Fear of raising preflop #2; playing the flop

by ~ December 6th, 2007. Filed under: Basics of poker, Fear of raising series, General poker strategy, Philosophy and approach, Poker aggression.


* Modified June 15th, 2010 *

So, you’ve raised, but got callers. If you hit the flop, then value bet/price out any draws.

  • Slow play only rare monsters (set of QQQ)
  • Watch out if you hit 2 pair with connectors, because that means someone else likely has at least a draw if not a made straight (KQ on KQT flop)
  • Bet enough to give players that might have flush draws or straight draws the wrong odds to chase.

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If you get bet into, raised, or check-raised, you have to figure out what that action means.

  • Is it a tiny bet OOP, meaning a blocking bet, trying to prevent you from pricing them out of chasing their draw?
  • Is it a decent sized bet OOP, implying they’ve hit a hand? This is somewhat odd as a more standard play would be to check-raise. This bet, or a raise or check-raise, might mean:
    • they have a hand, and you have to evaluate the board and your hand to see if it’s likely that you’re ahead or behind.
    • They have a draw and are semi-bluffing, trying to either
      • take the hand down now, or
      • take control of the hand hoping for free cards, or
      • to disguise their hand when the draw fills.
    • They have nothing, or weak/distant draws and are testing you to see if you have something or not.

This is where reads are important to help you estimate which of the above scenarios most likely describes your situation.

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If you missed the flop, then what? If I’ve got only one other person still in, I’ll need a reason not to c-bet. If the flop is ugly, say JT8, where the flop might have hit all kinds of calling hands, check/fold might be the play. Similarly, if I’ve got TT and the flop comes AJ6, I also might not c-bet because I’m now behind anyone with an A or J.

However, if I’ve got TT and the flop is K93, I will bet. The chance that the K hit my opponent is slim and if it didn’t, he hasn’t got much reason to stay around since I’m the one representing a big hand. I think this is the point that many people have problems with JJ; they see an overcard on the flop, and immediately go into check/fold mode.

A secret: for me JJ and AK are interchangeable. If the flop is low and I have AK, I tell myself I really have JJ and bet accordingly. If I have JJ and an A or K hits the flop, I tell myself that I really have AK and bet accordingly. This helps me to make use of the preflop aggression that I’ve shown and to bet convincingly at the flop. If I get called, I’ll drop the pretense and play my actual cards.

Against one opponent, I’m betting the flop around 80% of the time when I raised preflop.

One caveat: When I raise, I assume, probably too often, that my opponents are reasonable players calling with reasonable hands. That eliminates crap hands from the possibility of what they are holding, and sometimes I’m surprised by what I’ve been called with.

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If I’ve got more than one caller and I’ve missed the flop, normally I’m inclined to check and hope that I get to see what the turn brings. This depends on 1) my position at the table relative to everyone else and 2) my reads on the opponents. I’ll often c-bet anyways into two opponents (sometimes unintentionally as on more than one occasion I have failed to notice that my preflop raise was called by two players and not just one!). Sometimes a strong c-bet will take it down anyways, especially if the flop is no help to anyone (ie. a 222 flop that occurred last night; I held AQ, BB checked, I c-bet almost full pot, late position caller and BB folded).

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If I miss the flop and the opponent bets at it or check-raises my c-bet, in most cases I will fold. In a few situations I will 1) check-raise if I’m OOP, 2) re-raise, or 3) call, with the intention of betting/raising the turn no matter what card comes. But these plays really require an opponent who is capable of folding. Don’t be aggressive against calling stations without a made hand!

A variation to keep in mind is to c-bet the turn; check the missed flop, bet the turn no matter what card comes. I don’t know how many players at my current levels would conceive of such a concept, so I don’t know that I should need to look out for this move being used against me.

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The full series

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Compendium of instructional posts:

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1 Response to Fear of raising preflop #2; playing the flop

  1. Vincent

    Nice blog! More people should read it. If you want, you can register your blog http://www.pokerweblogs.com. It is free and and it automatically updates when you do an update, so visitors of our site can see when you updated your blog. The big advantage is that it will attract much more visitors to your blog.

    Greets Vincent

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