The words “continuation betting” is now so common in both live and online poker games that I reckon that it stands a fair chance of getting into the concise Oxford English dictionary before long. But there are clear factors at work when it comes to continuation betting and one of those is in how many opponents you have on the flop. If it has been folded to you in the cut-off and you open raise with a hand like A-10 and the button and both blinds call you, then unless you hit the flop then you are not going to make any money continuation betting into three opponents.
The chances that you will be called by at least one player are so great that betting again on the flop isn’t a good poker play. If we then reduce your number of opponents from three to two then suddenly the picture changes and especially after some of your opponents have checked to you.
So we now have a clear dividing line between three opponents and two. But even two opponents can often be too many on certain flops. For example, let us say that you open raise with the Ad-Jc and you get called by the big blind only. The flop comes Kh-4s-3c and your opponent checks to you, making a continuation bet here is fairly standard and will allow you to take the pot down most of the time.
A combination of the flop texture, you being the pre-flop aggressor and the fact that you only have one opponent make this an obvious play. If you change this situation to two opponents then there is probably still value in betting. Although now if someone has called with say a pocket pair then they are not going away!
But three opponents is too many but if we change this situation again to a flop that is 8h-7h-6c then the dynamic alters again. Against one opponent then it is still correct to make a continuation bet. There are too many cards that could come on the river that could give the villain a draw of which they may not fold.
Also you need to remember that your opponent has merely acted to your raise so this board may have hit him. Another factor in this hand is in that you were the pre-flop raiser. This means that your opponent may not necessarily peg you from having hit that board so your credibility is suspect on flops like these.
If we change this situation again and now make it against two opponents then I would definitely check this back. Your opponents could easily be checking to the raiser but now, you have an extra opponent to worry about. Two players who may not believe that you have connected with this flop and two players who may have hit this flop in some way seeing as they only called your pre-flop raise.
It is impossible to present you with every single situation that could crop up. All I can say is that experience will play a big part in how and when you continuation bet and also how much you bet. These factors are what makes no-limit play so fascinating to play. It is also what makes it so difficult as well as the betting is often far more complicated than at limit play.
In limit then your major decision is in if you should bet, raise, call or fold. In no-limit play then if you decide to bet or raise then the question of “how much” comes into play and that creates a whole new dynamic.