Continuation betting in no-limit Texas Hold’em
A couple of years ago I read an article by a top Texas Hold em player called Bryan Devonshire who claimed that he “didn’t continuation bet anymore”. I read that article with interest but didn’t agree with what he had to say. However that was in around 2008-2009 and I had only started playing no limit towards the end of 2007 and so I hadn’t been playing all that long. It is only now with more knowledge and more experience do I now see where the crux of that article came from. What the author wasn’t saying is that you should never continuation bet, it's one of the important Texas Holdem Tips.
You should try to erase the words “always” and “never” from your poker vocabulary. So what he was saying was that he was eliminating the percentage of his range that he c-bet with. When you look at this in another way then there are as many or more reasons not to c-bet than there are to c-bet. In this article then I am going to assume classic c-betting conditions of being heads up with position. So let us look then at some reasons not to c-bet. Firstly your opponent is expecting a continuation bet and so the move has no surprise value.
Checking behind eliminates the flop check-raise on behalf of your opponent and so this is a second reason not to c-bet. A third reason is for pot control, if you c-bet and it gets called then if you have air on the turn then you may have to not only bet again but you may have to fire another barrel on the river as well or even stack off depending on stack sizes. A follow on reason for not c-betting is that it gives you a better risk reward ratio as you are not expending too much money to win the pot.
Also checking behind does not make you look like a player who is blindly trying to blast his opponents from the pot! It could allow you to win the pot deeper into the hand as well in other ways. Say that your opponent decides to bet the turn and the turn card gives you a draw to a flush or a straight. Now you can raise with decent equity and win more money when your opponent folds. Plus because you didn’t bet the flop then your opponent could be thinking that you slow played a big hand.