Bluffing Tactics: Continuation Bets
By Loki Luchs of Predictem.com
One of the most basic mistakes a novice player can make is to give an indication of a strong hand and then to waive a flag of surrender when the starting hand doesn't improve with the flop. Anytime that you have a premium starting hand, for instance a strong Ace or a medium pair, it's a mistake to not follow your initial bet with a continuation bet on the flop. In fact, professional players continuation bet roughly 60-70% of the time when they miss the flop! By taking this action so often, it keeps your opponents from knowing exactly how strong or weak your hand is. Since your opponents will miss more often than they will hit, continuation bets often pick up the pot as it stands.
One of the best parts of the continuation bet is that it makes it more difficult for your opponents to tell the difference between your big slicks and your pocket rockets. (In some cases, they won't know your big slicks from your 8/4 off-suit!) We all know that big slick is only a good hand when it hits, but by betting your opponents won't be able to be certain that you have Ace high instead of an over-pair. This is true of the opposite, too! You will get better equity against one or two opponents when you are well known as a regular continuation better! When you pick up a strong starter, your opponents may simply call any flop bet with a single pair because they want to see if you'll continue to bet on the turn.
One of the times where it might be important to increase the number of continuation bets is when you're against a few players that are loose pre-flop and rocks on the flop. This happened in a game that I recently played in. A maniac who had been running over the entire table was raising pre-flop between 8-12 times the big blind almost every hand. While I had the common sense to fold, having had a long run of dead cards, he consistently would get 3-6 callers. (While I agree with the fact that you should call loosely against a maniac, these stragglers' post-flop play baffled (and infuriated) me.) Almost 90% of the time he would continuation bet on the flop and all players would fold almost every time. One rock flashed me A/J suited as he mucked on a flop of Ac 3c Jc. Not only were these players surrendering vast numbers of chips pre-flop, they were waving white flags of surrender when they had winning hands!
When you're against rock tight players, playing aggressively is the only way to make any headway in the game. Remember that the more times that you press them into making a decision for all of their chips, the more times they are likely to make mistakes. They'll make mistakes both with the best and worst hands, so challenge them often enough that you're going to show a profit from it!
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