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Post-Flop Play Part 2
This is part two in a trilogy of articles designed to get you up to speed on the basics of playing a strong game post-flop.
Texture of the Board
Making a good accurate reading of the texture of the board is a skill. Many players don't realize the importance of this and don't work on improving their technique in this area, or they allow themselves to get lazy.
This is one of the first parts of your game that falls off when you play while physically exhausted. It can get to the point where you will fail to notice four cards to a straight on board. You will see people muck winning hands frequently in cardrooms, simply because they didn't bother to read the board properly.
Assessing board texture is especially important in online poker. In online poker, you get far fewer opportunities to pick up information about the hand, making the texture of the board a significant component of the information you will be offered.
You need to be able to quickly and accurately compute all possible draws including low-percentage draws.
You need to know what backdoor draws and gut-shots are on the board.
The Backdoor Draw
People often exclude a backdoor draw from their flop assessment. This is a mistake, as people will consider their backdoor draws causing them to influence theaction they choose to to make.
A player with top pair, low kicker, who would fold to a large bet on the flop, might make the call if he had the same hand with a backdoor draw.
A backdoor draw most commonly comes into play on a continuation bet:
You raise K-Q of spades.
The flop comes T♥ 2♣ 6♠.
You make a continuation bet on the flop, and get called. You're now willing to fold your hand, and definitely won't bet the turn unless your hand improves.
The turn comes 9♠.
Now you have a flush draw, along with a gut-shot straight draw, totaling 12 outs. This, combined with your fold equity, is more than enough reason to bet again now.
For someone to make an accurate read against you, they would have to have taken backdoor draws into consideration on the flop.
Number of Opponents
The more players in the hand, the less equity you have. Also, the more players in the hand the more likely there is someone who has enough of a hand to make a call.
This makes bluffing a low-probability wager. Dan Harrington teaches that you should only c-bet if you're heads-up to the flop.
The other factor introduced into multiway pots is the ability to create much more attractive pot and implied odds.
The betting story, along with the texture of the board, almost always accounts for a huge portion of the information you'll have at your disposal while playing online. Live or online, it's the most important part of a No-Limit Hold'em game.
As it is almost impossible to write out every possible betting story for every possible situation, the best I can do is give general advice. Poker is a straightforward game in principal. If everyone plays perfect, tight ABC poker, then players will make bets directly proportionate to the hands they have.
A big bet will always be a big hand in this scenario. That scenario is the basis of poker; everything starts from there. In a science experiment, this would be your control.
If you have no information about any of the players you are in a pot with, you have to assume, until you have reason to believe otherwise, that these players are playing poker similarly to the control.
You'll often hear good poker players say things such as, "If he had bet half my stack of my stack or so I would have had to fold, but when he went all-in I knew I could call."
Big Bet = Big Hand - But Not Always
Now, this may sound contrary to what the general rule we just discussed. The all-in is a bigger bet; therefore shouldn't it mean your opponent has a bigger hand?
Here's the logic behind how a player could make such a statement.
In a situation like this, it's going to be a larger-sized, action pot. Almost always heads-up.
The betting story would have been such that both players are saying they have a big hand through their actions. The aggressor is making big bets, and the caller (who made the statement) is making calls.
When it gets to the river, the aggressor moves all-in $1,000 into the $900 pot.
Both players have the same size stack.
The aggressor has made many bets and raises; he has been saying with his bets that he has a very big hand. Because the other player is calling, he knows that that player must have a very big hand as well.
If the aggressor has the nuts, he wants to make a perfect value bet to get the highest amount of money he can on the river.
So why would he move all-in? An all-in is a very scary bet. If he wants a call, why would he make a play that by default is meant to scare away the other player?
Unless the player's chip stack was so small that any bet other than all-in would be absurd, a good player wanting a call will almost never move all-in. Therefore, he doesn't want a call, and the caller's hand is probably good.
The final article in the series finishes off with a few more post-flop concepts. The majority of poker is played post-flop, making it the most important side of the game to focus on.
More strategy articles from Sean Lind: