A continuation-bet ‘encourages’ opponents to fold in poker

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First, to be perfectly clear, a c-bet – the abbreviation for “continuation bet” – is coming out betting on the flop after having raised preflop. And, K-Q (suited or not) is a premium drawing hand.

While it is beautiful to behold, almost always it needs to improve to have a good shot at the pot. Otherwise, even a small pair beats it. One out of three times, on average, K-Q will pair-up on the flop. The odds are only 2-1 against you. Of course, pairing up – or catching an even better hand – is what you are hoping for. (Note: This same scenario would also apply to K-J in the hole.)


Raising with your K-Q before the flop is a wise move. The goal is to “encourage” opponents with Ace-rag to fold; then, if you flop your pair of Kings (or Queens), it will have a better chance to survive to take the pot. Because of your preflop raise, usually, opponents will check to you on the flop. Making the bet, then, is a c-bet.

Your opponents are in the dark as to the strength of your hand. They can only guess. You could have started with a big pair or connected on the flop. Putting you on a big pair, often opponents who did not connect on the flop will fold to your c-bet, leaving the pot to you. For added reinforcement, use the Esther Bluff tactic at this point.

However, because of its extensive widespread use over the years, the c-bet strategy has become quite familiar to most poker players; and, as a consequence, they are more likely to call a c-bet – perhaps even raise. Now what? Consider the raiser’s playing traits. If he is tight, then he undoubtedly connected on the flop; play with due caution from here on. If he is a deceptive player, it is likely he wants you to fold. Instead, call his raise – or reraise him. And, of course, always look for tells.

Delayed C-Bet

A viable alternative to the conventional c-bet on the flop is to wait until the turn to c-bet. On the flop, instead of c-betting after your opponents check to you, just check along.

Then, on the turn, if your opponents again check to you, this time you make your bet – the delayed c-bet. Unless one has a very strong hand or a draw with lots of solid outs, chances are your opponents will muck their cards, quite certain you have a strong hand. You win the pot! (Note: In effect, you are semi-bluffing.)

Making big pair on flop

About 30 percent of the flops will pair up either your King or your Queen. If the poker gods are good to you, and no Ace falls on the board, chances are your big pair is the best hand at that point. But there are still two opportunities for a “dreaded” Ace to be placed on the board: on the turn and on the river. The odds may be against it, but it could and does happen.

So, on the flop, if an Ace does not fall, you should bet out (c-bet) to protect your big pair; or, if someone has bet before you, raise the pot. Ideally, you would like your opponent to fold his Ace-in-the-hole – if that is what he is holding. The same applies if he has a hand with lots of outs that could easily draw out on you. We all hate to get rivered!

If you succeed in forcing that opponent to fold, then should an Ace fall on the turn or the river, your K-K (or Q-Q) may still be the best hand. Likewise, be cautious if a possible straight or flush falls on the board. May the poker gods smile on you.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Email: [email protected].

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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