By Alex Fitzgerald, Featured Coach

Your continuation bet got called on the flop. Now, what do you do? This situation comes up all the time. Yet, strangely, people don’t really prepare for it. A lot of players aren’t sure quite what to do when they pre-flop raise an excellent hand (say AK), miss on the flop, dutifully continuation bet, and get called.

You will hear poker players say this all the time:

“I bet the ace on the turn, because that’s good for my range.”  That’s true, but if your opponent doesn’t fold her pair, then who cares? Furthermore, it might be good for your range, but it could be better for her range. Have you thought of that?

Consider the Caller’s Position When You Continuation Bet

Let’s break things down more simply. Not all turns are created equal. If you raise from the button and the big blind calls, you are dealing with 30 to 50% of hands. If you raise from the hijack and a tight regular on the button calls, you are dealing with 6% of hands. Obviously, you should double barrel much more often versus the big blind, as opposed to the button. The big blind will have more terrible hands that they will consider folding.

Is it a Multiway Pot?

If you raise and get called by two players, it’s more likely that one of them will have hit something on the flop. In multiway pots, it’s far more likely that someone has a pair. You can bluff at a hit-or-miss board in a multiway pot. If the board is J-2-2 you can take a shot at it. However, if someone calls you on the flop, it is likely they have a pocket pair and they are not folding.

What Are Your Opponents’ Likely Holdings?

To put things as simply as possible, when people call you on the flop they generally have a pair. Poker players don’t like folding pairs. You have probably lost a lot of money in the past trying to get players to fold pairs. It’s not impossible to get people to fold pairs, but if most of their pairs are fairly decent, they are less likely to want to fold them.

When you bet on the flop, people traditionally will fold their high cards, call with their pairs, and raise their great value hands so they can make more money. If you get called on the flop you can generally assume you are up against pairs. The most likely pairs for your opponent to have, combination wise, are pairs that match cards on the board. By that I mean, if the flop is something like K-10-2, they are more likely to have a 10 in their hand than something like pocket sevens.

So what should you do when someone calls your continuation bet on the flop?

  • Look down at your hand. Does it beat most of the pairs on the board? No? Then you should generally check. They are unlikely to fold their pair and it probably beats yours.
  • Does your hand beat the pairs that match with the board? Then fire. They are going to have a hard time folding a pair.

When should you bluff in this situation?

If the big blind called you on the flop and you are heads-up, it is likely they have a weak pair that connects with the flop cards. If the turn card is not good for any of those pairs, you can consider firing again. You’ll often need to follow up on the river to get them to finally fold their weaker holdings.

Another good time to fire a bluff is when it’s likely your opponent called you on the flop with a high card. If the board is extremely hit-or-miss, such as K-2-2, it’s likely your opponent will call you in position, or out of position even, A-X or similar.

If you fire again, these players will give you credit for a pocket pair. Their float has failed. Nice hand.

I hope these tips have been beneficial to you and your game. For more tips on your game, check out my other posts, such as Three Advanced Aggressive Plays. Best of luck to you.