How to Analyse the Flop in Texas Holdem Poker

Poker Flop AnalysisIn today’s poker world, you need to be better than ever to succeed. The games are getting tougher every day and a good player needs to find ways to stay one step ahead of the competition.

In the early days of poker, having a simple foundation and playing an “ABC” style was all you needed to make a decent living. Those days are long gone and you need to develop more techniques to adjust to the style of play today.

Most players have a sensible way of playing pre-flop and not much is to be made by out playing opponents in this stage of a hand. It’s uncommon to find players getting the money in with weak hands before the flop like they used to.

This means you need to start developing your post flop skills to start making more money. A good player these days will look to out play their opponents on the flop and later streets using the knowledge and skills they have acquired. While the gap in pre-flop advantages has dwindled, there is still a wide margin between the good and average players when it comes to post flop play.

So lets take a look at 4 elements that you need to consider when analysing the flop in Texas Holdem.

1. Flop Texture

The term “Flop Texture” is one you will hear often in Texas Hold Em.

The Flop Texture is a term used to describe what kind of flop you are currently facing. What possibilities has it thrown up, does it have potential flush or straight draws, is it likely to hit your opponents hand etc.

When reading flop texture, you need to consider what makes a scary flop and a safe flop.

Scary Flop Texture

A scary flop would have cards that give your opponents a potential straight, flush or a draw of some kind. A good example of a scary flop would be: A-K-Q with 2 hearts.

There are tons of draws on this flop and it will be one that you run into quite a bit. Your opponents may have already hit a straight with J-10 or have either card to give them a potential draw to a straight. They may have hearts in their hand to give them a heart flush, or again a draw to a flush, or they may have high cards that have connected with the high cards on the flop to make one or two pair. All in all, lots of possibilities make this a scary flop.

Safe Flop Texture

A safe flop will have very little in the way of draws and be unlikely to have hit your opponent’s hand.

An example of a safe flop would be: Q-2-5 all different suits.

This is a relatively safe flop as it doesn’t contain any draws, other than a possible straight draw if someone is holding 4-3 which is unlikely if you are playing in a pot that was raised before the flop.

2. Has my Opponent hit the Flop?

When analysing the flop texture, you need to be aware of what player you are facing. Are they loose, tight, what position did they raise or call from and so on? All these factors will play a big role in determining whether or not a flop texture will be safe or not in relation to your particular opponent.

If a player raises from the button, they will likely be playing with a wider range of hands then from earlier positions based on the position concept. This means the cards they will have will be not as strong on the whole. A flop such as A-K-5 with 2 hearts may look scary at first glance, but if we take into account where the raise came from, it will slowly start to look more like a good flop for us.

Given the fact that a player is going to have a much wider range from the button, this flop is unlikely to have hit their range. Therefore, this flop will also look scary to our opponent a large percentage of the time, and we can take advantage of that.

Now, if we change the position of the raise from the button to under the gun (first position after the dealer button), this flop is likely to fall right into their range and be a very good flop for them. If we had a hand such as: pocket Jacks on a flop of A-K-5, we could safely fold to a flop bet from a player who raises under the gun pre-flop.

If we were playing the same pocket Jacks against a button raise on this type of flop, we may likely be ahead and a call could be justified as they may be attempting a bluff on this scary flop.

So it’s not just a case of analysing the Flop Texture, but also considering the flop texture in relation to what we know about our opponent, how they have played previous hands, and how they have played this current hand.

3. How does my Opponent think I am Playing?

We also have to look at a flop as how it will be perceived to have hit our hand by our opponents. We can sort of flip the scenarios around and pretend we were raising from the button.

Just like we did in the last example, a thinking opponent will understand that we are playing a much wider range of hands from the button and will not always have a strong hand a lot of times. You need to understand how your opponent is thinking in order to help you decide whether or not to bluff at a pot.

Let’s say you raise from under the gun with a pair of Tens. You get a call from the cut-off position and the flop comes: A-K-5. Now at this stage our pair of Tens doesn’t look so good to us based on the actual strength and the flop looking so scary with two overcards.

However, if we think about what our opponent will perceive the range of cards we are playing, this could be a good flop for us. Since players usually raise big hands from under the gun, us holding A-K or other big Aces is a real possibility in the minds of our opponent.

Also, since our opponent simply called, they are less likely to have a big Ace or any other type of hand that could hit this flop with any certainty. They may have a hand such as K-Q or Q-J, but even then, it’s hard for them to stay in the hand when facing aggression.

This type of flop will be a good one to bluff at given our position at the table and our perceived range.

4. Paired Flops

This type of flop deserves its own category as it will be one that you see quite often. A paired flop will look like this: 5-5-9. This is a very dry flop that has no draws and is unlikely to hit any opponent’s hand. While at first glance it may look safe, this will be one of the most dangerous types of flop you will play.

Most players similarly also assume it is safe when a flop like this comes down. Therefore, they will try to steal it from you and often times a raising war breaks out with someone losing a lot of money.

Against the right players, these types of flops are ideal to steal with little effort and risk involved. Against a tough player, this flop may cause you some trouble. This is why knowing who you are up against is a major part of reading the flop.

A Paired Flop can also hide some very strong hands that opponents may have hit. Hands such as a full house, or three of a kind. These hands can get paid off quite often because they are disguised well, with players thinking it is a safe flop, only to have an opponent holding a monster hand in the background. Always be wary of this kind of flop and consider all possibilities.

Out Think Your Opponents

Being able to read flop textures and understand what they mean is crucial to out playing your opponents after the flop in Texas Holdem and becoming a winning poker player. Having this knowledge and practising this skill will set you apart from the average players and in no time you will be able to dominate any table you sit at.

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