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The continuation bet, aka the c-bet, or c-betting, is when a player raises preflop and continues their aggression with another bet on the flop
It is a standard poker play used in almost all forms of the game. The concept is simple – if you are the raiser from the previous street you have the advantage in the hand and should be leading out during the next round to win the hand.
If a player has represented a strong hand by making a bet or raise in a prior round, making an additional bet may represent that the hand is still strong even with additional cards available. This may induce opponents to fold.
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There are many reasons why continuation bets are so common. One reason is that checking after betting on the previous round is a sign of weakness, and is often an indication a player cannot call. So, quite frequently, if you check in this spot you will be bet off your hand. This is especially true in pot limit and no limit games. In these games a player will commonly make a small to medium sized continuation bet in order to protect against being bet off their hand. This is called a “break bet,” because the player who makes it is trying to “put on the breaks” (slow the action) by betting.
There is another reason for the prevalence of continuation bets. As the hand progresses, the pot tends to grow and the field of competitors tends to thin. This provides incentive to bet because of a favorable change in the risk/reward scenario (more money, fewer players in the pot). A continuation bet can also disguise your hand. If you had semi-bluffed or bet a draw on the previous round, a continuation bet can represent a completed hand. This means that even if you miss your draw it is often correct to keep betting. With all of these factors in play, there is a natural tendency for players to continue betting once they start.
Of course the other players in the game know that there will be a lot of continuation bets made with weak hands. They will look for tells from the player as he is making the bet, and will try to evaluate the strength of his hand. If they sense weakness they may try to raise and steal the pot (possibly with a continuation bet of their own).
The Purpose of Continuation Bets
As stated above, the strategy is based upon the fact that a hand is not usually improved upon by the flop so attacking your opponent with further aggression, regardless of your holding, can many times win the pot. It can also be used a reverse bluff when you hold a strong hand and would like to build the pot. The main purpose, however, is to win the pot immediately.
The Number of Opponents
The fewer opponents you are facing the higher your chances of success in winning the pot with a continuation bet. As a general guide, consider the following:
* C-bet almost 100% when heads up
* C-bet 50% when against two players
* C-bet 25% when against three players
Continuation betting against more than one opponent, while much less frequently, gives your game a degree of unpredictability. Although if there are four or more players then you’ll probably want to have hit the flop before sending more chips toward the middle – and a check may be in order.
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