draw, then you should definitely be semi bluffing aggressively on the flop.

When it comes to c-betting also keep in mind that on the flop the pot size is still fairly small, so players aren’t going to play back at you much, since they’ve barely invested anything in the pot. This is why it’s going to be much more difficult trying to get folds on the river when an opponent is going to feel pot committed.

With that being said, you should c-bet bluff less against “calling stations” that have shown a tendency not to fold on the flop, as they will routinely call with overcards on the flop even when they’re out of position to try and get lucky. It’s not difficult to spot these players at the table, though.

By following the continuation betting tips above, you can develop a profitable c-betting strategy that will make you a tough opponent to play against.