Playing the Flop in Texas Hold’em

The flop is the most important part of Texas Hold’em, since with three community cards dealt on the table, it will reveal a lot about your hand in addition to the potential hands your opponents could have. You may win or lose a lot of poker chips depending on the decisions you make at this stage because these decisions will affect the rest of the hand. A mistake you make on the flop will be compounded on the turn and so and so forth, so it’s crucial you think about your flop play. This is some advice on how you should treat some common flop situations.

When you flop straight and flush draws

This type of hand does best in multi-way pots (a pot with several players in it). Normally, you need at least two more players in the hand; otherwise these drawing hands are not profitable in the long run (it’s a matter of pot odds as well as implied odds which takes into account future betting rounds). Another important thing is to be drawing to the nuts (the best possible straight or flush) so when you do hit your draw you can be certain you have the best hand.

When you flop three of a kind

This type of hand is very strong especially when there are no straight or flush draw possibilities on the board, but the problem is it can be difficult to get worse hands to call. In these cases you might slow play your hand in order to maximize your winnings. This strategy will pay off greatly at most poker tables. However, if there are some obvious draws on the board the best tactic is to protect your hand by betting/raising/re-raising.

When you flop two pair

It’s hard to flop two pair, but when you do, you want to make sure you play it properly. Two pair hands, although they are strong hands in texas hold’em, they’re still vulnerable, so the best idea is to bet them strongly.

Slow playing can be very risky with this type of hand. If another player bets before it’s your turn to act you should re-raise. In these situations you have to watch out for strong drawing hands. Two pair is a tough hand to fold, but if you’re certain that someone has you beat you have to let it go. If you’re not sure where you stand you can slow down and just call all the way to the end of the hand.

When you flop top pair

If you flop top pair with a strong kicker you have a really good position. However, you should make sure to bet in situations when you flop a top pair hand, especially when your hand is vulnerable and cards on the turn could potentially turn your hand into the second best hand, so you. You want to force the players who missed to flop out of the hand and get them to pay to draw to a better hand.

As mentioned, top pair is a strong hand, but it’s normally not strong enough to slow play. If you allow players to stay in the hand cheaply you run the risk of being out drawn; by a two pair, a set, a straight, or a flush. If you bet with your top pair and there is a lot of raising, you have to be very careful. If you think someone has a stronger hand you should obviously fold.

Missing The Flop

When you miss the flop, which is going to happen most of the time, it’s generally wise to fold if another player bets. The exception is of course is if you were the pre-flop raiser and preferably it’s a heads up pot. In situations like this, a continuation bet even when you miss, will work a lot of the time, since your opponent has probably missed as well.

For example, if you’re holding K-Q which you opened from UTG, and got a caller from the player on the BTN whose range you’d expect to be fairly wide. The flop comes down A-2-7 so you completely miss but so did your opponent more than likely. A continuation bet on the flop will pick up the pot very often, because if the other player doesn’t have an Ace in his hand it’s going to be hard for him to call.

When all is said and done, novice players would be advised to have tighter starting hand requirements, as this will ensure they will have easier decisions to make on the flop. By playing premium hands, when you hit on the flop, you will make a strong hand that plays itself. Just make sure you play your strong flopped hands correctly, and don’t look to slow play often, as you want to bloat the pot to extract more chips from your opponents.