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Continuation Betting - Poker C Betting

One of the most asked about subject while working with students about online betting is the subject of C-betting (Continuation Betting). For those of you who are not familiar with this term, It means betting out on the flop after raising Pre-flop.

Why You Should Continuation Bet
The answer is easy. While Playing Head-up and in general players will miss the flop 2/3 of the time. So if we C-Bet at all of the pots we raise we should win at least 2/3 of them. Mainly because even though we havenít hit the flop, we know the chances are our opponent hasnít either.

How much should my continuation bet be
This question depends on a few different factors. Iíll give you a few examples here to try and explain the concept.

It is standard to Raise Pre-flop 4-5 times the BB. For this example we will limit our discussion to Pre-flop and Heads-up play.

Example #1-
In the CO we hold AKo, so we came in for our 4xBB we are called by the BB only. We will assume out opponent is the standard semi-TAG player.

The flop comes: 8d 6c 2h

It is unlikely that this flop has helped our opponent unless he holds 88, 66, or 22. His 18% range is much wider then these 3 hands and we are ahead of almost all of them. We would always come out for a C-Bet in this spot when checked to.

Why C-betting this hand is correct

1. To protect what is most likely the best hand at this point. If any more action is pursued then we can readjust our read and make the appropriate play.

2. This is a bit of a semi bluff in which we are representing a hand which is stronger then ours really is. We also are counting on our opponents to 3-bet a hand stronger than AK in this spot.

How much to Continuation Bet

Now that weíve covered why you should be c-betting most of the flop when you raised PF, letís look at how much we need to bet when you C-bet.

How much we should bet depends on a few things.

The opponents style of play

The texture of the board

How many players called you PF raise

On a flop like this there are very few draws. Chances are you have the best hand and a C-bet will take it down. It is unlikely there is a reasonable straight draws or flush draws, so you are pretty safe. I see a lot of players constantly betting the pot in this situation, and you do not need to be full pot here. This way we save money when we actually are behind. We only need to bet an amount that we feel is enough to "get them out". In our AK example our job is to get villain to fold. If we feel that 1/2-3/4 Pot Sized Bet is the right amount then that is the amount we should bet; no more, no less.

Example #2

Now letís take the same villain and change the flop. We still hold AKo in the CO and he is still in the BB.

If the flop is 10d 9d 4c

Now we have a different situation. This board has become very draw heavy as there are POSSIBLE flush draws and straight draws on board. The villains 18% has become much larger and there is more danger that he could outdraw us.

We likely are still ahead of his holdings so here we are betting for protection and value. If the opponent is drawing to a flush or straight we want him to pay as much as possible.

If he is willing to call a PSB on the flop with an OESD then we need to make a PSB. (For simplicity's sake I am negating the fact that villains possible QJ are also live outs against our AK here). By making a PSB villain loses the most when he does not outdraw us and he was willing to put more money in post flop because how the flop had helped him.

All continuation bets should be no less then 1/2 PSB to no more then full pot.

You C-bet are getting played back at

this will happen to everyone. A C-bet will not succeed 100% of the time. A continuation bet is a small bluff and from time to time they will get picked off. Sometimes your villain will hit a flop and check raises you. It is then you need to use your knowledge of the villain and decide how to proceed from there.

When you should not C-bet
There are a few spots where you should not C-bet the flop.

1. Do not C-betting OOP in multi-way pots. We have villains that will act behind us, and it is too likely that the flop will hit one of out opponents.

2. We hold a hand such as AA and the flop is KQJ. If we have our previous semi TAG villain it is very likely that this flop has helped him in a big way and we need to get our hand to show down as cheaply as possible so we would not want to continuation bet here.

3. When we are in a pot against a total calling station that refuses to fold

C-betting isnít working
As I stated above, there are certain times when you should hold off on the C-betting because of your opponents, image, etc.

Aside from this aspect my main reason to keep C-betting (which I fail to do sometimes when Iím running bad) is to set up for later hands. Villain 3 times in a row picked off my AKo C-bet on 742 Rainbow flop. Heíll have me pegged as a bluffer. When we come in for a raise with a PP and flop a set and lead out when checked to it is very likely that said villain will be paying us off from the perception we have given him about us.

C-betting will help you set up your opponents to pay you off when you have a big hand. So, although you may be having some trouble with it, keep it going if the conditions are right.

If we are unknown to villain and we C-bet with a flopped set or TPTK and get to showdown, the whole table sees that we are leading out with powerful hands and not trying to slow play them. This is great for your image. In the future our C-bets when we have nothing but air will be getting much more respect because of the hands that we have been leading out with!

As you can see the C-bet is a nice tool to add to your poker arsenal, when used correctly you will be making money with it. The key to playing great poker is to constantly adjust your style to whatís happening at the table and with your opponents. If you do that, you will be on your way to a good night.

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