Poker Tactics: After the Flop

After the flop, you know five of the seven cards that will form your hand. Because three of these five are community cards, the person holding the best hand after the flop is a heavy favorite to win. It is much harder to out-draw someone in Hold'em than in other forms of poker. The cards that follow the flop may improve your hand, but often, they will improve .the strongest hand even more. Immediately after the flop, the questions you should ask are:

Answering these questions requires the skill of "reading the flop." Consider the following categories of flops:

Flops with scare cards (Aces and face cards)

A face card is a King, Queen, or Jack. Because people play Aces and face cards in Hold'em, a flop with these cards often means someone has at least one pair; thus the term "scare" card, when an Ace or face card appears on the board. A person who raised before the flop might well have a big pair or Ace-face in the pocket. After a flop with scare cards, that player might have trips or two pair. To continue playing after such a flop, you should have at least the top pair and a high kicker. For example, with a flop of
Queen of ClubsJack of Spades Seven of Diamonds
you should hold a Queen with another Ace or face card to keep playing.

Flops with garbage cards

A flop with low cards is less likely to have paired someone. When the flop is
two of ClubsSeven of Diamonds five of spades
people holding high pairs and high cards in the pocket have a great advantage since it is unlikely the flop has helped anyone. Beware, though, of players in the blind who have not called a raise to see the flop. The blind's two cards could be anything since at this point, because the blind is not in the hand by choice. If a blind gets excited by a flop of little cards, his or her hand could be two pair or better. Don't underestimate the blind's strength.

Flops with pairs.

To win when this type of flop appears, you usually need to form another pair higher than the one on the board. If the flop is
Ten of SpaidsTen pf C;ibs three of spades
and you hold Ace of Clubs, Three of Clubs, your two pair is unlikely to win without improvement. You need to pair your Ace. Everyone has a pair of tens so anyone with another pair higher than your threes beats you. Also, any time there is a pair on the flop, it is possible for someone to have a full house. This becomes more likely when there are high cards on the board. A flop of Queen Queen Jack is more likely to have made a full house for someone than Five Five Eight.

Drawing Flops

Contain matched suits and cards in (or close to) sequence. This type of flop allows for the creation of straights and flushes. Learn to recognize when they're present and when they're not. Any flop containing two cards of the same suit will attract players holding two cards of that suit since they have a 33% chance of making the flush by the end. Flops with connected cards attract people looking to draw to a straight.

Flops that allow pat hands

Flops such as three of the same suit or three connected cards should not to be played against unless you can make the flush or the high end of the straight. If there is substantial betting and raising, someone already has the hand or a good draw, and you should fold.