Poker Tactics After the Flop
After the flop, you know five of the seven cards that will form your hand.
Because three of these five are community cards, the person holding the best hand after the flop is a heavy favorite to win.
It is much harder to out-draw someone in Poker Hold'em than in other forms of poker. The cards that follow the flop may improve your hand, but often they will improve the strongest hand even more.
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After The Flop
Immediately after the flop, the questions you should ask are:
Answering these questions requires the skill of "reading the flop".
Consider the following categories of flops:
Flops with scare cards (Aces and face cards).
A face card is King, Queen, or Jack. Because people play Aces and face cards in Hold'em, a flop with these cards usually means someone has at least one pair. Therefore the term "scare" card, when an Ace or face card appears on the board.
A person who raised before the flop might well have a big pair or Ace-face in the pocket. After a flop with scare cards, that player might have trips or two pair. To continue playing after such a flop, you should have at least the top pair and a high kicker. For example, with a flop of Q, J, 7, you should hold a Queen with another Ace or face card to keep playing.
Flops with garbage cards.
A flop with low cards is less likely to have paired someone. When the flop is 2♣ 5♥ 7♦, people holding high pairs and high cards in the pocket have a great advantage since it is unlikely the flop has helped anyone. Beware, though, of players in the blind who have not called a raise to see the flop. The blind's two cards could be anything since at this point the blind is not in the hand by choice. If a blind gets excited by a flop of little cards, their hand could be two pair or better. Don't underestimate their strength.
Flops with pairs
To win when this type of flop appears, you usually need to form another pair higher than the one on the board. If the flop is 10♥ 10♣ 3♠, and you hold A♣ 3♣, your two pair is not going to win without improvement. You need to pair your Ace. Everyone has a pair of tens so anyone with another pair higher than your threes beats you. Also, anytime there is a pair on the flop, it is possible for someone to have a full house. This becomes more likely when there are high cards on the board. A flop of Q♣ Q4 J♥ is more likely to have made a full house for someone than 5♣ 5♥ 8♦.
Contain matched suits and cards in (or close to) sequence. This type of flop allows for the creation of straights and flushes. Learn to recognize when they're present and when they're not. Any flop containing two cards of the same suit will attract players holding two cards of that suit since they have a 33% chance of making the flush by the end. Flops with connected cards attract people looking to draw to a straight.
Flops that allow pat hands
Flops such as three of the same suit or three connected cards, should not to be played against unless you can make the flush or the high end of the straight. If there is substantial betting and raising, someone already has the hand or a good draw, and you should fold.
These flops allow the formation of a variety of monster hands. Consider K♦ K♠ Q♦. If many players are holding face cards, many monster hands could result from later cards. An Ace-high or King-high straight, Diamond flush, Kings-full, Queens-full, even a royal flush could occur in this case. If you are holding Q♠ J♣ , and there is substantial betting, get out. Your two pair has little chance of improving and many ways to 10se.
With practice and observation, you will learn to read flops and to judge the kinds of hands your opponents are playing.
Consider these scenarios:
Scenario 3- You hold A♦ Q♥ and are in a late position. The flop is Q♣ 7♦ 3♠ and the action is checked around the table to you. You are hesitant to bet since you only have a pair of Queens.
Your pair of Queens with an Ace kicker is probably the best hand at this point and should be bet. Additional cards stand a better chance of improving your hand more than your opponents' hands. For example, if an Ace appears, an opponent holding A. K has a pair of Aces, but you'll have Aces and Queens. Another Queen gives you trip-Queens. If a 7 appears, an opponent holding a pair of Jacks has Jacks and 7's, but you still win with Queen's and 7's. There are ways for you to 10se: someone might have a pair of 7's in the pocket, but they would have bet them ahead of you. Most likely you have the best hand, and you should bet accordingly.
Scenario 4- You hold 6♦ 7♦ and are in a late position. You and six other players are competing for the pot. The flop comes 84 9♠ 10♥. There is a bet ahead of you, a raise, and someone calls that raise. Excited about your straight, you call the raise.
You should have folded. With this many players betting and raising, someone already has a higher straight (like a Jack, Queen), and the players that call are on a flush draw or holding King - Queen and hoping for a Jack on the board to make a King-high straight. Your hand is already second best and can never improve. Remember that people play the high cards in Hold'em. Time to get out.
Summary of Post-flop Play
Unless you have the best hand, or a draw to the best hand, you should not invest additional money after the flop.
Knowing when a mediocre hand is the best and should be bet, and knowing when a strong hand is second best and needs to be folded, is the hallmark of a good poker player.
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