The cliche about the flop is that it’s the turning point of the hand, since it’s where more than half of the board cards are revealed. But the flop isn’t important just because of the number of board cards that come out. The flop is a critical pot-building betting round. Pots with a flop bet become much larger on average than pots without one.
This fact makes betting the flop generally attractive, especially against opponents who are passive and unlikely to make large bets on later rounds that test you. If you are adept at playing the large betting rounds, and your opponents aren’t, then you want to build the pot. Big pots will allow you to leverage your late round advantage to generate a bigger winrate.
Of course, more big pots mean more variance. But none of the best no-limit players that I know shy away from a good gamble. When in doubt, bet the flop. Here are four more tips for playing the flop.
Tip 1. Pay attention to the board texture.
Board texture plays a critical factor in all hold’em hands. Too many people look at the flop and think only, “I hit the flop,” or, “I missed.” It’s just as important to consider how likely your opponents are to have hit or missed the flop and how they’ll play.
Consider a flop like 9 9 7 . If you have K Q , then you missed the flop. But think further than that. If you bet and get called, what sorts of hands could your opponent have? He could have a nine, a seven, or a pocket pair. He could also have a straight draw with a hand like J-T, T-8, J-8, and so forth. He could even have ace-high or king-high—overcards like you have. Because paired boards are harder to hit than unpaired boards, many players call on these boards with hands like unimproved overcards that they would fold on a different board type.
There’s no way to play the turn and river well without thinking about what sorts of hands your opponents could have on the flop. And your opponent will have different types of hands on different board textures. Always consider the board texture when you’re planning your flop play and beyond.