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[NL2-NL10] Content week - instructional sample hands

    • Puschkin81
      Joined: 14.04.2006 Posts: 4,786
      Situations in which continuation bets may not be the most profitable move

      Introduction: It happens often that we find ourselves in a situation in which our pre-flop raise gets called by at least one person.
      As we only hit the flop 1 out of 3 times we often have to decide whether we believe a bluff bet (a continuation bet is a bluff bet in most cases) will earn us profit or not. In today’s article I will go into some situations in which a continuation bet is not necessarily the best move to make:

      1) Axx flops with more than one opponent

      $0.10/$0.25 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 8 Players

      BTN: $11.25
      SB: $4.30
      BB: $23.90
      UTG: $24.65
      UTG+1: $3.30
      Hero (MP1): $24.75
      MP2: $41.80
      CO: $11.40

      Pre-Flop: K:spade: Q:spade: dealt to Hero (MP1)
      2 folds, [color:red]Hero raises to $1[/color], MP2 calls $1, CO calls $1, 3 folds

      Flop: ($3.35) 5:heart: A 4:heart: (3 Players)
      [color:red]Hero ??? [/color]

      In this hand we raise pre-flop, and two people cold call behind us. The flop does not connect with your hand in any way and it is unlikely that we will hold the best hand with KQ at the showdown.

      Basically, for us that means that we can only win this pot by bluff betting and thereby representing an ace. As we raised pre-flop this is a solid move and our opponents are likely to believe we hold that ace.
      But first we should think about which hands our opponents are likely to hold. In NL5/10/25 games aces are frequently played no matter in what position and no matter what the previous move was.
      This means that even if we try to represent the ace our opponents will not care about that. Usually the opponents play their own cards and would not bother to think about what hand to put us on.
      In addition to that our opponents could be on flush- or straight draws or hold a middle pair which could threaten our hand anytime.
      Considering that we are facing two opponents here I do not see us winning on the flop often enough by purely bluff betting to draw value out of our continuation bet.

      2) Strongly connected boards

      Known players: (for a description of vp$ip, pfr, ats, folded bb, af, wts, wsd or hands click here)    

      0.05/0.10 No-Limit Hold'em (6 handed)
      Hand recorder used for this poker hand: Texas Grabem 1.9 by

      Preflop: Hero is BU with 8:spade: , 7:club:
      3 folds, Hero raises to $0.40, SB folds , BB SB calls $0.30.

      Flop: ($0.85) Q:heart: , T:spade: , J:heart: (2 players)
      BB checks, [COLOR=red]Hero ??[/Color]

      [/quote]We know the opponent as a rather loose pre-flop caller. The board hardly connects with our hand at all and basically we’re only on a gutshot straight draw. The possible hands our opponents may have cold called with here are likely to have hit the board hard. Therefore without a strong top-pair or a strong draw checking behind and giving up the hand right away is the best move.

      On the other hand the board could be scary to bet into for our opponent as well, but in most cases it has improved his hand.

      On such draw heavy boards a continuation bet has to be very big (at least pot-size) and therefore needs to work 1 out of 2 times to grant profit. This is not likely to happen often enough.

      3) Calling Station/aggressive opponent IP


      0,02/0,04 No-Limit Hold'em (9 handed)
      Hand recorder used for this poker hand: Texas Grabem 1.9 by

      Preflop: Hero is MP2 with A:heart: , K:club:
      UTG+1 calls $0,04, 2 folds, Hero raises to $0,20, 3 folds, SB calls $0,18, BB folds, UTG+1 calls $0,16.

      Flop: ($0,64) 7:heart: , J:diamond: , T:diamond: (3 players)
      SB checks, UTG+1 checks, [COLOR=red]Hero ???= [/color]

      [/quote]A frequent situation: We are involved in a multiway pot and we run into an aggressive postflop-player and a calling station. The board is quite connected and we are only holding our two overcards and the gutshot straight-draw. We still have outs here, but as there is a flush-draw on the board as well we have to discount these outs. Roughly we have between 3 and 5 outs in this spot.

