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October 4, 2008

Online No Limit Texas Hold’em: The Continuation Bet

Everyone who plays Texas Hold em knows what the continuation bet is. It has gotten to be knowledge that you learn in poker 101 and most online players have had some exposure to at least some initial instruction. Because of this, the  bet is widely used online, thereby rendering it virtually useless in most situations. Online poker is has difference nuances than live, brick-n-mortar, Texas Hold em. Since this type of  bet has become such a standard play made by so many players, it is better to use it sparingly.

There are times that I will use a continuation bet and times that I won’t. The times that I won’t usually out number the times that I do use it. Many players simply will not respect continuation bets because it is so commonly used. For this reason, you need to use it much less often.

For example, I will use it very early in a SNG or after sitting down at a cash game. Let the other players see it once and then don’t use this weapon again for awhile. You will usually get credit for it once. Try it twice and you may find yourself re-raised all-in. The problem is, you can’t put them on a legit hand if this happens because they could just be punishing you for making the  bet. The way to avoid this problem is just do not make many.

In some games, I may not make bets at all unless I hit the flop. In which case it becomes more of a value bet than a continuation bet. However, it looks like a continuation bet to other players. You only need to show down one hand where you actually hit the flop, gave the impression of making a continuation bet, and won the hand. After that, you can continuation bet practically a will for a bit, since players will now respect it, fearing that you have an actual hand. In these cases, it is better to not make continuation bets until you have shown down an actual hand. It will give your bets more credence.

As a general rule of thumb, the more players who are in the pot, the less chance the  bet has of working. If you raise and get 4 callers, your continuation bet has much less chance of success than if you are heads-up after the flop. That’s not to say that you cannot make one, and that it will not work sometimes (especially if you have not made many of them previously) but you have got to remember, the more players in, the more likely someone hit the flop.

Also, when you make a continuation bet, especially in online play, you need to make a strong one. Because there are so many limpers and call stations in these games, if your continuation bet is not large enough, you may be called with any number of different hands. Make a bet anywhere from 3/4 to pot sized and you will find that you will take down the hand much more than betting 1/2 the pot or less will do. Indeed, this is the problem with many online players making these bets; they just don’t make a large enough one.

Another time I make continuation bets is on or around the bubble in tournament play. This is a great time to try and take down the pot if you were the first one in, because the other players are afraid of busting out before making any money. In these instances, I will make a continuation bet every time I am in the hand until someone stops me. I don’t want to see any Turns or Rivers, so the continuation bet is my weapon of choice here. At this point, it takes a real hand to call it or raise it.

Overall, the continuation bet is something you need to have in your poker arsenal. However, since it is so widely used and disrespected in online play, you need to pick your spots to use it carefully. Also, don’t let your ego get involved if someone re-raises you. You took your shot at it and it didn’t work. Throwing good money after bad will not help. Shut it down and try a different tactic the next hand.

To purchase my 224 page ebook The No BS Guide to Winning Online No Limit Texas Holdem or live one-on-one coaching sessions with Chris Wilcox,  click this http://www.chriswilcoxpoker.com/category/kickstarter-2/p
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For any questions, concerns, or opinions,  please email Chris Wilcox at chriswilcoxpoker@gmail.com






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