How to Use the Continuation Bet in Poker

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BetMGM May 30, 2020, 8:27 AM
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Whether you’re a beginner or 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. Without betting, online poker would simply be a game of luck, and the best Texas Hold’em poker hand would always win. The skill in betting when it comes to this casino game is the key to making it such a strategic game. The type of bet that we’ll discuss in this article is called the continuation bet. Let’s get into it. We’re sure that you’re going to learn some crucial poker betting skills.

What is the continuation bet in poker?

The continuation bet 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 preflop 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,” as it’s known, 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.

Here’s an example of a c-bet:

  • The action is folded to you preflop
  • You decide to open-raise
  • 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.)

How to make a continuation bet and bet sizing

It’s important to decide on the size of your stake before you make a continuation bet. It would be advantageous 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 opponents calling. However, you also don’t want to be reckless and put too much of your bankroll into the pot. To avoid giving the other players a hint, you’ll want to remain consistent and bet the same stakes, pre- and postflop. For instance, betting small will invite calls, and the bets will become more costly if your opponent has a good hand.

You also don’t want to fire a continuation bet 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.

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.

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. 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.

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

When to avoid 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. 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.

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 – and there are lots if you play at online poker tournaments – the higher the chances of you getting called. Also, if you have a “calling-station opponent” (a player who calls in every turn), it’s best to keep your continuation betting to the minimum.

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 the 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. The reason is that 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!

Play poker online at BetMGM

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’re looking for the best online poker site, you’ve come to the right place – BetMGM!

Our online casino is home to the best casino games, including poker, slots, and blackjack. Register with BetMGM to play poker online and join some of the biggest online poker tournaments: our tables offer daily and occasional poker tournaments where you get to compete with popular professionals and new players alike. Newbies are spoilt for choice with a variety of poker variations. We have guides to get you started on Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, and more. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.