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Continuing with our Basic Texas Holdem Strategy: Basic Strategy Article, we bring you the Basic Post Flop Strategy in detail.
Post Flop is a major turning point in the game. Here you will decide whether to continue with a hand based on the following. Most important of all to evaluate first is How big is the pot?
Then consider the importance of the following based on that factor
*Did the flop improved your hand?
*Do I likely have the best hand?
*Does the flop give you some kind of a draw?
*How many players saw the flop?
*Who are they?
*Who if anyone raised preflop?
If the pot is big I would not need the strongest draw or hand in the world to continue.
If the pot is small I better have something good to continue.
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How to play after the flop
In principle, you differentiate between the hands with which you raised before the flop, and those with which you didn’t. In the first case, you are the aggressor – one could also say that you have the initiative. This means you have a clear advantage as you will often put your opponent to a decision and don’t necessarily need a strong hand every time.
How to play after you raised before the flop
If you are the so-called aggressor in the betting round, you have the advantage of being able to represent a strong hand.
Play strong with a top pair or better
In general, you want to have a good made hand, like top pair or better, after the flop. A top pair is a pair with one of your two hole cards and the highest community card.
An overpair is even better – it’s a made pair on your hand that’s higher than any community card.
Two pair, three of a kind, straights, flushes and better are also hands you want to play strong with.
These are the kind of hands you want to exert pressure with and, possibly, get all-in with. Of course, you shouldn’t do this in all cases. If the community cards develop unfavorably and your opponent credibly represents a hand that beats yours, still wanting to go all-in no matter what would equate to burning your money.
Don’t play draws
It’s a different case for so-called draws, which are unmade hands that need another good card on the turn or the river to turn into a strong hand like a flush or a straight.
You shouldn’t play these kinds of hands in the early or middle phases. This might appear counter-intuitive at first, but starts to make sense when you remind yourself that a lost chip in a tournament is worth more than a chip you win.
A lot of beginners have a hard time letting go of a flush draw, which has a pretty good chance of becoming a flush. Don’t fall for that trap. Especially in the early phase of a tournament, investing a lot of chips into one of these hands can be a deadly mistake, even if it would make perfect sense when playing a cash game.
Investing chips with a hand that is not yet a good pair or better is a bad idea that only rarely pays off.
When to bluff
If you raised before the flop, one could say you’re entitled to a bluff, the so-called continuation bet. Whenever you didn’t hit a top pair or better on the flop, but are up against a single opponent, you should still bet.
At the same time, if you’re up against a single opponent who checks, you can also bluff. If it doesn’t work out and he doesn’t fold his hand, you just give up your bluff.
In cases where you have more than one opponent, it doesn’t pay to make a continuation bet anymore, though. The probability of a bluff succeeding and of all your opponents to give up decreases dramatically.
How to play if you didn’t raise before the flop
Play strong with two pair or better
If you didn’t raise before the flop, the relative strength of your hands somewhat shifts. You should now have at least two pair in order to play strongly after the flop. You should give up on hands worse than that, especially against several opponents.
This might seem counter-intuitive again, especially when you happen to throw away a small overpair, but as we have already repeated so often, tournaments are played differently to “normal” poker.
Don’t play draws
As we have seen for the case where you’re aggressor, you shouldn’t play draws – hands that can improve into a flush or a straight.
What might be correct in a cash game can easily be wrong or even a disastrous mistake in a tournament. This is true in particular for draws. The chips you can possibly win are worth a lot less than the chips you risk.
When to bluff
If you weren’t the aggressor, you shouldn’t be bluffing either. You can sometimes consider it when you’re up against a single opponent that has to play before you, he checks and if the community cards don’t seem to have helped any hands.
In general, bluffs bring you into such marginal situations, however, that you would do better avoiding them completely. Players have a hard time letting go of all kinds of random hands, especially on the lower limits. A good strategy to counter this would logically be to wait until you hit a good hand, then play it strong.
How big do you bet or raise?
If you bet, you usually try to make it around 2/3 the size of the pot. If someone has bet before you and you want to raise, you should raise to 3 times his bet. The more players that have called a bet, the higher your raise should be, preferably adding another size of the bet to the size of your raise per calling player.
If you have to put more than half of your chips in the pot, however, you can just go all-in right away. You will not be able to get away from your cards later anyway, as the pot is simply too big by then.
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