Post flop poker strategy consists of few hard and fast rules. Many decisions are situational, and in this article we cover the steps to being a successful post-flop player.The first thing you want to do is evaluate the situation, looking at every aspect involved in the hand. You need to determine the strength of your hand and consider how the flop may have helped (or hurt) your opponents. Assess how strong or weak your hand may be and what the possibilities are of drawing a winning hand. Of course, you also must be cognizant of the stack sizes of all players at the table, as well as your position in the current hand. The more thinking and reasoning you do following the flop, the more prepared you will be for the turn and river cards yet to come. Making a decision on whether or not to continue in the hand can be very profitable or it can put a major dent in your bankroll, so its vital to establish the direction you plan to take.
One of the key elements of successful no-limit Texas Hold’em players is to think ahead what might be done or accomplished on the turn and the river. That will naturally be dependent on the cards that are to follow, but its wise to be thinking ahead to plays that may be made in future betting rounds. Its not advisable to make certain plays on the flop assuming all will be good when fourth and fifth street are flipped over. Successful flop strategy includes thinking beyond the flop.
Upon reviewing the flop, it helps to classify your hand strength as being either weak, mediocre or strong. A weak hand would contain no pairs and limited or no drawing possibilities. Your play in such a scenario is rather simple. You typically won’t be betting, raising or calling the bets of other players. You will most likely be folding unless there are no bets and you can see the turn card at no cost. Holding a weak hand that falls short of having potential is really not a hand in which you should continue tossing money into the pot. Letting the bad hands go and minimizing losses is equally as important as maximizing profits.
For instance, say you are dealt a somewhat strong, yet unmade, hand pre-flop such as or . A flop of would be no help as you have no pairs or straight and flush options. You may have the strongest hand if other players in the hand are without a pocket pair or are not holding a 7 or 10, but you would seriously have to evaluate the merits of continuing in a hand that has limited drawing possibilities. You have six outs to catch one of your overcards to hopefully make top pair, but if your opponents are betting and raising on this flop, a decision to continue and not catch one of your outs could end up costing a bundle. When the flop doesn’t materialize as you had hoped, your skills at evaluating the situation to include what your opponents may be holding is crucial. Sometimes you have to toss hands that looked promising pre-flop and save your money for the instances where the flop actually improved your hand.
In categorizing mediocre hands, its sometimes helpful to distinguish between low end and high end mediocrity. A low mediocre or marginal hand on the flop would consist of a mid-level pair, low straight or flush draws, and a top pair with a weak kicker such as . These are the most difficult hands to play. In a sense, they are worse than bad hands because you generally know where you stand with weak hands and its easier to muck them. Mediocre hands are urging you to play on with their winning possibilities, but the money you toss into the pot won’t be for value because you are quite possibly behind in the hand and dependent upon favorable draws to scoop the pot. Exercise extreme caution with marginal hands on the low end of the spectrum. Its nice that the flop hit you in some fashion, but its advisable to tend to play these hands as being weak. Don’t get tied or married to your hand. Seeing the turn card on the cheap is recommended. Don’t be afraid to fold if the betting patterns of your table rivals indicate that you may be way behind.
The high end of marginal hands would be top pair with a good kicker such as , high flush or straight possibilities, and a low two pair. Once the flop hits and you fall into this category, your thinking should immediately be to consider such factors as your position on the table, how your opponents may have been helped by the flop, and what the stack sizes are around the table. If you have eight outs for a possible high straight or nine outs for a flush and players have bet before you, its vital to calculate your pot odds when deciding whether to continue playing the hand. Position is critical in high end marginal hands. If you have a favorable late position and strong drawing possibilities, semi-bluffs are often times effective if the action in front of you is passive. Keep in mind, however, that you’re still in mediocre hand territory. Many players out of position tend to play high end mediocrity as strong hands, which can be a bankroll buster against sharp players.
A strong flopped hand would be top two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, or full house. Granted, the latter three don’t happen too frequently on the flop and often require the turn and river cards to be revealed. But hitting a big flop can be great fun and extremely profitable. Many players tend to feel that they don’t need advice in playing such hands. Just remember that big pots are not accumulated by checking and calling and trying to be tricky. Your job is to extract as much money as possible from your opponents. There will be times when slow-playing a strong flopped hand is the correct play–such as against only one other opponent in the hand who has position on you and is known to never let a round go by without betting. But for the most part, you have bean dealt a strong hand and should be betting and raising and getting the most value from your excellent hand. Don’t be worried that you might scare your opponents away by betting. Generally speaking, if your table rivals are not willing to put money into the pot on the flop, then they will also be reluctant to do so on fourth and fifth street. Don’t go overboard with your bets, but play solid poker with a good-sized bet.
Playing the flop correctly is vital to being a winning poker player. Remember to evaluate the situation and to categorize your hand once the flop is revealed. If your decision is to continue playing the hand, think ahead to how you may also play the turn and river cards as they arrive. Don’t be afraid to toss the weak and mediocre hands that tend to drain your bankroll. Your ultimate goal is to be involved in hands that give you the best chance of winning. Look for favorable position with high end mediocre hands. Bet your strong hands for value and get your opponents’ money into the pot when you have the best of it. Keep these tips in mind when playing the flop to improve your success at the poker table.