Once you start to learn a bit about Texas Hold’em you are going to come across the term ‘continuation bet’, also know as the ‘c-bet’.
This is a fundamental part of the strategy of any type of poker game, so you may as well get to grips with the concept right now.
Basically, when a player bets or raises before the flop, their next bet when the flop has been dealt is known as a continuation bet. Simply put, the player bet, and now continues to bet.
To understand what is happening here in human terms, when you bet pre-flop you are telling the other players that you are holding (what you believe to be) a good hand.
So when the flop has been dealt, if you do not bet again you are saying ‘I don’t think I have a good hand any more‘.
With the true slipperyness of a good poker player, you would only not bet after the flop if you in fact had a great hand.
Leg’s get an example going here. Say you are dealt pocket jacks, and, position allowing, you have raised accordingly. This raise reduces the field to just you and one other player, who flat calls your bet.
If the flop comes, for example, 9 6 4 no matching suits, then you really should bet again here – the continuation bet – unless you want to entice the other player into trying to steal the pot. While that is a reasonable play, we are not talking about that here.
So, if instead of the rags above, the flop comes A K 10, should you still bet here?
The answer is not a straight forward ‘no’. As ever in poker, it depends. In this case it depends a great deal on what read you have on the other player in the hand.
It will also depend on the size of your initial pre-flop bet. When you bet out, and the other players folded, leaving just one opponent, you should have been figuring what he was calling with. If you figured that was an Ace, then where does that leave you with an Ace on the flop?
Of course, not betting that second flop example leaves you open to a bluff from your opponent. Should he bet now, what should you do with you pocket jacks?
Without a good read it can be very difficult to bet in this situation as it will feel like you are throwing away your chips. Even if you are playing with free poker chips this can be a very hard bet to make.
Anoother situation where you should continuation bet is when there are many callers and the flop is weak. In this case you really must reduce the field to have a reasonable chance of winning. If too many players stay in the pot, the odds of one of them getting lucky by the river increase considerably.
One final way to look at c-bets is to imagine a scenario where you have stayed in the game to see the flop with a marginal or weak hand. When the flop comes and you have missed it, how do you feel about a large bet now from the pre-flop raiser?
Have you ever been in a situation where you held cards that you wanted to play out but has to reluctantly fold due to the cost of seeing the river? Well, that is where you want to put your opponents.