Flop Poker

Poker is a game of multiple streets, but it is often divided into two components, preflop and postflop. Preflop covers all action before any community cards are dealt, and postflop covers all action after community cards have been dealt. Postflop consists of three streets, the flop, turn, and river, but our main focus in this article will be the first of those three streets, the flop.

The flop in poker with cards and poker chips

The Flop

Pre-flop and post-flop strategies are valuable to understand when learning how to play poker. The flop is the second betting round where the three cards are dealt face-up, after the first round of betting. These three cards will dictate your hand and the rest of the round. The flop is where you discover how strong or weak your hand is, then it’s up to the player to decide on how to progress with the rest of the round, whether to fold, bet, or bluff. There are many successful pre-flop strategies, but many post-flop strategies too. We’re going to run through the various plays you should keep in mind when betting post-flop.

The Flop Results

Once the three cards are laid, you need to decide how to approach the round. There are some questions you should be asking once the first cards are laid. The first question is if the cards have improved your hand and put you in a position of power. Or, maybe the cards are no good and the best course of action would be to fold and sit out the round. The second question you should ask is if there is a straight draw. A straight draw is four of the five cards needed to make a straight, which is the hand that contains five cards of sequential rank, but not of the same suit. You should also see if you have a flush draw, which is four of the five cards needed to make a flush, which is five cards of the same suit.

The flop will also show if the board is ‘wet’ or ‘dry’. A ‘wet board’ is a flop with many possible straights, flushes, straight and flush draws, and 2 pair hands, while a ‘dry board’ is a flop that makes it difficult to connect cards and create a good hand. For example, a flop of 10 9 8 would be considered ‘wet’, while K 7  2 would be considered ‘dry’.

The Flop: Improved Hand

Once the cards are down, it’s time to see if your hand can win you the round. Here are some of the situations you could find yourself in and how to play the round.

Pair, Middle Pocket Pair, Top Pair with Low Kicker

If you’re holding on to one of these combos, you should bet out if there is no action before you. If you are called, it’s worth seeing what the card shows on the turn. If you are raised, the safest play would be to fold with these cards. However, if it’s a standard raise, then it’s worth considering calling with the top pair, but fold any of the other combos.

Overpair, Two Pair, Top Pair with Top Kicker

If you have one of these decent hands, you’re in an excellent position and holding the strong hand, so you should raise the bet. But you should raise the wrong pot odds, so go in quite strong. You don’t want to give your opponents a chance to catch you on the next card, if you slow play the round, your hand could become weaker.

Set, Straight, Flush

Should you find yourself holding one of these hands, then you’re in a fantastic position. In this situation you want to bet out in a bid to get as much money into the pot as possible, so you have a good chance of scooping a sizable pot. You could slow play the round here but it’s better to go for pot size. If you have a weak flush, you should still bet to take advantage of those looking to call with a hair card.

Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush

If you’re holding one of these hands, then you’re surely in a winning position. These hands don’t come along very often so you want to take full advantage. You should consider slow playing the round and allow other cards to come out. This is because you want to increase the pot size to its maximum potential. If you only take a small pot with a strong hand like this, then it’s almost wasteful.

The Flop: Straight or Flush Draw

Poker setting on green table

As soon as the flop is laid, you need to understand your draw possibilities, such as if a straight or a flush is possible. If you have a good chance of hitting a straight or a flush, then you want to get there as cheaply as possible. You will need to consider your chances and bet accordingly. If the raise is high, then think twice before betting again, but if there’s no raise, you’re in a great position to reach that stronger hand.

If you’re on for a straight or a flush draw, you should consider a small raise to stop your opponent from going in with anything higher, if they call your raise then you’re in a good position. Once you have reached your straight or flush, you should raise again. Obviously, you need to consider the action at the table and if an opponent could have a stronger or similar hand

Flop Strategy Tips

There’s plenty to think about when the flop comes down. First and foremost, you should always have your opponents in mind and consider what hands they could hold. This means taking note of their action on the flop and assuming your opponent has a drawing hand. You should never get attached to your good hands either; if your opponent is showing a lot of strength, then you need to let the good hands go. Furthermore, it all comes down to reading the situation and playing smart. Don’t rely on luck, as a pre-flop strategy will always work in your favor.

Give Your Opponent the Wrong Pot Odds

One thing that you should consider when making decisions on the flop is how to use conventional poker strategy against your opponents by giving them incorrect odds to call with a draw. On wet, draw-heavy flops like JcTc8s, 7s8sTh, etc., it’s better to use a large sizing with your strong hands, as it gives your opponents the wrong odds to call. 

For example, if the pot on the flop is $10, it’s perfectly fine to use a full pot sizing on draw-heavy boards. If your opponent has to call $10 into a $10 pot, they’re getting immediate odds of 2-1, meaning they have to make their hand 1 in 3 times (33%) for it to be a profitable call. However, if they have a hand like a flush draw or a straight draw, they’ll only make their hand around 20% of the time. This means that if they call, they’re making a mathematical mistake, and you’re making money with your bet.

Summary

How you play on the flop sets you up for the rest of the postflop betting rounds, so it’s important that you learn how to play this street well. If you think about both your and your opponent’s hands when considering your decision, think in terms of ranges, and follow the tips in this article, then you won’t go far wrong! Now that you’ve mastered flop play, why not check out our other articles on betting, poker ranges, pot odds, and 3betting to round out your poker knowledge, and crush your opponents at the tables?

Flop Poker FAQs