What Are Continuation Bets in Poker?

Continuation bets in poker are a strategic play that involves making a bet on the flop after taking the lead by betting before the flop. This move aims to maintain the perceived strength of a player’s hand. Applied correctly, continuation bets can pressure opponents, leading to profitable situations regardless of the actual strength of the bettor’s hand.

Understanding Continuation Bets

A continuation bet, often shorted to ‘c-bet’, is a bet made on the flop by the player who led the betting in the previous round, commonly the pre-flop. This move is made irrespective of whether that player’s hand has improved after the community cards are dealt. The primary aim is to maintain the perception of a strong hand, as players tend to assume the aggressor has a significant hand, leading them to fold weaker hands, thus securing the pot without further contest.

The Strategy Behind C-betting

Effectively using c-bets hinges on understanding your position, reading the table, and assessing the texture of the flop. Position is key; being in a late position allows you to gauge your opponents’ actions before you make your move, giving you a strategic advantage. Table read involves analyzing your opponents’ tendencies and betting patterns to gauge their hand strength and predict their actions. The flop’s texture—whether it’s dry with no potential draws or wet with many—also dictates the likelihood of your c-bet being successful. A dry flop makes your c-bet more likely to succeed due to fewer possible hand combinations that could beat you.

C-betting and Opponent Types

Your decision to c-bet should also consider the types of opponents you’re facing. Against tight players who are likely to fold unless they have a strong hand, c-betting can be very effective. Conversely, against loose players who are prone to calling with a wider range of hands, c-betting requires a stronger hand or a plan for future streets if called.

Adjusting Your C-bet Size

The size of your continuation bet is another critical factor. A common approach is to bet around half to two-thirds of the pot size. This sizing is often enough to show strength and push out weaker hands without risking too much if an opponent does call or raise. However, this can vary based on the game’s dynamics and what you’re trying to achieve with your bet.

Delayed C-Bet

A variation of the standard continuation bet is the delayed c-bet. This tactic involves skipping the bet on the flop when you’re the pre-flop aggressor and instead betting on the turn. This move can be beneficial for multiple reasons. First, it allows you to save money when the flop doesn’t improve your hand, reducing the risk if an opponent has hit a strong hand. Secondly, waiting till the turn to bet can strengthen the perception of your hand, as it suggests that the turn card has helped you. This strategy can be particularly effective against cautious opponents or in situations where the flop is highly unfavorable for your range, but the turn is more favorable.

When Not to C-bet

Knowing when not to c-bet is as important as knowing when to do it. If the flop is likely to have helped your opponents significantly more than it helped you, a c-bet might not be wise. Similarly, against opponents who rarely fold or in multi-way pots, the effectiveness of a c-bet diminishes. In these cases, preserving chips for a better opportunity is often the better course of action.

Common Mistakes in C-betting

Overusing the c-bet can lead to predictability, allowing opponents to adjust and exploit your strategy. Another mistake is failing to adjust your c-bet strategy based on the specific game dynamics and opponent tendencies. Also, not considering the flop’s texture and the range of hands your opponent could have leads to ineffective c-betting. These mistakes can turn a potentially strong strategic move into a liability.

C-betting in Tournaments vs. Cash Games

The strategic use of c-betting can also vary depending on whether you’re playing in a tournament or a cash game. In tournaments, where the blinds and antes increase over time, c-betting becomes more important since winning pots without showdown can help you accumulate chips and stay ahead of the rising blinds and antes. However, as the tournament progresses and the field narrows, c-betting may become riskier since your opponents are likely to be more skilled and aware of your tendencies. In cash games, where the blinds and antes remain constant, c-betting can be less crucial since there is no need to accumulate chips quickly. Nevertheless, c-betting can still be effective in cash games for establishing your image, exploiting weaker players, and building pots with strong hands.

Balancing Your C-bet Range

One of the key principles of using c-bets effectively is to balance your range, meaning that you should make c-bets with both strong and weak hands to avoid becoming predictable to your opponents. For example, if you only c-bet when you have a strong hand, your opponents will quickly catch on and start folding more frequently, reducing your opportunities to win pots. Conversely, if you only c-bet with weak hands, your opponents will start calling more frequently and putting you in difficult spots on future streets. Balancing your c-bet range involves a combination of reading your opponents, selecting the right situations to make c-bets, and mixing up your bet sizing and frequency. Doing so can keep your opponents guessing and increase your profitability in the long run.


Continuation bets are a fundamental aspect of poker strategy, offering a way to secure pots by capitalizing on the strength shown in previous betting rounds. Successfully integrating c-bets into your game requires a nuanced understanding of various factors, including position, opponent type, and the texture of the flop. Moreover, recognizing when to employ a delayed c-bet can add another layer to your strategic approach. However, like all strategies in poker, adaptation and adjustment are key, as the effectiveness of c-bets is highly dependent on execution and context. Remember, while c-betting can be a powerful tool, its success is contingent upon thoughtful application and continuous refinement based on experience and observation.