Continuation Bet Defense

As a follow-up to our post earlier this week about the three moves every poker player should know (which included the continuation bet), we wanted to talk a little bit about how to defend against this move.

So, you’re on the button with AQ and your opponent raises from mid position.  You decide to call, and the blinds fold.  The flop comes J92 and your opponent bets 2/3 the pot.

Your opponent’s bet is a continuation bet.  He showed aggression before the flop and now he’s continuing that aggression on the flop.  He could have a hand … or total air.  What do you do?

Most players c-bet around 80% of the time and you have to know how to defend against c-bets when you call raises. Here’s how to defend against a continuation bet.

Know Your Opponent

What kind of opponent are you facing?  Is your opponent aggressive or passive, tight or loose?  You have to know your opponent so you can put him on a range of hands.

For example, a tight-aggressive opponent would raise 88+, AJs+, AQo+ in that position whereas a loose-aggressive player might raise 22+, 9Ts+, KT+, A5s+, AT+.  Knowing your opponent’s range will help you determine how likely it is that the flop helped him.

Read the Texture of the Flop

Now that you have a good idea what range your opponent is playing, you need to decide how likely it is that the flop hit him.

For example, let’s say your opponent is tight-aggressive and raised from mid position.  You called on the button and the flop comes J24.  There’s a good chance your opponent missed this flop.  The only hands that can continue are JJ+ and AJs and that’s a small portion of your opponent’s range.

On the other hand, a flop like AK5 is very likely to hit your opponent and you should probably fold to his c-bet.

Decide on Your Defense

There are two ways to defend against the c-bet.  The first way is floating.  When you float, you call the c-bet with the intention of stealing the pot if your opponent checks on the turn.  Floating is the cheapest way to defend against a c-bet and it’s a good defense to use against a tight opponent who gives up on the turn.  If your opponent double-barrels a lot, however, you’ll have to get more aggressive.

A more aggressive way to defend against the c-bet is to raise.  Raising is obviously more expense, but it can be much more effective than the float when you’re facing very aggressive players.  It’ll be hard for your opponent to continue the hand unless they have a solid piece of the flop.

Don’t start calling and raising c-bets like crazy.  You should still be folding the majority of the time.  Use your c-bet defense methods as a way to balance your line to disguise your hand when you’re floating or raising with a monster.  When you use proper c-bet defense strategies, your opponents will have a harder time reading your hand and will be more cautious when you play back at them.

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