How To Play The Flop
It is possible to play any two cards in a texas holdem poker game and out play your opponent on the flop. Below are some texas holdem poker strategy tips and tricks that should help your post-flop game.
Think About It
A few things to think about before you decide to check, call, bet or raise:
- How strong of a hand did you flop?
- How many players are involved in the pot?
- Was there any pre-flop raising? Who was it from? do they have position on you?
- What are your current pot odds?
- What kinds of draws are on the board? Be wary of deceptive straights as in a flop of 9 6 T.
- What hands do you put your opponents on?
- What is your current position from the button?
Top-Pair with Ace Kicker
Also known as TPTK (Top Pair Top Kicker)
- Most of the time you should value bet on the flop and continue to do so on the turn, as you often have weaker players staying in with weaker kickers or worse hands.
- Dont get too attached to your hand. A small pocket pair that hits a set on the flop will love to be against someone holding TPTK. Be ready to fold your cards should there be signs of a better hand.
- Watch out for overpairs especially in raised pots. Keep an eye on what cards your opponent is playing.
- Avoid a check-call strategy by either betting out, check-raising or raising.
- In order to protect your hand against draws be ready to raise if someone bets.
Top-Pair with Weak Kicker
Poker Strategy Tip
Hot Tip: When it’s your action, don’t be afraid to take your time over a decision, even pre-flop. Often it is good to make a gut decision, but take a breath, look at the situation again and re-assess. Then you should announce your action. Sometimes all it takes is just a few more seconds to think about your move to spot something you might have ordinarily missed.
Also known as TPWK (Top Pair Weak Kicker) or TPCK (Top Pair Crap Kicker)
- You should bet out your hand to find out where you are. Checking tells you nothing and gives no information.
- In an unraised pot you should bet out and try to win the pot straight away before scare cards hit on the turn or river.
- In an un-raised pot make a value bet and try to take the pot immediately.
- More often than not, you should fold if you are raised.
- Think about how many other players are fighting for the pot and relate this to the strength of your hand. Is it good enough to beat that many players?
- Flush draws and straight draws on the flop will seriously weaken your hand.
- Was the flop all paint (picture cards)? If it was, it is likely you are up against two pair, or an opponent with a much better kicker.
- Avoid a check-call poker strategy by either betting out, check-raising or raising.
The tips here refer to when you have paired both your hole cards. They do not relate to playing a pocket pair and the board pairing up.
- Do not slow play two pair. You should be open betting or raising if you can.
- If you flop two pair but the board contains two or three same-suited cards (or even connecting cards) you should bet/raise out anyone trying to draw to a better hand. Make your opponents pay to see the next card. Work out the poker pot odds they would need to call, and screw them up for them.
- Hitting two pair with a weak Ace. If it is a raised pot, you hold A3s and the flop comes down A 9 3, a player holding AK or AQ will usually give you a lot of action. Let them.
An overpair is your pocket pair being higher than the higherst card on the flop. I love overpairs because they are tougher for your opponents to put you on.
- Bet out or raise with this hand to isolate you opponents and protect your hand. Its better to take the pot now because unless you hold AA, theres always the chance of a higher card to your pocket pair springing up.
- Now and then you should check raise with this hand if you think your opponent is going to bet out the flop.
- If you get raised, the best play would be to re-raise. Most players bet out with top pair (and so they should) so you should raise or re-raise to gain information and isolate play to just one opponent.
Poker Strategy Tip
Hot Tip: Remember, players only hit something on the flop one in three times. 2nd best pair is often good enough to take down a decent pot, if you play it correctly.
The Second-Pair tips here refer to you holding a pocket pair that is weaker than the top card but stronger than the middle card on the flop.
- Decisions are pretty easy with this hand. You are either going to be betting it or folding it. Betting will make weak players, or those on draws to fold. betting will sometimes make opponents with TPCK fold too.
- Fold if there is a bet in front of you. There are few cards left in the deck to improve your hand.
- Take time to think about the number of opponents in the pot and where their position is.
- Don’t be tempted to check-call.
- Fold if you are raised.
Middle-Pair with Top Kicker
- Easy fold or bet, just like Second-Pair
- Avoid playing hands like this. If you are at a tight-aggressive table chances are you will be outdrawn by the river.
- So what are my poker outs? Not that good. 5 outs to make a sketchy two-pair or trips. You could possibly call a bet if you have correct poke pot odds, but you’re gonna need a big pot for that badboy!
Middle-Pair with Crap Kicker
- Fold. Unless you are heads up.
- If you decide to play, then bet or raise. Do not normally consider a re-raise and do not flat call.
Nut Draws with 8 Outs or More
Nut flush draws, two overcards and a nut straight draw, straight flush draws, nut straight draws. You get the idea.
- Instead of calling, consider raising or check-raising to apply pressure to your opponents. Play aggressively when you face only one or two other players in the pot and entice them to fold.
- With 12 outs as in a nut flush draw with an Ace kicker, giving you 9 nut flush poker outs and 3 top-pair outs, you will have almost a 50% chance of hitting on the turn and/or river. You should play aggressively in most cases to give your Ace a better chance of winning if you hit.
- Late position is prefered in these hands as it gives you an extra advantage where you can raise to build the pot. This might give you enough table image to get a free card if it is checked to you on the turn and your hand has not improved.
