This may sound counterintuitive but since I have stopped continuation betting all the time when I raise preflop and get one caller, I have started making a ton more money in cash games. My win rate has been boosted possibly 1 big blind per hundred hands. The reason for this is that if you have an observant opponent who sees you are continuation betting a very high % of the time your play becomes somewhat exploitable. Below are some of the things will do to exploit this:
1) Call in position and float you on the flop. If you check to them on the turn they will simply bet 100% of the time and take the pot away from you.
2) They will start to raise your flop bet on a lot of the time.
So instead of continuation betting all the time I have varied my play to what I believe is the most optimal way of playing. Here are some of the things I take into account when I bet the flop.
Continuation bet all dry flops
I will continuation bet when it appears like my opponent is unlikely to have hit the board. These are usually rainbow boards and totally uncoordinated.
Continuation bet all draws
I will continuation bet all decent draws, these include hands as weak as overcards + gutshot. Overcards and backdoor flush draws. I will play combo draw hands as if they are the nuts, always betting and re raising opponents in most circumstances.
Continuation betting hands that have no value
For example, if I have two undercards to the board and no draw. I have absolutely no showdown value and the only way I can win is with a bet. So I will bet!
Playing pairs on the flop
Top pair I will almost always bet for value. If I am in position and I have top pair which isn’t vulnerable to many hands (for example, pair of kings or aces) I may check behind these hands for deception against some opponents. If you have a top pair which is vulnerable to overcards: For example, you have Ace 9 on a 9 high flop. Not betting here would be a crime!
Middle pair I will usually bet. The only time I will check behind a second pair is if it’s a pair of Kings or queens and im in a way ahead way behind situation. If I am first to act on the flop, I will nearly always be betting this.
Bottom pair I will usually bet in a heads-up pot. This obviously depends on the player or the board.Situations to check the flop
Multiway pots are tricky to play with anything less then top pair. Usually someone will have made top pair or flopped some kind of draw. You should only be betting your hands for value if you can’t represent a really strong hand. For example, if u raise under the gun and the board comes down really dry with an ace. Your opponents either have an ace or don’t. A strong bet here will only be called when your opponent has an ace (or is a complete retard) Check / folding middle pairs usually seems like the best option, sometimes you will suckout on someone with a better hand if they give you a free card.
Your opponent does not fold
You will find lots of opponents who will just call. They want to see all 5 cards and have a very low fold to flop bet %. Against these players you want to be playing your hand face up. Check your weak hands, bet your strong hands. They will still call you down with middle pair when you fire 3 barrels.
You may have flopped a pair of aces with a weak kicker. If you build a massive pot you will be uncomfortable with your hand, if you check behind you might stand a chance of your opponent calling a turn bet with a weaker hand. It will be unlikely your opponent has many outs to beat you if you are ahead!
Way ahead / way behind – Pot control
You have QQ to start the hand and raise preflop. You get one caller from the small blind and the flop comes down ace rag rag. Your opponent checks. If you bet here your only likely to get called when you are behind or with another pocket pair (but this would only call one bet) In my opinion, the best line here is to check behind the flop and fire / call the turn if your opponent bets.
Boards like above are very coordinated and hit a ton of “calling hands” For example, you raise in position and get one caller. You can almost be certain that your opponent hits this board. Possibly 75% of the time they pick up some kind of pair, some kind of draw. Say you are dealt 44 preflop and the flop comes down like this, usually I would recommend continuation betting all flops when your hand has no value. In this situation your opponent is so likely to have hit this board, check folding is the correct play.
My last piece of advice for playing the flop is: Be smart. Think about your opponents calling and raising ranges from there poker tracker stats. Pay attention to all the information available and use logic to come to the most appropriate solution.