Concepts: The Continuation Bet
There is a very clear setting where a continuation bet should be used.
1. We were the pre-flop aggressor.
2. No one has bet yet post-flop when it is our turn to act.
We are holding in early position and raise three times the big blind. All players fold except the button. The button calls and the blinds fold. The flop comes . There are 7.5 big blinds in the pot. We continue our aggression and bet 5 big blinds. The button folds.
Depending on the situation, the continuation bet can either be a value bet or a bluff bet. In most cases, our decision to make a continuation bet does not depend on whether or not we have hit the flop.
Continuation bet vs. Value bet
A value bet is genuine, while a continuation bet may only be intended to look like a value bet. A continuation bet should always be somewhere in the range of half to the size of the pot, regardless of whether it is a value bet or a bluff bet. That way the opponent always has a difficult decision. Our continuation bet could be a value bet if we were the pre-flop aggressor, are out of position and hit a strong hand on the flop.
Continuation bet vs. Probe bet
When we make a continuation bet we were the pre-flop aggressor and continue our aggression after the flop. When we make a probe bet, we were not the pre-flop aggressor, there is either no pre-flop aggressor or he has decided not to make a continuation bet or a value bet and we want to find out where we stand.
Continuation bet vs. Block bet
The purpose of a continuation bet is to continue the pre-flop aggression after the flop. This is often done in order to win the pot immediately, while a block bet, on the other hand, aims to keep the pot small so that we can win it later or give up our hand cheaply.
A continuation bet in later betting rounds
Continuation bets are usually made post-flop. It doesn't generally make any sense to seriously pursue a hand if someone calls our continuation bluff bet. We use the continuation bet to win the pot cheaply. And we benefit from the fact that we had already indicated we have a strong hand before the flop, which increases our fold equity. If our opponent is still willing to call or even raise, then we are usually beaten.
But it would also be possible for us to check on the flop, just like all the other players, so that we can then make a "delayed continuation bet" on the turn.
If we have a clear reason to assume that our opponent is not holding a particularly strong hand and will probably fold if we make a continuation bet, we could also bet again on the turn after making a continuation bluff bet on the flop. This second continuation bet is also often called "second barrel". To fire the "third barrel", i.e. to make another continuation bet on the river, you must have a good read on your opponent and a lot of experience (as well as a good portion of courage). Moves like this can be very expensive and we should only attempt them when we have enough experience to recognize the rare cases in which the situation would be suitable for this type of action.
A standard concept that shouldn't be a standard bet
Although the continuation bet should be part of our standard repertoire, it should not be used by default in every situation that meets the conditions listed above. One reason for this is that some opponents know full well that we generally miss the flop about two-thirds of the time. So if we make continuation bets over and over again, our opponents will soon become sceptical and start to raise us. As nice and important as this concept may be, a good poker player's highest priority is to remain unpredictable so that he won't leave his opponents with any simple decisions.
But there are also other reasons why we shouldn't always make a continuation bluff bet, such as if many players are in the pot and/or the flop is very dangerous. Here's an example:
- Example 2:
We are holding in middle position. Someone in front of us folds and we raise to four times the big blind. At this point we have nothing against winning the blinds right away, but in case we get a call we want to be heads-up. But things turn out differently. The cutoff, the button as well as the two blinds call. The flop comes . The blinds check to us. Should we make a continuation bet?
This situation is extremely unfavourable for a continuation bet. First of all, the number of players in the pot is disadvantageous. Ideally, we should only make a continuation bluff bet against one or a maximum of two opponents. In addition to that, the board is extremely dangerous. Three high cards when up against three opponents who were all ready to call a raise of four big blinds isn't a situation that bodes well for us. Apart from that, a player could already be holding a monster and just waiting for the opportunity to check-raise. In the above example, we should check and fold to a bet. Even if it is checked around and a ten appears on the turn, we should not succumb to the illusion that we now have a strong hand, since any or any hand would beat us. (If the turn card is a , then even a would be enough to beat us.) In this case, we have merely got more outs and can decide based on the size of the turn bet whether we get good enough pot odds or implied odds to be able to call.
We make a continuation bet if we were the pre-flop aggressor, we see a safe flop with at most two opponents and no one has bet before us.
We should not make a continuation bet when:
• we were not the pre-flop aggressor.
• the flop is very dangerous and one of our opponents is very likely to have hit it.
• someone has already bet before us post-flop.
• we see a flop with three or more opponents.
• our opponent is a "calling station" against whom we have no fold equity in case our continuation bet is a bluff.
• we have recently made several bets in a row on the flop, regardless of whether these were value bets or continuation bets.