Flop Poker Strategy Guide

Flop Poker Strategy Introduction

It’s where Texas Hold’em starts to come alive isn’t it? Pre-flop hand selection is all well and good but what you make when the flop comes is when action develops. It’s where you can start to get a feel for your opponent’s likely ranges, deciding whether you want to continue and assessing the texture to determine whether a bluff might work.  This article will look at the key factors of playing the flop that will help shape your decision making when playing flop poker in Texas Hold’em.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a flop in poker?

The flop is the first 3 community cards that are dealt face up. Players use them with their hole cards to make a 5 card poker hand. Check out our poker cheat sheet for more information.

Texture

There are so many possible flop textures to list but we can condense this to 3 types; dry, wet and mixed flops. Dry flops are very disconnected with no potentials for straights or flushes. A wet board is draw heavy or already presents potential for straight and/or flush. Finally, a mixed board is somewhere in the middle, with possible draws but not both. The texture of the flop should be a heavy consideration when choosing how much money to invest in your hand. It’s complex isn’t it? Texas Hold’em is not a simple game to play, if you want simplicity, try 3 card poker instead.

Example:
Pocket aces (Ac-Ad) look great but are very vulnerable on a board like 7h 8h 9h. Contrast this to a board of Kc 2s 2d and you can start to appreciate the importance of relative hand strength.

How good is your hand on the flop?

A basic question but one that must be asked. How good is your hand when you’ve got to the flop? Do you have a top pair? Only have 2 overcards? Are you on a flush draw? Your hand value can be converted to represent the following groups.

Hand Type Strength Decision Making
2 Pair or betterExceptionalYou’re in it for the long haul. Strap yourself in and bet lots.
Over-cards and a straight or flush drawVery strongThis hand is has fantastic equity against most hands and should rarely ever be folded on the flop. You’re never in bad shape and actually a favourite against top pair hands.
Top pairRelatively strong Top pair is a good hand but consider texture and number of opponents. You will often stick around past the flop but tread careful.
Straight/Flush drawAverageYou will often try to peel a turn card off but remember it’s just a draw. You generally want position and bluffing opportunities too to make these calls profitable
Second pair AverageSecond pair is often worth a flop call particularly heads up. The more players involved, the weaker the value. Keep the pot small and look for thin value if it’s checked down to river.
Bottom pair/ underpair WeakBottom pair or underpair can win heads up in small pots but very rarely when multi-way.
Overcards Very weakBeginners seem to have trouble releasing big cards even they miss. If you have no draws and just 2 big cards, get out of the way, you have nothing and are beat by a pair of 2s.

Flop Poker Tips

If you are new to poker and want some tips on flop poker. The list below is a basic overview of what to do when you get to the flop.

  • Miss the flop – get out the pot
  • Top pair is good but remember your kicker. The second card may be beat by your opponent
  • If top pair is a low card, you can still be beat by overpairs
  • Flush or straight draws are at best 36% chance to hit by the river. If your opponent is trying to force a big pot or get you all in, you should fold
  • If you raised pre-flop and are heads up – bet most flops. Check out our article on continuation betting for more detailed tips

Small hand, small pot. Big hand, big pot. Remember this and you won’t go far wrong at low stakes

Pocket Jacks – Tips for Beginners

Pocket Jacks

It has to be the hand players complain the most about. I’ve had many discussions with players over pocket jacks. They’ve ranged from questioning whether they should be folded to a 4 bet to should they be played for set value only. Many players seem to have a phobia about pocket jacks. I think a lot of it stems from players stubbornness, an unwillingness to fold strong hands. This causes them to lose more than they should with a strong, but very beatable hand. This article will cover everything a beginner needs to know about a pair of fish hooks in Texas Hold’em.

Pocket Jacks Odds

Over-card will flop57%
Ahead of smaller pairs80%
Chance of beating a higher pocket pair19%
Beating a random hand77%
Against two over-cards52%

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

How Often Will I be Dealt Jacks?

You can expect to be dealt pocket jacks approximately 0.45% of the time or 1 in 221 hands.

Why Do People Hate Pocket Jacks?

Players like poker to be simple, straightforward and easy. Sadly, this is rarely the case, particularly when you hold pocket jacks. People don’t like being in awkward situations and have tough decision. That’s logical isn’t it? Do you want easier decisions or tough ones? It’s a no brainer. When you’re holding a pair of jacks, a higher card will flop over ½ the time. The problem with this is that people like big cards. They are the most favourable hands to play in Texas Hold’em. Therefore, people get concerned, and rightly so to some extent, that their jacks are already beat.

