Continuation Betting in Position (Ultimate Guide for 2020)

Continuation Betting Strategy in Position
This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Ryan Lewis.

Continuation betting forms an integral part of a successful cash game player’s arsenal.

If having a solid preflop strategy forms the framework for a winning player, then continuation betting would be the building blocks within that framework.

The art of continuation betting is in my opinion one of the hardest concepts to master in no limit holdem, however the basics are extremely easy to learn and in doing so will provide a significant stepping stone in beating the microstakes.

You can make continuation betting as easy or as difficult as you like. This article will focus on the former and will provide a basic strategy when in position as the pre flop raiser in single raised pots.


What is a continuation bet?


A continuation bet (cbet) is a bet made on the flop by the lead pre flop aggressor. Technically it only includes raised pots pre flop.

If you decide to open limp pre flop, and then fire the first bet on the flop, then this would not be classified as a continuation bet because your limp effectively means your calling the big blind.


Continuation Betting Example #1


You open raise to 3BB on the button and the big blind calls.

Flop comes

A 6 5

Big blind checks.
You bet 3BB. This is a continuation bet.


Continuation Betting Example #2


You open raise to 3BB on the button and the big blind 3bets to 10BB. You call.

Flop comes

A 6 5

Big blind bets 8BB. This is a continuation bet as the big blind was the lead aggressor and holds the betting lead from the pre flop action.


How much and how often should you continuation bet?


A variety of sizings can be used. In no limit hold em you can bet as much or as little as you want.

Typically in single raised pots the lead aggressor will choose a sizing between 33-100% of the pot. You can choose a sizing based on your range, hand strength and board texture. Another good rule of thumb is to have a value to bluff ratio of 1:2 on the flop.

In general, you can bet more of your range if you opt for a smaller sizing, such as 33%.

This is known as a merged range which consists of a variety of holdings ranging from the nuts, top, second and third pairs, and a variety of front-door and backdoor draws.

The merged range is used a lot by solvers and requires a little more off table study to implement correctly.

If you choose a larger sizing such as 75% then your range should be more polarised, consisting of top pair and better, and a variety of front door and back door draws. Marginal second pairs and below are generally not cbetted.

You can also adjust your bet sizing based on board texture. The more wet a board is, the larger you should bet. In contrast the more dry a board is, the smaller you should bet.

This is something that Daniel Negreanu actually discusses at length in his poker Masterclass training.

The logic here is that on wet boards villains will have a lot of drawing and combo type hands, so they are more willing to make a call, hence the use of employing a larger bet size.


Wet board examples

T 9 7
Q T K


Dry board examples

K 2 2
Q 7 3

Continuation betting frequency is another complex discussion. There will be several factors which will influence whether we should fire a cbet or not.

These include board texture, hero and villains range, table dynamics, stack sizes, number of people seeing the flop, villains tendencies, and so on.

There will be certain flops where hero will be cbetting in excess of 80% and other instances where it will be below 40%.

For beginning players at microstakes 6max cash games, I advise to keep your frequency between 50-60% of the time.


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Continuation Betting Strategy in Position
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ABC continuation betting example


The example below is a basic ABC strategy beginning players at the microstakes can employ. I utilised this exact strategy when I was playing NL5 and NL10 and it worked like a charm.

It is well balanced with value and bluffs. If you decide to use it long term you will find your cbet stat will hover around 50-55%.

BASIC CONTINUATION BETTING RANGE

It’s little on the tighter side however it suits beginning players and gives a solid structure to start from.

I will base this on a cutoff opening range shown below, and only the big blind has called.


Flop

K 9 4

Big blind checks.

Small Stakes Continuation Betting Strategy in Position

You can use a variety of sizings on this semi wet board. I would opt for a default of 33% pot, which allows you to risk the minimum if your bluffs get called.

If you play on anonymous tables there is no reason why you can't exploitatively bet a large sizing of 75% pot when you have a strong value hand.

