How to Use Continuation Bets in Your Online Poker Strategy

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BetMGM Jan 10, 2023, 4:11 AM

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional poker player, it doesn’t hurt to want to enhance your skills at the poker table. Thanks to the internet, players have access to all kinds of information and guides to help them become better poker players. To improve your pre-flop betting strategy, we’ve put together a beginner-friendly guide on continuation bets and how to use them when you play Texas Hold’em poker online. Keep reading to learn more about this poker bet and how it can elevate your strategy.  

What is c-betting in poker?

The continuation bet, or the c-bet as it’s known, is a popular strategy used especially in Texas Hold’em poker. Simply put, the last player who made an aggressive action “on the street” is responsible for choosing whether or not to make the continuation bet. This process starts when you raise before the flop (when the first three community cards are dealt,) and then execute the first bet on the flop. Your opponent will likely fold, meaning you stand to win more pots on the flop than if you had simply checked. However, this is not the only factor required for success with this bet. A continuation bet can also be made when a player has missed the flop but has entered the pot as the pre-flop raiser.

How does it work?

First, the c-bet is made when the player wants to bluff (to scare off other players,) or the player genuinely has a great poker hand and wants to play for more money.

The basic idea of the continuation bet is that a hand is often not fully improved by the flop, so going on the offensive may result in you winning the pot. This strategy also works as a reverse bluff for players holding a stronger hand to increase the pot. The c-bet is usually more effective when you’re playing against fewer opponents – if you’re playing against more than one opponent, it makes it harder to make a prediction in the game.

What do continuation bets look like in poker games?

This type of bet usually follows the bet on the flop and is between one-half to the full size of the pot. Let’s look at an example of a continuation poker bet. 

Let’s say you were playing a Texas Hold’em poker game. 

The action is folded to your pre-flop. You decide to open-raise, and the small blind and the big blind at the table call your raise. 

This would make your raise the final aggressive action. When the flop arrives, both of your opponents check to you, and you make your next bet regardless of whether you connect with the board (community cards.) This bet would be a continuation bet. 

Another example is a $2/4 no-limit cash game. In the pre-flop, you raise to $16 with ace–king. Only the last player to act calls. After the flop, you bet $30. This $30 bet would be a continuation bet. 

Bet sizing for continuation poker bets

Bet sizing can make or break your poker strategy. It’s important to decide on the size of your stake before you make a continuation bet. To do this effectively, you need to learn your opponents’ play style and behavior, the bet sizes and how you’re perceived at the poker table. At brick-and-mortar casinos, physical tells play a major role. When you’re playing poker online, the information you get from your opponent is the time and money spent on the table, as well as what they reveal on the chat. 

There are two reasons why players need to balance their bet size. Small bets may result in your opponent’s calling. However, you also don’t want to be reckless and put too much of your bankroll into the pot. Use the pot size as a guideline for bet sizing. A great c-bet is two-thirds to three-quarters the size of the pot. This is an effective strategy to make your opponent think that you have a much stronger hand and scare them out of the pot. If your bet is very low compared to the pot size, your opponents are likely to call, thinking that they have a better hand or that you’re most likely to draw.

To avoid giving the other players a hint, you’ll want to remain consistent and bet the same stakes, pre- and post-flop. For instance, betting small will invite calls, and the bets will become more costly if your opponent has a good hand.

hands at poker table holding poker chips and cards

When is a good time to place a c-bet?

You should only decide to place a continuation bet when you know the type of opponent you’re up against. Are they an aggressive poker player, or have they folded on the continuation bets made by other players? Remember that your opponents will often miss the flop completely, making this strategy even more effective. Just remember that this doesn’t guarantee you a win every time — sometimes, your opponents may try to trick you.

You don’t want to fire a continuation on every occasion. If your opponent becomes aware of your strategy, they might be able to trap you. When you place a c-bet, the goal is to have your opponent fold. Another important thing to note is that some boards will be better than others. The best c-bet is the one that helps your hand. Aces and kings are good to have on the board, as they make for perfect continuation bet situations. 

Aerial view of people at a poker table with cards and poker chips

When to avoid placing a c-bet

Remember, any strategy used 100% of the time will not be effective. Yes, there are bad flops with continuation bets too. A bad flop can happen when the c-bet helps your opponent’s hand and gives them a reason to call. Of course, you’ll want to avoid this kind of situation. Here are a few instances when it’s best to avoid making this type of bet. 

When you suspect your opponent has high-ranking cards

Online poker is a game of prediction, and you can never know which boards will help you and which won’t. You need to predict the hand that your opponent is likely to have called with and guess whether it’s strong enough for them to stick around. You don’t want to bet if they have high-ranking cards – for instance, a straight hand with 7, 8 and 9. In that case, you’re better off just checking. 

When you’re playing against many opponents

You may also want to avoid continuation betting if you’re playing against many opponents. Your c-bet is highly unlikely to work if multiple opponents call after you’ve raised before the flop. The more opponents there are, the higher the chances of you getting called. Online poker tournaments usually have higher numbers of players at their tables. Also, if you’re up against a player who calls in every turn, it’s best to keep your continuation betting to a minimum.

When your position gives away your strategy

Always remember your position (the order in which players are seated at the table). It becomes more difficult to c-bet when you are out of position. If you fire a c-bet in every turn and suddenly give up when your opponents call, they’re likely to notice and forfeit the pot by calling your raises in position and calling your flop bet. Always keep your c-bets to a minimum if you raise before the flop is called in position. Aggressive opponents are most likely to make your playing strategy more difficult.

Playing in a good position gives you the advantage to measure the strength of your opponent’s hand. In that case, you can make continuation bets more often.

Can you make a c-bet outside of the flop?

man playing online poker with laptop, cards, and chips on a green poker table

Yes, the continuation bet can be made outside of the flop. In fact, it tends to be more successful on the turn. This is because most players are likely to call a bet without a strong holding hand on the flop, given the popularity of the c-bet. If your opponent unnecessarily checks you in position on the flop, you can check to see their action on the turn. If they repeat the same move, you can make your c-bet. With only the river betting round left, it will become difficult for them to bluff, call or check-raise. This is your opportunity to collect the pot!

How to defend yourself against c-bets

In the same way, you can use c-bets against your opponents, they can also be used against you. A simple way to avoid this is to call more often in position when you have a medium or strong hand. As you spend more time playing poker and learn to analyze your opponents, you’ll be able to spot continuation bets from genuine value bets. A c-bet that’s always easy to spot is a pre-flop raiser who bets more than half the pot on the flop and then checks on the turn after you or another player calls. When this happens, there’s a high chance it’s a c-bet, and you should place a strong bet to take the pot away from them. 

Improve your strategy with our beginner-friendly online poker guide

Continuation bets have become popular in Texas Hold’em poker, and it makes sense for players to familiarize themselves with the strategy and use them when they play poker games online.

If you want to learn more about the game of poker and possible strategies, the BetMGM live dealer online casino has a handy online poker guide to help new players understand poker variations and hand rankings. The guide also features a glossary of poker terms to help novice players sound like pros. 

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At BetMGM, there’s a poker variation for every kind of player and buy-in for every kind of budget. Variations include Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, Omaha and many more. Our site hosts over 70 daily poker tournaments. Still not convinced? Let’s sweeten the deal. When you join BetMGM, not only do you get a 100% deposit match of up to $1,000, but you also earn Regulars Rewards every time you play. Register today to experience premier online poker for yourself.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.