      Now the board may have helped our opponents. The calling station (UTG+1) does not have to bother us here since he will call anyway. However the small blind may call/raise us with a large range of hands and we would have to fold our weak draw.

      Our position is a clear advantage here. We can choose to check behind instead of placing a continuation bet and decide what to do on the turn instead, but most importantly we receive more information from our opponents as they have to act before we do.

      4) Out of position with two opponents

      0.25/0.50 No-Limit Hold'em (6 handed)
      Hand recorder used for this poker hand: Texas Grabem 1.9 by

      Preflop: Hero is BB with A:diamond: , K:heart:
      2 folds, CO calls $0.50, BU calls $0.50, SB folds, Hero raises to $3.00, CO calls $2.50, BU calls $2.50.

      Flop: ($9.25) J:heart: , 6:diamond: , 6:heart: (3 players)
      Hero ?

      Here we find ourselves in an unpleasant situation. It is likely that our opponents did not hit this board, but especially with bad players limping in late positions there are quite a few hands they could hold (typical ranges of hands for this type of player: broadways, pocketpairs, monsters, aces of all kinds).

      In my point of view we will get called too often on flops like this (for example by someone holding a pocketpair, any ace, a six or a jack) in order to be able to draw value out of our continuation bet here.
      In this spot we would have to bet 2/3 of the potsize, which means that we have to be successful with our move on the flop and pick up the pot in 40% of the cases.
      Especially against weak opponents I do not see that happening that often on the flop and in case we get called here we are obliged to place a second bet on the turn. However even a second bet may fail against unknown players and therefore this is not profitable in the long run.

      5) extremely weak draws vs. callingstations

      0.25/0.50 No-Limit Hold'em (4 handed)
      Hand recorder used for this poker hand: Texas Grabem 1.9 by

      Preflop: Hero is BU with 4:club: , 5:club:
      CO folds, Hero raises to $2.00, SB folds, BB calls $1.50.

      Flop: ($4.25) 7:heart: , 8:spade: , 2 (2 players)
      BB checks, Hero ?

      Semi bluffing with draws is only profitable if the opponent folds often enough. If we however encounter an opponent who likes to have a look at the turn regularely it is sometimes better to take the free card on the flop. Especially if our opponent is passive we may even be able to take another free card on the turn and see 5 cards at nearly no cost.


      The decision whether a continuation bet is profitable or not is determined by many dynamic factors. You should always consider your position, the number of opponents, the strength of your own hand in relation to the board, the approximate probability that our opponent has hit the board and your opponents way of playing.

      However, in my opinion in heads-up games against unknown opponents placing a continuation bet is almost always the right move.
      Exceptions to this could be boards like the one discussed in example #2. Especially if you play out of position in such spots it is mostly a better choice to resign from the hand by checking/folding.
  • 1 reply
    • chenny8888
      Joined: 03.10.2007 Posts: 19,324
      very nice article!

      I'm uncertain about the size and effectiveness of continuation bets in position against one weak player on very scary boards, however (example #2).

      If you are indeed holding a monster, such as a made straight, you would bet out about half to 2/3 of the pot in order to both attempt to draw value out of your hand and also make it a mistake for a flush draw to call. This is because a bet past that point (pot, 1.5 x pot) would simply mean you want to buy the pot right there thus indicating weakness of some sort.

      If the opponent is indeed very loose pre-flop, there is no guarantee he would be holding even a pair at this point; perhaps he is holding on to an open ended straight draw or a gut-shot, in which case a mathematically fastidious opponent would then fold to our half pot "value-bet".

      Same sort of break-down can be done for other draw-heavy boards such as monochrome boards, etc. It really depends on the gullibility of the opponents, and how tight/loose they are.