We are talking hands such as AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ and QJ that miss the flop.
- Look to fold in almost every situation if there are a lot of players involved.
- Avoid betting out into a flop that you have missed. This can prove costly in the long run. You should not be drawing to hit an over card unless you are getting unbeleiveable poker pot odds and there is no sniff of a flush or straight.
- Often when you hit one of your overcards on the turn, this card will give someone else two-pair or better. For example, if you hold KQ and the flop comes T 8 4, a K on the turn gives KT, K8 and K4 two-pair. If a Q hits it could make someone holding a J9 a straight or players holding QT, Q8 and Q4 a two-pair.
Very Strong Hands on the Flop
Don’t you just love it when you play 72u off the big blind and the flopcomes 7 7 2? The following tips deal with what to do if you flop yourself a monster such as a set, flush, straight or full house.
The most common way to play in this situation is slow-playing. Check-call if someone bets and then raise/re-raise on a later turn when the bets are more expensive. If there are a lot of draws on the board for someone to make a better hand, then you need to raise and gain as many chips as possible while you still have the best hand. 2h 3h might look great on an Ah Kh 7h flop but it might not be the highest flush by the river.
Here are a few examples when you should not slow-play a flopped set, straight, flush or full house.
Flopping Trips / Set
- If you flop trips with two same-suit cards on the board, you should be slightly over-betting the pot to put off those players on a flush draw. Its better to win the pot here than find yourself chip-committed against a flush on a more expensive turn or river.
- Again, if you flop trips but with a straight draw on the board, you should bet / raise for the same reason.
- Some people choose to slow play their trips. This is not a good idea. Check-calling will not make you as much money as if you bet it out. Players with TPTK are likely to pay you off. Trips are dangerous because although they are likely to be the best hand on the flop, they might not be by the river. Bet them hard and aggressive but be prepared to lay them down if the board makes four-to-a-flush.
Flopping a Straight
- Don’t make it cheap for the flush drawers out there to see the next card. If you flop a straight but there is danger of being beaten by a flush, raise it up and play it aggressively while you have the best hand.
- If you flop the low end of the straight, raise up the pot to try and protect against people drawing to the higher end of the straight.
- Examine the flop carefully. If it comes down non-connected and rainbow you can afford to play it a little slower. If it comes down same-suit and/or connected then play it hard to push out those drawing to a better hand.
Flopping a Flush
- Bear in mind that it takes 5 cards to make a flush, there are only 8 cards left of that suit in the deck. It is possible but unlikely that another opponent also has a flush. Play low card flushes with caution and get your money in the pot while you stil have the best hand.
- If the flop makes three to a flush you should bet / raise to gain information and to win the pot early on.
- If your flush is low (7 or lower) then be prepared to lay it down should the board make four-to-a-flush and someone is betting it hard. You are most likely up against a better flush.
- Although extremely unlikely, keep your eyes out for potential straight flushes. They do sometimes happen!
Flopping a Full House
- Learn to contain your excitement. There are very few hands that currently beat yours apart from an unlikely/unlucky better full house or quads. Keep calm, cool and still.
- It is more acceptable to slow play a monster such as a full house when made on the flop, however I would not recommend giving away any free cards. Check if you think someone else will bet. Bet in early position, raise in late position.
- If you win the pot uncontested, never show your cards.
Flopping a Drawing Hand
- You should only be playing for draws where you need just one more card to make your hand, unless you are getting unbeleiveable pot odds or a free card.
- Do not play to draw to a straight if there are two same-suit cards on the board. A flush is much more likely to hit than a gutshot inside draw.
- If you flop an open ended straight with two same-suit cards on the board, you should discount two of your outs (these are your douts). You should count two of your outs (the flush cards) as dead, so instead of having 8 outs you now only have 6.
What’s a continuation bet?
- You are the raiser pre-flop.
- You make a half size bet at the pot on the flop. (around 40-60% of pot)
- You have hit nothing on the flop.
What’s a probe bet?
- You were not the raiser pre-flop.
- You have been checked to, by the raiser, hit something, and wish to define your hand and find out where you are.
- You make a slightly less than half pot-size bet. (around 30/50%of pot)
Let’s put this into practice. You are playing in a no limit texas holdem UK poker tournament. Let’s say that blinds are 10/20 – ten players at the poker table.
You raise in early position to 60 with AQs and get two callers in late position – pot now stands at 180 – The flop comes down 2-2-2 and now you are first to act. – It is very likely that at least one of them is now sitting on a full house and you now only have 6 outs left however if you do hit one of these outs then you are very likely to have the winning poker hand.
If you bet at this it would be a continuation bet, however, you are fairly certain that someone at the moment has you beat – so you decide to opt for a lower end of the spectrum bet. If you make a half size bet, you only have to win one third to break even – here we are sure we are beat at the moment, so we lower to say 1/3rd of the pot so that we only need to win one in four to break even – and this bet may even force out someone holding pocket 66 as they may fear a higher pair!.
You bet 60 and one guy calls and the other folds – the turn comes a 3 – so no help to either of you. As he has called your first bet he clearly has something, and there is no point betting again – you check and he goes all in – you therefore fold.
However by betting just 60 you have saved yourself money and if you hit either your Q or A then you are sure to take down a large pot.