How to Defend Against the Continuation Bet: Continuation betting is a powerful strategy in Texas Holdem poker in which the player who raised before the flop bets out regardless of whether their hand has improved. The reason that this works is that most players will miss most flops – and the representation of strength through a bet will usually make people fold on those occasions that they missed.
Defending against the continuation bet in poker can be difficult, especially if your opponent is experienced enough to make the same bets when they have a strong hand. Defence is possible only when you are aware that your opponent may be betting with ‘nothing’ after the flop. If you can spot the times when this is likely it is possible to put in a raise which may well take the pot immediately – or to call and look to take the pot after the turn should your opponent show weakness.
The first way to determine whether your opponent is continuation betting is to have a good understanding of the right circumstances for these bets. If factors such as the number of opponents, position, and flop texture and table image are all favourable then there is a high chance that the bet you face is a continuation bet.
Many opponents will give away the purpose of their bets with either their size or length of time it takes to make them. For example if you have noticed an opponent always bets the size of the pot when strong, and half of the pot size when weak – then you are in a very profitable situation. Making notes on what the sizes of your opponent’s betting patterns mean is one key to winning in Texas Holdem Poker.
How active your opponent has been lately can also be used to determine whether they have a strong hand or is continuation betting. If a very tight opponent suddenly rises before and after the flop there is a strong chance that they have at least an over-pair or top-pair type hand. Stay out of the pot in these circumstances!
Once you have determined that it is likely your opponent is ‘making a move’ for the pot after the flop, rather than showing real strength, you will need to determine the best defence. There are two methods of doing this – the flat call and the re-raise.
The flat call has the advantage that the pot is kept reasonably small. What you are looking for is your opponent’s reaction to your call after the turn. Many players will try and win the pot cheaply on the flop if they missed their hand but will give up if they are called. This means that you can bet out to take the pot on the turn if your opponent checks to you.
Rising on the flop is the more aggressive play. Success here depends on several factors including the number of opponents left to act behind you and the texture of the flop. If you are fairly sure, due to bet size or a timing (or physical) ‘tells’, that your opponent is bluffing then the raising defence can have several benefits. Not only will you often win a big pot immediately, but your opponents may be less likely to continuation bet later in the game when you are in the hand. The downside of raising here is that, if you are wrong, you will sometimes loose a big pot when folding would have kept losses to a minimum.