When determining whether or not to continuation bet as a bluff there are a number of different considerations. Image, board texture, number of players in the hand, etc. are all major factors in whether or not your bet will get through. However, one of the most important considerations is often times overlooked—how loose or tight do you play preflop?
Most of the time, the proper style that you should be playing to achieve a maximum winrate at smaller stakes, full ring live games is TAG, that is tight preflop and aggressive post flop. When you are playing nine handed and especially ten handed playing over a certain number of hands will definitely lead to unprofitability. The fact of the matter is, no matter how good you are, opening 53os from under the gun is not going to be a winning play just based upon the sheer fact that you will always be taking way the worst of it versus the rest of the table.
But, there are certainly differences between winning styles. If we were to say that you can be profitable in these games playing anywhere from 10% of your hands to 33% of your hands, depending on the dynamics of the table our approach to post flop play should be drastically different especially with the betting lead. If you pay attention to good LAGs, that is loose aggressive players, (people that play over 25% of hands) you will notice that they know when NOT to continuation bet. If a LAG opens the pot and three or more people call, most of the time LAGs should not be firing super wet, raggedy boards that they do not hit. The fact of the matter is even the most clueless of players will notice that they are playing and opening a lot of hands. Say for example, a LAG isolation raises with A♥ Q♥ two limpers and gets called by both and a guy in the blind. The board comes out 5♠ 6♠ 7♦. It gets checked over to the LAG, because players at the lower levels always think that he will fire. What is his best play? He has almost no equity in this pot, all kinds of hands with draws will call him and he is commonly looked up lighter than others because he plays so many hands. A good LAG would check this board and be done with the hand unless he improves.
One of the most pivotal strategy points that has been brought out about no limit in the last few years is when NOT to continuation bet. But let us turn this example around and say it is a TAG that opens from early position and gets called by three players. The same board appears—but instead of the TAG checking he bets. Why? He plays so few hands and he opened from up front that is range is super tight, that is it is usually going to be AQ+ or a high pair. Even though the flop is super wet his opponents are going to have a hard time calling with a hand like 65, scared that they are beat. You see, people will play nittier post flop against a good TAG but usually still fall into their loose passive patterns preflop. A hand like 5♣ 6♣ is too good for them to fold to a single raise no matter what the situation. There is a player that comes to mind at the Bike that plays a lot of $5-$5. He is a very good TAG and people realize that he does not play many hands. He will fire almost any board into three or less players because his range is so tight when he opens. So for him, betting AK on a 567 board still very well may show a profit whereas for a LAG making the same bet into multiple opponents is just burning money. If you are struggling with your continuation bet bluffs figure out how your player pool sees your style and adjust these post flop bets accordingly.