Continuation Bet - Win More SNGs with Calculated Stabs at the Pot?

The easiest way to win SNGs is to have a large stack.

You can avoid all-in situations. You can pick off short stacks. You can abuse the bubble.

Pretty simple, right? The more chips you have the easier it is to win.

The challenge, though, is building your stack.

Sometimes you’ll get real lucky and double or triple up early on.

But that’s not common, and not a strategy you want to rely on. You need to find other ways to add chips to your stack.

One way you can do this is by using the continuation bet.

What’s A Continuation Bet?

The continuation bet (or c-bet) is a bet on the flop that continues the preflop raiser’s aggression.

For example, say you raise to 200 at 50/100. You get 1 caller. The pot has 550 in it. You’re first to act on the flop. You make a bet – a continuation bet – of 350 chips.

Your opponent folds.

Make sense?

Continuation bets work because you’re going to miss the flop 2 out of 3 times. Your opponent will too. Between that and having a weak hand, a continuation bet can force your opponent to fold.

The challenge is that continuation bets are hard to make in SNGs. You only have so many chips to work with – make a mistake and you can cut your stack in half… or worse.

So you have to choose your spots carefully.

Choosing Your Spots – How To Make A Successful Continuation Bet

A continuation bet is essentially a bluff – we want our opponent(s) to fold. We can increase our chances of getting a fold by choosing the right spots to c-bet in.

Here’s how you do that.

Choose the right flop. The board texture will play a role in how successful a continuation bet is.

For example, say you raise, get 1 caller and see this flop: Ah Kd 9d

This is NOT a good flop to c-bet.

Just think about the hands your opponent can have. If they just called your c-bet preflop, they can have hands like AT, KQ, QT or JJ.

You still might have the best hand – but it’s probably not by much – and you’re NOT going to get a fold.

So you’re better off checking or check/folding this spot. Maybe reassess and bet the turn.

Here’s a much better flop to c-bet: Ah 9d 3s

Your opponents’ range barely hits this flop. Chances are they miss it entirely. A continuation bet is more likely to work.

Choose the right opponent. Some players are better to c-bet against than others.

For example, say you’re up against a nit. These guys play face up – they bet the hands they make and fold the hands they miss.

You WANT to c-bet against these guys. You’re almost always going to get folds, and when you don’t, you can be sure you’re behind.

The guys you DON’T WANT to c-bet against or loose players. Remember – we’re bluffing here – you only want to bluff players that can fold.

Choose the right situation. You can c-bet just about any time. But some situations will work out better than others.

For example, one situation you WANT to c-bet in is when you’re on the bubble. The reason – most players are going to feel the pressure here. When you c-bet and they don’t have a hand, they’re going to fold.

And when you DO get action? You know you’re beat.

A situation you want to avoid c-betting in is multi-way pots. Sometimes they can work – a continuation bet looks strong against several players.

But they’ll fail most times because the more players in a pot, the higher the chances someone has connected with the flop. And chances are you’re not going to push someone out of a pot when they connected with the flop.

Choose the right image. Do you know how your opponents perceive you? Are you a nit? Are you a maniac?

It matters.

If you’ve played the last 10 hands – especially if you’ve shown none of them – you’re going to be given less credit. A c-bet is going to be harder to pull off.

But if you haven’t played a hand in the last 10 hands dealt, you’re going to get A LOT of credit. Chances are your c-bets will work.

Choose the right time. Another thing to think about is when you’re c-betting. What’s the blind level?

This matters because c-betting during the lower levels doesn’t get you much. You’re trying to pick up 60 or 100 chip pots when you have 1500-3000 chip stacks. There’s little equity to gain.

(It can also give you a loose table image. This makes it harder to pick up pots later on in the SNG.)

It’s a lot better to c-bet during the mid levels because most people will still have workable stacks (so everyone isn’t just in push/fold mode). The pots you pick up will do a lot more for your stack, too.

The Bottom Line

Like anything else you’ll want to use the c-bet sparingly. You won’t get away with using it every time you raise preflop.

But if you can pick your spots wisely, you’ll find that you take down your fair share of pots, build your stack and position yourself to win more tournaments.