The post-flop stage is when you’ll have the opportunity to think strategically and make moves that will put you in a stronger position. But how do you go about this? Keep scrolling to learn all about the best strategy tips on post-flop poker.
WHAT IS THE POST-FLOP STAGE?
This stage comes after the second betting round in certain variants such as Texas Hold ’em.
When the post-flop stage begins, three cards are placed face up on the table for all players to use along with their hole card. Players then try to construct a decent hand out of these five cards. This is followed by betting stages, including a turn, river, and showdown.
All in all, this stage is one of the most critical parts of a poker game to both you and your opponents, as it determines who will likely end up taking home the pot. That’s why it’s so essential to understand post-flop dynamics thoroughly to become a successful poker player, as observant opponents could easily form a stronger hand in certain post-flop situations.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR HAND IN THIS STAGE?
Next, you’re going to want to dive deeper into analysing your hand. Generally, you can divide your hand into three categories: improved, the same, or draw. However, even if your hand got better, there are certain types of ‘better’ hands that are, well, even better than others.
These are usually referred to as ‘made hands’, but depending on your hand, you could have a ‘monster’ hand to play with (and knowing that is critical in post-flop play, ensuring you win the game).
How do you know if your hand got better after the flop in Texas Hold ’em? It depends on what your hand was before the flop and what the flop cards are. For example, your hand probably got worse if you had two small cards and the flop had two big cards. But your hand might have improved if you had two big cards and the flop had two small cards.
Don’t worry if you’re still a little confused. Here’s a brief breakdown of how to assess your hand.
AN IMPROVED HAND
If your hand improved after the flop in Texas Hold ’em, you could be lucky enough to have made a made hand. A made hand consists of card combinations that already make the best possible hands, such as a pair. So even if the cards on the turn and river don’t improve them any further, they still make up a winning combination for you.
In some cases, made hands can only slightly be made better, while in others, there is less of an opportunity for improvement. This is why monster hands provide more of a chance to improve. Monster hands may include a three-of-a-kind, two pair, royal flush, full house, four-of-a-kind, and straight flush. Here is how you can distinguish the level of ‘good’ hands:
- An exceptional hand: An exceptional hand may include a full house, four-of-a-kind, straight flush, and royal flush.
- A great hand: A great hand may be a set, straight and a flush.
- A good hand: A good hand may be an overpair, a top pair with a top kicker, and a two pair.
- A decent hand: A decent hand may include any pair, middle pocket pair, and a top pair with a weak kicker.
The only way you can lose is if your opponent holds an even stronger hand. Whether you hold an early position, middle position or late position may also affect your chances of earning the best hand.
Winning players often hold late positions as these offer the best advantage by allowing them to keep their opponents guessing.
THE SAME HAND
Sometimes, in Texas, Hold ’em; your hand may remain the same as it did in the pre-flop. This doesn’t mean your hand got worse; it just means that it didn’t improve at all based on the community cards that were turned over (the turn card and river card).
In this case, it’s best to analyse the board and your opponents. Do other plays have stronger or weaker hands? If you’d rather avoid betting further, just let the hand go and move on. There’s no sense in hanging onto a losing hand and hoping for a miracle. Chances are, you’re only going to lose more money if you keep the hand. You might be able to turn the tides by bluffing, but that might be the only situation in which you’d improve your chances of winning. It is recommended to not bet as much money as improved hands and sticking to a smaller bet size in cases like these.
A DRAW HAND
Draw or drawing hands are those that aren’t completed yet but have the possibility of becoming strong if the right card shows up on the board. This isn’t a bad thing, though. What’s more important to understand is that there can be both weak and strong potential draws, with the strength of a draw/drawing hand determined by how many cards could help your hand succeed.
For example, if you have a flush draw, there are nine cards left in the deck that could do so. Conversely, if you have a pocket pair, only two cards in the deck would help form a three-of-a-kind. So, even if you don’t have a complete hand after the flop, stay patient. Following some of the tips below may also help your chances.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR POST-FLOP POKER STRATEGY
Now that you’ve brushed up on your analysis skills and know how to make sense of your own Texas Hold ’em hand, it’s time to start improving your strategy while in this stage. Whether you’re new to the game or you already have your betting patterns down, here are a few tips that may help you win.
THINK ABOUT YOUR OPPONENT’S TENDENCIES
It’s important to be aware of your opponent’s actions. Knowing your opponent’s range, roughly how many chips they have, what cards they might be holding, and the potential combinations they can create with respect to the community cards is key. Additionally, watching player trends either at the table or historically can give you helpful insight in making a decision.