The majority of players at the micros aren't paying enough attention to your bet sizings and they will call a 75% bet almost as much as a 33% bet.

This is something that I talk about at length in Crushing the Microstakes.

And of course, how to exploit it!

Anyways though, your value bets should be strong top pairs, overpairs, two pairs, and sets. And your checking range is protected by incorporating some top pair and good second pairs.

This will allow you to defend the turn if villain bets and possibly the river if they fire again. Your bluffs are gutshots and frontdoor and backdoor flush draws.

This example is known as a polarised betting range as it contains a mixture of strong hands and bluffs with reasonable equity. Middling and low pairs are checked as well as hands that completely miss.

The polarised betting range is beginner friendly and ensures you avoid tough spots with marginal holdings.


Continuation betting in position versus out of position


You should know by now that having position post flop in poker is a huge advantage. When we are last to act on every street we have access to more information which allows more clarity when deciding our next action.

This advantage allows the in position player to continuation bet more frequently compared to when they are out of position. When we are out of position we no longer have the option of having the final say on if we want to see a turn and river card.

When we raise first in and get cold called by a player who has position on us, we are forced to play our range more conservatively because we are less likely to realise our equity.

What this means is our checking range needs to be protected even further to ensure we have enough strong hands in our range to defend against aggressive villains.

In the above example it would not be incorrect to check KQ and KJ if we were out of position post flop.

We should continuation bet less often out of position compared to in position.


Common mistakes when continuation betting


Missing cbets is a very common mistake when continuation betting.

It is quite common at the lower limits to find players that are extremely passive. These types of players sit around and wait for the nuts and wont put a penny into the pot without a strong hand.

6 max online poker is not the game to be passive. Most of the time players will not connect with the flop and have nothing at all.

By the way, here is my complete guide to 6-max poker strategy.

Compared to full ring, you should be looking at being more aggressive and taking the initiative on the flop especially when you have position on your opponents.

If I had to choose to be more passive or more aggressive on the flop, I would select being more aggressive every day of the week.

You can easily get away and profit with cbetting higher than 65% on the flop. If you find you are cbetting less than 50% then you would need to look at your range more closely and find extra hands that you can bet.


Cbetting for 100% pot or higher


This problem occurs frequently with players who open limp pre flop and also with inexperienced players.

Whilst not a mistake to cbet higher than the pot, the times that it is used by microstakes players is mostly when they are afraid of getting outdrawn on the turn and river.

Unless you are putting villain on a straight flush draw on every flop, there is no reason to bet so large. The chances of being outdrawn by the river is roughly 35% for a flush draw with 9 outs. The other 65% you will win.

If you have a strong value hand and want to charge draws, it's best to bet between 40-80% of the pot. By betting smaller you also allow villain to continue with the weaker portion of their range. Yes you will be outdrawn sometimes but you will win a bigger slice of the pie the majority of the time.

When we choose to blast and bet 100% of the pot or more, we allow villains to play perfectly where they can defend a tighter and stronger portion of their range.

Remember we make money in poker from our opponents mistakes - not by forcing them to play perfectly.


Final thoughts


Continuation betting at the microstakes should be kept simple.

You should start by betting your strong made hands of top pair and better and checking anything worse than this. Your bluffs should be a combination of flush draws and straight draws.

By following a simple polarised betting strategy there is no reason why you can’t comfortably beat the microstakes.

As you move up through the ranks you will have to incorporate a few different strategies and look to become more aggressive, however whilst playing at the lower limits most of your profits will be from bad players calling too many of your value bets.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to crush the lower limits for some of the highest winnings in online poker history, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

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Let me know in the comments below when you continuation in small stakes poker games. Do you have a special cbetting strategy?

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Ryan Lewis. Ryan specializes in 6max cash small stakes online poker. He focuses on playing a fundamentally strong tight and aggressive strategy. He particularly enjoys the statistics and game theory side of the game. You can follow him on Twitter right here.
Continuation Betting in Position

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