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Four Tips For Playing The Flop

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The last couple of issues I’ve been working backwards, offering four tips for playing the river and then four tips for playing the turn. This issue it’s time to talk about playing the flop.

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 :heart: 9 :spade: 7 :club: . If you have K :diamond: Q :diamond: , 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.

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6 Responses to “Four Tips For Playing The Flop”

blogging platforms
@ Thu Feb 17, 2011 05:49:08 PM

Did you pull this info from another blog? Blogging Platforms

@ Fri Feb 18, 2011 04:17:20 PM

great article, im a new blogger but not a ne player and i must admit you seem to know what your talking about. My only disagreement would be with making different size bets on different texture boards, i am a very firm believer that the best play ( to give less reads) is to never change your betting strategy, i practice it and i emplore it, i bet every hand i play exactly the same way and im very difficult to read because of that simple tactic. Im not at all disrespecting what you have to say though, your advice is solid. Good read

@ Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:23:38 AM

Playing the flop is all realitve to the competition and the reads you get on your particular table. The problem many novices don’t understand is that their are no hard and fast rules in poker or any other game of chance.

@ Tue Mar 22, 2011 09:04:32 AM

Great point on reading the texture of the flop and thinking about what your opponents might have rather than just analyzing whether you ‘hit’ or ‘missed’. Most players just tend to worry about how they hit it or what they could draw to, when if you can become good at putting your opponent on a hand, your own cards become irrelevant.

Derek Duperron
@ Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:39:28 AM

hey guys so i am 17 years old and have dreamed to be a poker legend since i was like 12. I am open and curious to all the information you have to becoming the best no-limit player in the world. I have psychic intuition, am a practicing Buddha, a sage, and i know that this will help me greatly at the table. I am pretty smart, good at math, wise, aware, and conscious, preparing myself to make a living in this field. If you have any advice or resources to make me the best i can be i would be greatly appreciative.

neutral Oberserver
@ Thu Apr 14, 2011 03:02:48 AM

@Derek Duperron
my advice: quit smoking dope and go back to school :)

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