For instance, if a player that usually does not place big bets suddenly raises from €10 to €50, it’s likely that they have something solid and therefore calls for caution. The bottom line here, though, is that knowing your opponents is essential.
The best way to gauge this? See what kind of bet players make before the flop. If you’ve spotted a pre-flop raiser who made a high-value bet beforehand, then you can bet they have an excellent hand. Based on the flop, you’ll be able to deduce what their hand might be like now.
BE PREPARED TO DROP HANDS
We know this might sound counterintuitive, but it’s important to be prepared to drop good hands. When you’re in a raising seat (small or big blind), it’s important to consider the strength of your hand as well as any action made by your opponents.
If you have a good hand but are facing multiple bets from your opponents, the best course of action may be to let your hand go and save money rather than risk losing too much money on a single pot. Having a good seat at the table is advantageous, but it doesn’t guarantee success — sometimes discretion is the better part of valour when up against strong competition.
GIVE YOUR OPPONENTS THE WRONG POT ODDS
Another key tip is to give your opponents the wrong pot odds. By doing this, you give them a lower-than-normal chance to hit their draw. You give them worse than even money for hitting their hand, thereby limiting their ability and motivation to call your bet.
While it’s never certain that they have a draw, betting with this assumption always helps improve your chances of winning by either inducing a fold or by getting them to make an unprofitable call. So, give your opponents the wrong odds whenever possible, as it is your best chance at maximising winnings while minimising losses.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR SEAT
To take advantage of your position, you need to take note of play patterns to take away the pot later on. If a player who has raised pre-flop misses the flop, they usually make a single bet, and if met with any resistance, they give up.
As an observant opponent, you must take full advantage of these situations by floating one card. Recognising this tendency can give you a big edge as better players take full advantage of situations where they can afford to take the pot away on later streets by floating (making calls with weak hands).
UNDERSTAND POKER MATHEMATICS
Poker mathematics is the study of how to calculate odds. Understanding poker mathematics is important to develop a good strategy for playing Texas Hold ’em. This is because the odds of winning a hand depend on the number of cards in the deck, the number of players, and the type of hand you are holding. Of course, your odds will be a lot better if you’re holding a straight flush than a full house or a two pair.
By understanding poker mathematics, you can calculate the chances of winning a hand and make better decisions about when to bet, call, or fold. For example, if you know that there’s a probability of 4% that your opponent has a flush, you can decide whether or not to continue betting. This knowledge can give you an edge over other players. That said, poker math is not always easy, but some simple concepts can help you make better decisions at the table.
For example, pot odds are an important part of post-flop play. Pot odds refer to the pot size compared to the amount of money you need to call a bet. Remember, the size of the pot often determine whether you face a small bet size or a large one as standard bet sizes fall between a half pot bet and a full pot bet.
If the pot odds are high, it means it is usually worth calling a bet. If the pot odds are low, it might be better to fold your hand.
Another concept worth understanding is expected value. This refers to the average amount of money you can expect to win or lose on a particular hand. If you have a hand with a high-expected value, it is recommended that you play it. If you have a hand with a low expected value, you might want to fold it.
Mathematics can be complex, but if you take the time to understand some of the basic concepts, it can give you an edge at a table and may help you form the best hand in the round.
WET BOARD VS. DRY BOARD
Aside from understanding the basics of poker mathematics, it’s helpful to also learn how to analyse your hand and the board. First, let’s talk about the board. You’re going to start by first looking at the type of hands on the flop while trying to analyse if there are any possible drawing hands.
It helps to understand that post-flop play in Texas Hold ’em is placing a continuation bet (also known as a c-bet) from post-flop and beyond. You may hear terms like ‘wet board’ and ‘dry board’, but these terms aren’t referring to different board textures. Generally, a wet board indicates a lot of possibility for a wide range of hands, whereas dry boards indicate fewer chances for different hands.
For example, if post-flop action suggests three hearts on the flop, then the board could be considered wet because there are many possible hands with at least one heart. On the other hand, if post-flop action reveals just two diamonds on the flop, then the board would be considered dry because there are only so many hands with at least one diamond.
Knowledgeable players will adjust their strategies according to how wet or dry they think the post-flop board is. If you’re not sure where to get started, take a look at these examples:
- Straight possibilities: If you face gutshot draws (an inside straight draw needing one more card) or other straight draw possibilities, it’s important to consider the player count, and stack size as these factors have varying effects on post-flop strategy.
- Flush possibilities: A flush is a strong hand. If you’ve seen four cards of the same suit during post-flop play, it is important to ask yourself if there might be a better player out there who could have made a flush. That way, you can determine whether or not it makes sense for you to hold the hand.