Tips How to Play Pocket Jacks

Exercise caution and pot control

If you lose lots of money with jacks, try playing a bit more careful. Perhaps you’ve been overplaying them. If it’s an early position raise, perhaps just flat call and take a flop? If you’ve flopped an overpair, perhaps just flat call on the flop instead of raising? Pot control can be a fantastic thing. You can bluff catch, bet for value later and save money if you’re beat too.

Consider the information first

Context is extremely important in poker. Rather than thinking “I’ve got pocket jacks, I’m doing X”, consider who is raising, what position, how many big blinds etc. You don’t need to rush to judgement. Take your time and consider the facts before making a rash decision.

Don’t worry about folding

If a dreaded over-card comes and you’re facing lots of aggression or been check raised, don’t be scared to fold. You are the only one that knows your cards. By the same token, if you’ve 3 bet a tight player and he’s jammed a deep stack, don’t be scared to fold just because you have a relatively big pair.

Conclusion

Pocket jacks is a strong hand in Texas Hold’em. There are only 3 higher pocket pairs so you rate to have the best hand before the flop most of the time you get them. Obviously, you need to be wary in a full ring, deep stacked game, but jacks should win you money in the long run. If you’re losing with this hand over a lot of hands, you need to reassess how you are playing them. We offer a hand history review service that can help you? You can book a session for £90. We’d be happy to look at this with you. Just email info@texasholdemquestions.com.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you would like to read our articles on pocket kings and big slick.

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Nit Poker is Losing Poker

What is a Nit in poker?

First of all, lets understand what nit poker is. A nit is a negative word that describes the tightest and most risk averse poker players around. It’s a term that can be heard in poker rooms all over the world, when a player loses action or folds a big hand and derides the opponent by calling him a nit. We know a real nit is an insect that can be found on children’s heads. They are itchy, irritating and suck the blood out of the head. I am not sure why this was twinned with the most prudent of poker players, nevertheless, this is what they are.

Nits Are Predictable

A nit is very easy to play against for several reasons. You know they won’t be bluffing; you know they only play a small range of hands and you know they won’t gamble. Poker is a game of missing information, with a nit, by process of elimination, you have a lot of information already. They play their range of hands and they play them the same way most of the time. If you are playing predictably, you are making it easier for your opponents. This is contrary to what you are trying to achieve, you want to be difficult to read, to enforce errors from your opponents.

Nits Miss Out on Value

Due to the cautious nature of a nit, they will miss out on value a lot of the time. Even an intermediate player will be prepared to fold a strong hand if a nit is putting a lot of money in the pot. They also miss out on value by checking back hands they should be value betting or playing flop and turns cautiously when they should be betting and inflating the pot for value later.

Nit Poker
Freepik

Nits Are Restricted to Lower Stakes

A decade ago, nit poker may be enough to get you moving up the stakes. By employing a cautious style against players who are playing 10 tables and not paying attention, you could still have a decent win rate and move up stakes. This is simply not the case anymore. A nit can’t crush the mid stakes so they are restricted to the lower stakes. Everyone is better now than they were. The game is always evolving and getting tougher. It’s survival of the fittest to get to the higher stakes and the fact is, nit poker won’t cut it in today’s poker world.

Nits Are More Likely to Get Bluffed

As a nit, your range is pretty well defined before you even get to the flop. An experienced player will know the range of hands you are playing from all positions at the table. As such, on certain board textures, they will abuse a nit. In deep stacked cash games, a nit may hold Q-Q on a 5-7-8 and be forced to fold by the river if an astute player recognises that the nit is holding a one pair hand and liable to fold to big betting. The worst part is, the nit probably thinks they have made a good fold in this spot when they have in fact lost money.

Nits Lack Ambition

This is contentious point but I mean this from a theoretical and intellectual point of view. Anyone who wants to employ a strategy that involves playing less than 15% of hands are not very ambitious, in my humble opinion. Most strong poker players are profitable simply because they have played so many hands in different scenarios. They are able to adapt to difficult situations.

