Continuation Betting and Wet Flops

Continuation betting is a very popular betting action in multi table poker tournaments which aims to bet an opponent out of the pot regardless of the quality of hand that you have. Most frequently played from a late position, continuation betting involves making a pre-flop raise which is followed by a similar sized raise after the flop and then doubled up after the turn and river. It works on the principal of implying that you have a strong opening hand, which is complimented by the flop and nailed on by the turn, and there are good times to continuation bet and times when it should be avoided.

The best time to use this strategy is when you do indeed have a strong opening hand and you have a couple of passive players around the table who will try to get to see as many flops as possible. They will usually call medium sized pre-flop bets and hang on after the flop if they feel that they have a chance of drawing the cards they need on the turn or river. As you raise the amount of your bet after the turn, they will usually fold unless they have caught a set, straight or flush on the turn, as they know it is going to cost them to see you again after the river. The more players that are involved in the hand at the beginning, the bigger the pot will become – however, the greater chance that somebody will connect on the flop and blow your strategy out of the window.

Therefore, it is very important to use this strategy sparingly and avoid its use when you are playing in front of a player in the betting who you have identified as tight passive – those who will only get involved with strong opening hands themselves, and will wait to raise you after your bet on the river. Inasmuch as it is good to get caught bluffing on occasions (it encourages more people to bet against your good hands), playing a continuation bet where you may stand to lose 18 big blinds (3x + 3x +6x +6x) can be an expensive ploy although over a period of time should be lucrative.

The importance of deliberately playing a continuation bet on a wet flop cannot be underestimated. Many players refer to flops as wet or dry depending on the amount of help they give your hand. For example, if you raise the table with pocket 9s and the flop shows AT4, this would be regarded as a very dry hand because the flop has not helped you in any way, and produced two overcards which may be of more benefit to your opponent(s). However, if the flop came down 983, your only concerns are going to be if they are all of the same suit and somebody is holding a flush, or if a player has TJ and a queen or seven comes out on the turn or river.

The importance in respect of your betting action is to maintain the continuation bet and resist the temptation to push 20BBs into the pot hoping that somebody is fool enough to go with you. Players who see you are following a continuation bet strategy are more likely to go all the way to the river with you on a flop of 983 than call a 20BB bet and you are a very short-priced favourite to still be holding the best hand after the last card hits the table. By maintaining a solid continuation bet pattern when you are in a winning position, the next time you try one, players will be more wary of you – irrespective of the table humidity!