Sports & Games

What Are Continuation Bets in Poker?

Written by MasterClass

Sep 9, 2019 • 4 min read

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Knowing when to bet, and when not to bet, is one of the most challenging aspects of poker for beginner players, both at the table and in online poker. You often won’t be sure if you should be playing passively to disguise your hand, or if you should be betting with a weak hand that might be just strong enough to make a profit. Like bluffing, continuation betting is an essential part of poker betting strategy.

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What Is a Continuation Bet?

A continuation bet—also known as a c-bet—is a bet made by the player who made the last aggressive action on the previous street.

This process starts with a player making the final raise preflop and then firing the first bet on the flop. If there are no raises on the flop, and the same player bets first on the turn and river then these are also continuation bets.

What Is an Example of a Continuation Bet?

Here is a quick example of a continuation bet.

  • The action is folded to you preflop.
  • You open raise.
  • Both the small blind and the big blind call your raise.
  • This makes your raise the final aggressive action.
  • When the flop comes down, both of your opponents check to you and you make a bet regardless of if you connected with the board.
  • This bet is a continuation bet. You are continuing your aggression from the previous street.

What Is the Purpose of a Continuation Bet?

The idea behind continuation bets is to take advantage of the initiative. By indicating you have a strong hand preflop, it is normal for the other players in the hand to check to you in order to see how you continue to act. This is a fantastic opportunity to bet because even if you missed the board entirely, your bet will usually win the pot when nobody has a hand.

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What Are the Benefits of a Continuation Bet?

The benefits of continuation betting are related to being able to take down pots when nobody has connected with the flop. There is also some overlap with other concepts.

  • Continuation betting is the first part of postflop strategy that uses the idea of balance. While your bet may take down the pot if your opponent doesn’t have any hand, it will also place them under pressure if they hold a marginal hand. This is because your continuation betting range consists of both strong hands and weak hands.
  • Continuation bets will also help to build a pot if you have a monster hand or if you have a quality draw that will want to bet big on the river if you hit one of your outs. A bigger size pot can tolerate bigger bets before your opponents are priced out.

What Are the Risks of a Continuation Bet?

As with every time you make a bet, you must accurately assess that the conditions are correct to do so. Examples of poor spots are:

  • Making a continuation bet as a bluff against a player who never folds is a losing strategy. Against such players, you simply must make good hands and generally only make value bets.
  • If you underestimate how aggressive your opponent is, continuation betting with a marginal hand will see you raised often and having to lay it down and forfeit your equity.

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4 Ways to Determine When to Make a Continuation Bet

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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.

  1. Your opponent(s). Once you know who you’re up against, you should be thinking about possible plans for the turn and river if you make a c-bet.
  2. How many players in the pot. The more players you have to get through, the less inclined you should be to c-bet as a bluff. Learn more about bluffing here.
  3. Board texture. On wet boards that offer many different draws, you should bet less and be wary of betting marginal hands for value. Many opponents will semi-bluff raise on these flops pushing you off your weak hands. Learn more about board texture here.
  4. In position/out of position. Be more inclined to c-bet in position as it is more difficult for your opponent to apply pressure.

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