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I am aware of the idea of a continuation bet, where you bet again on the flop, after a pre-flop raise. However, I'm not that sure on when I should and shouldn't do it. I tend to do it if I get the idea (from other players checking, say), that other players have missed the flop, but it would be useful to have more specific things to look for.

Also, how big should continuation bets be? I've heard between half and the full pot as a guide, with the higher end for if the flop has high draw potential (lots of hearts, say). Is that reasonable?

How much does it make a difference if I have hit the flop or not? Also, how much of a difference is there between cash games and tournaments?

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I would say that you want to make a continuation bet a large percentage of the time if you have signalled you are in the lead and no opponent has signalled otherwise. What this "large percentage" is probably depends on what you are comfortable with and how aggressive you are, but I would estimate it would vary from 50% to 100%. Continuation betting on every single flop will make you predictable. You should also factor in how tight the table is - placing the bet more at a tight table and less at a loose table or against loose opponents.

Don't vary your bet based on whether or not you hit the flop. This gives a signal to your opponents which will eventually allow good opponents to tell whether you hit the flop. Vary your bet based only on the texture of the flop - as you mentioned, a flop with more draw possibilities rates a larger bet, although some flops may be so dangerous that you may not make a continuation bet at all (i.e. Jh, Qh, Kh) if you did not catch a piece of them.

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Assuming you play no-limit cash games:

Personally, I like to cbet every single flop but only if i was the aggressor preflop (that means i raised before the flop - no one re-raised me and there are one or more callers). If the aggressor was someone else, you should be more careful: Obviously you want to raise the flop for value if hit something (and you think you are ahead). In that case, your bet size should depend on the structure of flop (draw heavy means bigger bets). If you miss, you have to consider to fold.

A few words regarding bet size:

  • Bets less than 1/3 the pot are meaningless in almost every situation (exception are thin value bets and so on in higher stakes games - you probably have quite a few things to lean, before you need to worry about such things).
  • Bets more than 1/1 the pot are usually to much - you just don't get called by weaker hands often enough to make it profitable in the long run.
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Every bet you make, must be for one of two main reasons:

  1. Bet for value
  2. Bet for bluff

Every time you bet, you have to ask yourself, why are you doing it, and continuation bet is not an exception. I'm not gonna explain what the reasons mean as it's off-topic, but you can read about it e.g. here: http://www.cardschat.com/reasons-for-betting.php

Your reasons for cbet should vary on what type of game you're playing, and what kind of opponents you're dealing with. If you play a freeroll, or a low-stakes cash game, you better cbet only for value, because weaker opponents will tend to call you even with the lowest pair, or similar weak hands, thus making your cbets less profitable. Also a lot depends on your table image, if you think other players see you as a tight player, you can bet for bluff from time to time, without any damage. If they think you're playing loose, you will profit from value betting more.

The bet size shouldn't be less than 1/2 of the pot, and more than the pot, but this may also vary depending on the players, and the board texture. If you're dealing with a drawy board, you should bet more than is the pot, to lower the pot odds for players waiting for the draw to complete.

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