Conclusion

This article is not meant to pass judgement on nit poker. I am simply highlighting the drawbacks of the nit poker style and how it is unlikely to generate much money in 2020. There are games where nit poker will win you money and that’s fine. I am hoping to reach players out there that are keen to improve their game and understand that they can increase their earning potential and poker ability by modifying their strategy. My intention was not to upset anyone who identifies as a nit.

Are you looking to improve your game and a play wider range of hands to increase your ROI? Get in touch to see how we can help you make money in 2020.

Semi Bluff Guide & Tips

Semi Bluff Introduction

A semi bluff is a bet made on the flop or turn designed to pick up the pot immediately or improve by the river and win at showdown. It’s usually a bet made with a straight or flush draw or with two overcards to the board.

Let’s look at an example:

The blinds are 50/100 and you raise to 225 with Ts 9s and called by the big blind. The flop falls Js 8s 2c. Your opponent checks, you bet 325 and he raises to 1,100. You decide to move all in for 5,200. Your opponent folds.

Now, at this exact moment you have ten high but let’s look at the hand closer. You have an open ended straight flush draw giving you 15 likely outs to win the pot by the river or approx. 57% chance of winning hand if we assign your opponent a hand like Ace Jack offsuit. This is a perfect moment to semi bluff all in and either pick up the pot now or if you are called, win by showdown.

When to Semi Bluff

As always, position is important when semi bluffing, as is the stack sizes. It is usually a good idea to have deep stacks or sufficient fold equity when considering semi bluffing.
Trying to semi bluff out of position is not a simple as in position but it can be achieved by check raising and defining an opponent’s range. This allows you the opportunity to outright bluff later if you miss your hand. Naturally the benefit of being in position is seeing how your opponent acts before you decide to bet, this is not possible when you are first to act thus semi bluffing becomes tricky.

semi bluff

History and Context

Semi Bluffing is a tendency and behaviour habit. Weak players tend not to think about semi bluffing draws and will often call down or do crazy nonsensical bluffs. It’s important to be aware of what you have shown down in hands and think about the context of the hand and history with your opponent. Ask yourself questions below when considering semi bluffing lines in hands.

  • Do I play strong hands like this?
  • Have I semi bluffed this session and shown it down?
  • Is my opponent observant?
  • Is my opponent likely to fold here or later in the hand if I continue to bet?

Final Thoughts

Semi bluffing is another weapon in the professional’s arsenal that can be employed many times a session intuitively. If you have an aptitude for maths and observe your opponent’s closely, you too should be using the semi bluff often.

I hope you enjoyed this article on semi bluffing. Feel free to contact us at info@texasholdemquestions.com with any feedback or questions.

Check Raise – Ultimate Guide

What is a Check Raise?

A play that used to be considered bad etiquette and still is in some old casinos. The check raise is a tricky and powerful move when used effectively in poker.

It is where a player will check (representing weakness) and then re-raise a bet on the same round of betting. Let’s took a look at an example:

Example Hand

Player A raises to £10 before the flop and Player B calls from the big blind. The flop comes 7s 8s 3d. Player B checks to the initial raiser. Player A bets £15 and Player B re-raises to £50.  
Notice Player B checked, then raised the bet hence “check raise”.

Why Check Raise?

There can many reasons a player may opt for check raising. It can be designed to build the pot up for bigger bets and value later in the hand. It can also be used to represent a strong hand and in fact be bluffing. It can be used to exploit an aggressive player and it can also be used to semi bluff.

check raise
Photo by Amanda Jones @amandgraphc

Perceptions of a Check Raise

Strong PlayerWeak Player
An experienced player will usually identify strength with this move as the opponent is putting in more chips and money than necessary. Let’s face it, if a player wants to bluff to win the pot – they will usually just bet to try and steal it. I mean, why risk more than necessary right?A weak player may not read much into the play and will probably just play the strength of their own hand so if you are trying an elaborate bluff against a beginner who probably has a top pair or better, it might be worth thinking twice before barrelling off.

Risks with Check Raising

By checking to your opponent you are risking giving free cards that can beat you. It also makes it harder to bluff if you have nothing as your opponent has less streets to fold to resistance. You need to feel pretty confident your opponent will bet if you are considering a check raise.
Secondly, if you are trying a check raise on a bluff that you are investing more than a standard bet. Let’s face it, if your opponent is strong, the fact you check raised isn’t going to make much of a difference.
There is also the risk that you do this move too often, even an intermediate player will pick up on tendencies so be careful not to over use the check raise.

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