Continuation betting is a popular tactic in poker and is the act of betting round after round when either holding a good hand – or trying to create the impression that you do. Whereas going all-in when being dealt good pocket cards may have caused your companions to fold in unison, continuation betting can be used to draw them in and create a big pot for yourself. You need to be aware of when to use it, and when not to, in order to make it a successful manoeuvre.
For a tight player, continuation betting is going completely against your nature, but the benefits can be substantial. Tight players rarely raise pre-flop, so when the other players around the table see you bet it should raise an eyebrow. However, because you are betting in a modest manner, rather than being outrageously aggressive, your opponents are more inclined to go with you. By betting again after the flop, many, if not all, will fold, and if the player(s) you are still up against are not betting into you, it is virtually certain that you are holding the top hand. By increasing the size of your bet after the turn, anybody other a novice or slow player(*) will throw their cards in, and allow you the pot.
(*) Slow players are those who never raise until they are sure they have the nuts. They will nearly always wait until after the river to re-raise you but, by the time you use the continuation strategy, you should have already established who these players are. By their nature, they like to get to the flop and turn cheaply, so it is unlikely that you will get caught out that often by a slow player.
Players using the continuation betting strategy will normally raise pre-flop by 3x or 4x the size of the big blind. The bet will be repeated before the turn and then, subject to the strength of your hand, doubled again both before and after the river. You may feel justified to go all-in depending on the relative chip stacks and dynamics around the table, or if you are trying to bluff your way out when your continuation bets look as if they have backfired. Please be aware that continuation betting will work more often when you follow it through to the river. If you stop betting after the turn, it advertises that you are not as confident in your hand as you were pre-flop.
Continuation Betting can be an excellent element within your game when applied at the correct moment. It is not recommended to use this tactic in a tournament when short-stacked, or too frequently when playing short handed, however, it can turn a game in your favour by occasionally enabling you to pick up substantial pots.