Playing Hands On The Flop
As much as you might like them, there are no hard or fast rules for when it comes to playing hands on the flop like there are when you are playing preflop.
However, you can use this (super) guide to help you classify the strength of your hand on the flop and form the appropriate plan of action to help you make all the right moves at the table.
If your hand matches the following criteria...
- No pair.
- No draw.
Then your plan of action is going to be pretty straightforward...
- Do not bet or raise.
- Do not call bets or raises.
- Forget about trying to make any fancy plays.
- Fold unless you manage to see the turn card for free.
If you have a weak hand with no potential, there is no reason for you to continue with the hand. You may well be tempted to try and throw a bluff out there and hope for the best, but I can guarantee that this is going to be a losing play in the long run. You may get lucky once or twice, but you will be leaking money away by trying to fight with cards that are going to be as effective as spoons in battle.
You can't win every hand in poker, and if you try to do so you will be losing money. Letting hands go and saving your money is key to adding that little extra to your overall winnings at the end of the day.
It can be really tedious when you had a great hand before the flop like AK or AQ, but you should realise that the hand is going no where and prepare to throw it away when the flop doesn't fall your way, and the “outside of the box” factors (see playing the flop) aren't looking good. Save that money for when you hit a better hand on another flop.
Mediocre hands are always the hardest to play. They're even worse than useless hands, because at least with awful hands you know where you stand and what to do with them. But with a half decent hand that is right in the middle of everything, you can feel pretty lost and confused. A few examples of mediocre hands are:
- Middle pair.
- Low flush draw.
- Low straight draw.
- Top pair, weak kicker. e.g. A4.
- Top pair, good kicker. e.g. AK.
- Strong flush draw.
- Strong straight draw.
- Bottom two pair.
- Low three of a kind.
Low-end mediocre hand strategy.
With a low end mediocre hand, you will really need to err on the side of caution and play the hand as you would if it were a weak hand (as if you haven't hit anything). It's nice that you managed to get some piece of the flop, but it doesn't tie you to the hand. If you are able to see a free turn card then fantastic, but other than that, be happy to fold the hand to any action.
High-end mediocre hand strategy.
If you have a high end mediocre hand, you will need to really start considering “outside” factors in the hand, such as; your table position, how the flop might have helped your opponent and the stack sizes. This is because the actual strength of your hand is going to do very little to help you make the best decision, so you will need to rely on other important factors to determine whether it is best to play on with the hand. Also, don't forget about pot odds when you have a flush or straight draw.
If your position is good and you feel that you have a good opportunity to win money from the hand, then by all means play on. However, if it all seems pretty hazy and your position isn't great, then folding may well be the most sensible play. Practice makes perfect when it comes to deciding whether or not a hand is going to be profitable; it's not something that can be easily taught in one article!
Mediocre hands don't win big pots, so don't get too involved if there is a lot of action and the pot is getting bloated.
- Top two pair.
- A set. (3 of a kind whilst holding a pocket pair).
- High 3 of a kind
- Full House
...and so on.
Hitting a big hand on the flop in Hold'em is always going to be great fun (especially on the flop), and you probably think that you don't need any advice on how to play a big hand. However, whilst it going to be difficult to end up losing money, it is good to know how to make the most of the situation to try and extract as much money from your opponent as possible.
A fundamental rule to remember is that you do not build a big pot by checking and calling. The best way to build a pot is to bet and raise to help your opponents place as much money in the pot as possible. This means that more often than not, slowplaying and trying to be tricky with your betting just prevents you from creating a sizeable pot for you to win.
Don't fear the possibility that your opponent will fold if you bet. It's better to win big pots occasionally than tiny ones more often.
It is tempting to slowplay because of the fear of chasing your opponents out of the hand, but the majority of the time you have to remember that if your opponents are not prepared to put money in the middle on the flop, it is unlikely that they will do so on future betting rounds. You don't want to go over the top with your betting, but simply play strong poker and put money in the middle with well-sized bets.
The only time you should think about slowing down is when it is clear that you have the deck crippled, and it is impossible for any of the other players at the table to have a hand that is worth playing with.
Playing flop hands overview.
Not much of an overview here, this article is long enough. Just remember that practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to learn when you are playing poker, it's all part of the game. Refer to the flop strategy article for more help on playing the flop in Texas Hold'em.
Playing a hand.
Go back to the sublime Texas Hold'em guide.