Bluffing the Continuation Bet – Part 1
Bluffing the Continuation Bet – Part 1
A player has raised in mid position, and you make the call from the small blind with . The flop misses you completely, coming . You check, and your opponent bets two thirds of the pot. You have no idea what he has, but you do know that he tends to make a continuation bet on the flop with a massive range of hands.
The flop has a very dry texture, and so he may well bet with any number of hands. Let’s look at the list of hands that he is likely to bet with:
– An overpair, or
– A set
– Any hand including a queen for top pair
– Any hand including a 7 or 3, for middle or bottom pair
– Any any other pocket pair, from down to
– An ace high hand, e.g.
– An outright bluff
If we look at these lists, it is only really in three categories of an overpair, set or top pair that our opponent can feel confident about his hand. Moreover, the overpair and set possibilities will come up far less often than the group of the pocket pairs, and indeed ace high hands.
Our conclusion is that a check-raise is a move that would be difficult for our opponent to contend with in many of the scenarios.
This idea is integral to a tricky aggressive game. It uses the knowledge that many hands miss many flops. This knowledge is normally the weapon of the continuation bettor, but we are turning it against him. The check-raise is seen to be a very strong play, and you will be suspected of bluffing less often.
Let’s have a look at some of the ideas behind this part of the game:
What is the right kind of flop?
The best kind of flop is one with a dry texture, i.e. a flop which offers few possibilities for a made hand, or for a draw. If there are many draws available on a flop like , the move is far less effective as your opponent may call you on a draw despite believing that he is behind.
So, the best flops are unconnected, have no cards of the same suit, and have a lack of broadway cards (ten up to ace). The best scenario is to have one high card, ideally a queen or a king, so that you can represent you have hit it. If you make a move against your opponent on a flop as low as , you are less likely to succeed than on a board. On the first flop, your opponent will find it difficult to put you on a strong hand, and is more likely to hold on to any pocket pair, or even a hand like high.
So, the ideal boards on which to move are, for example,
but the situation does not have to be perfect, and the following boards offer a good chance for success
What is the right way in which to bluff?
As with many outright bluffs in poker, the most effective move is often made in two stages. A check-raise followed by a decent bet on the turn looks like a very strong play, and will put real pressure on your opponent.
To this end, it can be effective to make a small check-raise on the flop, and follow it up with a good bet on the turn. The small flop move has the added advantage that your opponent may helpfully warn you to halt the move by re-raising. This may signal he has a strong hand, and even if he himself is bluffing, it gives you a warning that this is a hand on which he is ready to stand up to you. You can get away for cheaper than you might have done.
If you make a very large raise on the flop, it challenges your opponent to make his decision right there. If he does commit a lot of chips with a call, it becomes far less likely that he will pass on a later street. The beauty of the small check-raise is that your opponent will call with some weaker hands than usual because you are offering him a good price, and will pass most of these new hands to your turn bet. You are adding a group of hands to the range which will bring about the ideal scenario for you- a call followed by a pass.
Read more on countering the continuation bet in the next article. Until then, all the best at the tables – TrickyRock