What is a Continuation Bet?
A continuation bet is simply a bet made on the flop if you were the pre-flop raiser, even if your hand did not improve on the flop.
The continuation bet is usually used by a player in position against a lone opponent who has checked on the flop. The usage of a continuation bet is based on the knowledge that the majority of the time, one's hand does not improve after the flop. As a result, the first player to bet may win the pot immediately.
Purpose of Continuation Bets
The goal of continuation bets is to take advantage of the initiative. It is normal for the other players in the hand to check to you if you indicate you have a good hand pre-flop. This is a perfect opportunity to bet because even if you completely miss the board, your bet will usually win the pot when no one else has a hand.
When to Make a C-Bet?
There are many different strategies for balanced c-betting in a poker game. If you are following a standard strategy that doesn’t require you to c-bet 100% of your range in a specific situation, then a checklist approach will help.
Once you know who you're up against, you should consider your options for the turn and river if you make a c-bet.
Number of Players in the Pot
The more players you have to deal with, the less likely it is that you would c-bet as a bluff.
Consider the following:
When it comes to heads-up betting, C-bet nearly 100 % of the time
When playing against two players, C-bet 50% of the time.
When playing against three players, C-bet 25% of the time.
On wet boards with a variety of draws, you should bet less and avoid betting marginal hands for value. On these flops, many opponents will semi-bluff raise, forcing you to fold your weak hands.
In Position / Out of Position
Because it is more difficult for your opponent to apply pressure in position, you should be more inclined to c-bet. Your opponents will notice if you make a habit of continuation betting and then folding when called. They'll start calling your raises in position, calling your flop bet, and taking the pot on the turn.
Because a continuation bet is really a small bluff, you should be conservative with your bet sizing. You want to bet enough to let your opponent fold. However, you don't want to bet unnecessary chips when you are called.
You must also take the risk of being too predictable. Both your continuation and value bets should be of similar size. Good opponents will notice if you bet less when you c-bet and more when you value bet.
So you should bet the appropriate amount to complete the job without risking too many chips in danger or giving too much information.
A bet of 2/3 of the pot is a good standard to have. It's cost-effective since it will be more than enough to collect the dead money. It will also be sufficient to begin building the pot when you do have a real hand. As a result, information is not spread unnecessarily.
How to Counter C-Bets?
We should predict who these players are, whether they are turn bettors or turn checkers. We rarely have the luxury of waiting for definitive proof. The answer almost never comes in time in live poker. However, anticipating the turn and checking through a lot will imply the following adjustments.
First, we can bluff catch wider on the flop, hoping to showdown second and third pairs reasonably often.
Second, we should play powerful hands quickly. We have the option of leading the turn or, much better, check-raising the flop. They'll frequently fold to the flop check-raise, but at least we won't lose value against their medium-strength hands.
Third, with draws, we may check-call the flop comfortably, knowing that we will often see two cards for the price we are now paying.
So being able to predict that our opponent would check the turn after c-betting the flop might be valuable.
If you make a hand on the turn that is strong enough to play for three streets, you should bet the turn. Remember, we assume we can't trust these guys to bet against us because they c-bet the flop and check the turn. Usually, that is good, but the infrequent times we have the top of our range, that will not help us if we check to them.
When the criteria described above are met, continuation betting is a solid poker strategy to employ. It should, however, just represent one arrow in your quiver plot. As with any other aspect of poker, don't employ it every time you've been the pre-flop aggressor since you'll become predictable and hence exploitable. Instead, watch your opponents see who doesn’t understand the value of mixing up your game.