Poker: Continuation Bets

When breaking down the difference between good poker players and poor ones, there might be a thousand various reasons why some people make money while others give it away. One technique that goes a long way in determining which players are grouped among the good, bad and the ugly is the continuation bet. Strong players have developed the necessary ability to follow up their initial raise or re-raise after each ensuing street even though they did not hit anything and most likely have the worst hand of those involved.

While scrutinizing facets of your game that need improving, focus particularly on how you react to when you make a raise and then find yourself with nothing after the flop.

One of the best ways to play poker is to play strong and aggressively. From Doyle Brunson to the guy sitting next to you at a home game, power poker is a battle-tested method to winning. However, in many cases it is easier said than done. For example, Player A looks down and sees A-10 suited. He does the customary bet of 3 to 4 times the big blind. Basically he is hoping to scare everybody away and take down the blinds. That unfortunately doesn’t happen, and he gets a caller or two join in on the flop. And this time they have position on him. The board comes down a rainbow K-9-8.

Now the real poker playing begins, and the continuation becomes a tremendous weapon.

Player A is first to act, and he now has nothing and very little on the horizon. He remembers that he initially used power poker and showed strength by raising pre-flop. Many players often just check here because they didn’t catch anything. Essentially, this shows weakness and opens the door for the players next to act to make a sizeable bet and take down the pot even though the chances are high that one of them came away without at least a pair or strong draw as well. Commonly, upper echelon players would lead out with a bet or make a continuation bet to represent strength and make the players next to act make a financially prudent decision.

Weak players on the other hand just repeatedly check out of fear and then display to the others at the table that they don’t utilize their pre-flop raise with a continuation bet. This is a reputation that you certainly want to avoid.

The benefits of implementing power poker are lost for those who have an inability to use continuation bets.

In the aforementioned scenario, Player A should still make a continuation bet.

First off, most likely he or the others did not connect on a pair following the flop. The odds of making a pair on the flop with one hole card are roughly 30%. Skilled players realize most flops fail to help players by making at least a pair, therefore by making a continuation bet, he keeps the pre-flop momentum going and maintains his style of power poker.

Once again, though, skilled players are masters at the continuation bet. They realize they can’t bet too much because it will stink like a bluff and they might get caught with a call or re-raise. Problems also exist with a small raise. Most likely that will get a call and it exposes the player to keep on making bets on the turn and the river with nothing.

Players who have tremendous success with the continuation bet tend to be those labeled as “tight but aggressive.” Players who don’t often get involved with pots tend to win their bluffs because of a continuation bet more than loose players who seldom scare others away.

Understanding the power and presence of a continuation bet is something novice and beginning poker players should focus on while formulating their own style of play.

The continuation bet is one of the best examples to demonstrate that in poker, the winning hand doesn’t have to be the best hand.