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Picking off Continuation Bets

What happens when you catch the coveted poker hand Ace / King suited, let’s say of diamonds this time, and you are first to act? You are feeling pretty good about your hand pre-flop so you raise quite a bit and you get a couple of callers. You are pretty happy until a huge dud of a flop comes – something like 10 / 8 / and a 3 none of which are diamonds. Now you’re stressing out. What do you do? You just put a huge pre-flop raise and you completely missed. You hate losing like this. You decide to go with a continuation bet, and raise it up pretty handsomely. All your opponents fold and what seemed like could be a devastating loss turned into a not so bad victory after all – a very nice turn out.

This sequence of events, commonly called “continuation betting” happens all of the time in the poker table for good reason. It’s a good move and many people make a killing off of it. It’s something you should learn to make a living off, but it’s also something you should learn to make a living against.

Picking off continuation bets take a little guts. If a similar situation like the one above happens, and you are not the person making the continuation bet, but last to act, you should have your radar up. People who are first to act usually don’t raise unless they have a pocket pair or an Ace with a high kicker. You should realize this immediately. You should also try to catch any signs or tells he may be showing that say “wow this is a terrible flop for me.” Maybe he looks a little nervous? Is he leaning back in his chair? How long did it take him to make that bet, since a continuation bet usually isn’t automatic decision? If you see any signs or have any thought that he may be trying to throw a continuation bet out there then you should definitely re-raise – and do it very fast and confidently because chances are you totally missed the flop and are bluffing as well. If your opponent calls then he probably has a pocket pair of Jacks or lower, or is just going out on a limb for outs. Hopefully you’ll catch your outs on the turn – but most of the time, he is probably going to fold before you even get the rest of your chips that you raised with into the pot.

Continuation bets are tricky. If you are once again in a similar situation, but with a high pocket pair instead of Ace / King and are first to act again you should probably raise just to make people THINK you are throwing in a continuation bet. You always have to think about one play working against the other, as it is with most situations in poker.

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Continuation bets happen all the time, and are a very common type of play. This is because the human psyche is working against itself and most people hate to see their great pre-flop hand turn sour on the flop. You really have to pick and choose with your continuation betting, especially if there is a lot of people in the hand, but you should always try to pick off a continuation bet, especially if you are last to act. If your opponent calls or re-raises you then that is your cue to be worried or to fold, but most of the time he will fold and therefore you will be winning more chips over the long run.

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