AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 14.01.2021 · last updated 14.01.2021

Those players who are new to online poker will at some point in their development come across the so-called Continuation Bet. This is when a player follows up an initial pre-flop raise with an opening bet on the Flop, thus continuing the aggression (hence the name).

There’s more to a continuation bet (C-Bet) than automatically betting the Flop for the sake of it (or, at least, there should be!). First, we might simply have hit the Flop, in which case our C-Bet is aimed at getting as much value as we can for our strong hand. That’s a pretty straightforward situation.

The other scenario is far more complex and presents us with one of the conundrums of poker, namely how do we decide whether or not to make that C-Bet which, in these cases, is more of a bluff.

Yet again, aggression is the keyword, and one which new players should have in their minds constantly when playing poker. In the case of the continuation bet, it’s the aggression factor that plays an important role because, after missing the Flop, it’s representing strength and caring off the opposition that gives us the best chance of picking up the pot. Otherwise, we’re in a battle, possibly through to the River, or – quite feasibly – we might ourselves have to concede. Finding a way for our opponents to fold is essentially a massive part of the game, and this is why it is vital to incorporate into our bag of tricks the use of the continuation bet as a tactic. Note the term ‘tactic’ here – the point is that there should be a level of planning, intent, and aforethought, not an afterthought! Instead of being inspired to throw in a random pre-flop raise, or raising because we have a good starting hand, and then, when an unhelpful Flop appears, randomly betting again, there needs to be concrete reasoning throughout, including having a defined plan from the beginning.

This can be done properly only if we have a workable level of understanding of both the mechanics and reasoning of the continuation bet. In a future article (coming soon) we’ll go into detail regarding the main factors that we should take into consideration. If you’re wondering what might these be, think about the following:

  • Did we hit the Flop?
  • Our cards.
  • How many players saw the Flop.
  • Our table image.
  • Our opponents’ previous actions when faced with a C-Bet.
  • How much to bet.
  • Our position.
  • The board.
  • The strength of the opposition…

Remember that when we hit the Flop, unless there’s a specific reason not to, it’s usually correct to bet out anyway, and especially when this takes the form of a C-Bet. The point is that if we’re strong and we’re up against, for example, alone opponent with a good but inferior hand, we’re more likely to paid off because our aggression could be interpreted as seeing the C-Bet strategy through by representing a strong hand rather than actually having one.

Any instance other than hitting takes us to the realms of a C-Bet effectively being a bluff (or, for example, in the case of an okay or marginal hand, a semi-bluff), in which case we need to get our poker thinking caps on and weigh up the relevant factors mentioned above.

Hopefully, this article provides food for thought for new and inexperienced players. Keep your eyes peeled for a more detailed treatment…

Have fun!

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