DON’T GET TOO CONFIDENT
It’s important not to get too confident during this betting stage because it can lead to making riskier decisions than you usually do. When you become too confident, you stop paying attention to the other players and what cards they may have. This puts you at a disadvantage and can cause you to lose your hand and all your chips — and this can happen even if some of your opponents fold. So, keep a level head, stay focused, and be smart about your moves.
AVOID BLUFFING IN CALLING SITUATIONS
Bluffing is a big part of playing poker and can be highly effective in the right situations. However, it’s important to avoid bluffing into calling situations. Players who may be desperate to make a hand will call down, even with weak hands. This kind of behaviour is typical of recreational players, and if you try to bluff them, you’ll likely end up losing chips for nothing.
While aggression is good in poker overall, you should be careful when up against calling situations. Pay attention to their tell-tale signs and avoid bluffing into them as much as possible.
APPLY PRESSURE ON DIFFICULT BOARDS
Putting pressure on difficult boards is a great strategy to apply due to its effectiveness. Most players who play recreationally aren’t very adept at deciphering what range of cards you might have, so when you apply pressure on a board, it forces them to make an uncomfortable decision.
This is especially true if you’re defending the big blind against someone perceived as tight. If that’s the case, check-raising on middling or connected flops can be highly beneficial.
The best part? You don’t even have to have a strong hand for this strategy to work; having any kind of equity helps immensely. Following up with a bet on the turn capitalises on this advantage further and will put your opponent in a state of unrest.
LEARN ABOUT MULTI-WAY POTS
Multi-way pots are those in which three or more players call the flop, and they can often be trickier to navigate than heads-up pots. It’s important to navigate multi-way pots well to maximise profits. Where should you start here? It’s beneficial to know the following:
- The tendencies of your opponents.
- If the pot has been raised before you or how it was opened.
- What kind of flop will give players good equity.
- Which hands are worth betting out multi-way.
By understanding a multi-way strategy, you can increase your chances of winning significantly while at the table against recreational players. Multi-way pots become even more strategic when having multiple opponents who might be calling raises or cold-calling preflop.
All in all, though, mastering multi-way strategies brings another level of skill and knowledge that can help separate long-term, profitable poker players from “hopers” that rely on luck alone.
PLAY WISELY ON THE TURN AND RIVER
Knowing when to play more conservatively and when to play aggressively can make all the difference. On the turn, it’s important to consider the probability of your opponents having made their hand, as well as how much they probably have in their stack if they haven’t made any previous bets.
You’ll also want to play according to the board texture (recall the wet board vs dry board tip from above). This includes gauging whether or not your hand has high pot odds or if it’s likely that you will be a better kicker than your opponent.
On the river, many players tend to play more aggressively, but be careful with this. In many situations, being more passive may be more profitable in terms of your ability to accumulate more chips on the river.
All in all, it’s important to remember to observe what hand your opponents are likely to make and adjust accordingly. By doing this, players can play the turn and river in a way that maximizes their potential winnings at all times.
KNOW YOUR POSITION
Being on the button in Texas Hold ’em during this stage is a great advantage. It means that you will be the last to act on future streets, allowing you to make informed and thought-out decisions.
Being on the button also gives you information on other players’ actions and allows you to plan out your strategy for each betting round accordingly. You can use this information to set yourself up optimally on both turn and river streets, making your on-the-button decision stronger and more likely to win a big pot.
The worst position is the small blind, where you know the least amount of information when it’s time to act, and you must go first. Pay attention at all times to know how many other players remain at the table, and use that knowledge to know your position. Ultimately, this can help you plan more effectively and size your bets correctly, too.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
As a general rule, forming a good strategy is all about expecting the unexpected. While it’s easy enough to plan and strategise, that all changes when you hit the flop. An infinite number of possibilities can happen when you receive your new cards. Your opponent could flop hard, raise, draw an excellent hand or change their own strategy that’ll be totally different from their previous action. It’s important to expect anything and prepare for all contingencies.
By anticipating the different possibilities and preparing accordingly, you increase your chances of winning a hand or avoiding disaster. Expecting the unexpected will make you a better poker player in the long run. There’s always something unexpected that happens whether you’re playing at a casino or are playing poker online at a live casino.
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The bottom line? By studying post-flop strategies, you can better leverage your position and take advantage of your opponents’ mistakes. Watch how the big blind calls, how the small blind calls, if they hold a free card, analyse the pot size, how flop textures come into play, and more.
Are you ready to start practising everything you’ve learned in this guide and work towards improving your post-flop strategy? Energy Casino offers a variety of online poker rooms for you to choose from, so you’ll surely find the perfect game for you!