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Explain Poker Like I’m Five: Delayed Continuation Bet

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jan 20, 2016


When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, Card Player brings you this series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept Delayed Continuation Bet

What Is It?

Also known as a delayed c-bet, a delayed continuation bet occurs when the preflop raiser opts to be passive on the flop and aggressive on a later street, usually for deception.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

When you raise preflop and get called, instead of betting the flop, you wait until the turn or river to make a bet.

Give Me An Example

Back in the more straightforward days of poker, a player would raise preflop and get called by a pocket pair, let’s say nines. The flop would come something like A-8-4 rainbow and the nines would check. The preflop raiser would then make a bet, and the nines would fold. Surely the preflop raiser has an ace or they would have just checked behind, right?

But somewhere along the way, some players noticed that they didn’t necessarily have to have an ace in order to win the pot. They could make a standard continuation bet (c-bet) and get nines to fold, even when they were holding a hand such as K-Q. As a result, continuation bets became commonplace, whether the preflop raiser hit the flop or not. It was a play that had positive expectation, meaning over the long term it was a profitable play, so smart players began incorporating c-bets into their game.

But then good players started to adjust. They realized that two unpaired cards will only make a pair or better on the flop roughly 33 percent of the time. That meant that 67 percent of the time, the player making a continuation bet was bluffing! Well, if they are bluffing that often, then they can certainly be exploited.

That’s why these days, players often choose to delay their continuation bet. If you raise preflop from the button with K-Q and the big blind calls with a hand like pocket nines, you could make a continuation bet on a flop of A-8-4 and it might work. But if your opponent is a good player, he may just call your bet or even raise, putting you in a difficult spot. Instead, you can wait for the turn card to peel off, let your opponent check again, and now put in a bet.

Not only will your opponent often read this delayed bet as strong, but by checking twice, they have also narrowed their range considerably, making it tough for them to represent a big hand of their own. ♠