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Texas Hold’em Strategy

Flop, Turn, and River Strategy

Hold'em Strategy - Flop, Turn, River

1. Playing the Flop

As mentioned before, the flop is a defining point in a poker hand. On the flop you get to see 71 percent of your hand for the cost of one round of betting. Because of this, you should fold your hand if one of three things isn’t true.

  • You hold a big pair before the flop
  • The Flop improves your hand
  • The Flop offers a draw to a rewarding straight or flush.

Most of the Time you wont like the flop, but in some rare instances, your worries wont be if you’ll lose, but rather how to get the most money out of opponents. Here is a list of a wide range of Flop situations.

Dangerous Flops

Bad Kicker: You may flop the top pair, but your hand is only as strong as your kicker. Be extra cautious with this type of hand.

Suited flop: Its especially dangerous when all the cards are suited or sequenced, like 9-8-7. Even if you have a set you may be up against someone who has already made a straight or flush. The only way for you to win would be for the board to pair. Use discretion with top pair, two pair, or even a set in this instance.

Pretty Good Flops

Two Pair: If you flop two pair you are usually in pretty good shape, especially if it is top two pair. Unless it appears obvious that you’ve been beaten you should stay with this hand.

Top Pair: A ton of Holdem pots are won with the top pair on board. If it appears to be a safe board, your main concern is discerning whether your kicker is bigger than your opponents.

Over pair: If the board is 9 6 3, and you’re holding J J, you have what is called an over pair. This simply means that you have a pocket pair greater than the highest card on the flop. This is usually a hand to consider raising with to push out someone with possibly 8-7 or 5-4. Your main worry in this situation is that someone has a higher pocket pair or a set.

Flops You’ll Like

Set with a safe board: Lets say you hold 9 9 and the flop is 9 K 3. You’ve flopped a set or a three of a kind. In this situation there’s not much to worry about because the board is safe. There’s not much of a straight draw, and anyone holding a king is in big trouble.

Trips: If you have K 10 and the flop is 10 9 10, you’ve got trips. The only thing that you really have to worry about in this situation is someone having 9-10 and making a full house. Of course, that won’t happen very frequently. You should bet and raise as long as the board isn’t intimidating.

Flops You’ll Love

Straight Flush: There’s hardly any chance you will lose this hand. This hand is especially great when an opponent is holding two suited cards that match your straight flush. They’re in big trouble.

Four-of-a-kind: It is very unlikely you will loose with this hand. The only way is if there are two pair on board and you form quads with the smaller two pair, or a straight flush. You’ll seldom if ever lose with this hand.

Full House: This is a great hand, especially if the board reads something like 8 A A and you are holding 8 8. The only thing you have to worry about is someone having A-8 which isn’t likely but possible. Most of the time, someone with an Ace will hold something other than an 8 and you will probably take all there money.

Nut Flush: If you have an Ace-high flush after all the cards come out, and there is no pair on the board, eliminating the possibility of a full house, or four of a kind, you’ve got the best hand. Bet, raise, or go all in.

Nut Straight: If you have the highest possible straight, and there’s no possibility of a flush or full house, you’ve got the best hand. Bet and raise all you got.

Tips for winning play on the flop

  • The flop defines your hand. If the flop misses your hand, you should most likely release it.
  • When You flop a big hand, avoid allowing an opponent draw a card to beat you. You may be able to trap them, but if you believe they’re on the draw, force them out.
  • Be selective about hands you choose to play before and after the flop. Use caution, but be aggressive if you make a decision to play.
  • If you flop a draw, stick with it as long as the pot payoff is greater than the odds against making your hand. See pot odds.


2. Playing the Turn

The turn is the fourth community card that comes after the flop. A majority of the time you won’t even see the turn. You’ll throw away many hands pre-flop and release others when you find that the flop misses your hand. A poor player will diminish his chip stack one bet at a time. While a single bet may not seem like much in the long haul, it will break you.

If, you’ve made it to the turn, you should have a strong hand, a draw potentially leading to a strong hand, or reason to believe you can take the pot with a bluff.

Tips to improve your play on the Turn.

  • If you’re sure you have the best hand, bet or check with intentions of re-raising to keep opponents from getting free inexpensive cards to make their draw. Betting is usually the best option unless you know that your opponent will bet and you can re-raise him.
  • If your chasing an open ended straight draw or flush draw and the board is paired, be cautious of a player having a full house. If there is a bet and a raise in front of you, you should consider releasing your hand. Chances are you may not make your straight or flush, or you could make it, but take a bad beat with a full house.
  • If you’re chasing a straight or flush, try to make your hand as inexpensively as you possibly can. You would usually do this by checking and calling.
  • Betting gives you more ways to win. If you have a hand you would call with betting – rather than simply calling – may cause your opponent to fold.

3. Playing the River

If you’ve made it to the river you believe that you may have the best hand. From this point all of the potential value of your hand is turned into realized value. You can no longer improve your hand, It’s time to force out, fold, or showdown.

Tips For Smart River Play

  • All your decisions on whether to bet, fold, call, raise, or re-raise are based on the realized value of your hand from this point
  • If you’ve made two pair it will usually win unless the river brings a third suited card. If a third suited card comes out be extra cautious because you now may have a flush threat against you.
  • If its heads up and there is a large pot, it’s better to call with the worst hand than to fold the winning hand.